Dancers portray stories in fall concert

Dance students captivate audiences in Annual Fall Dance Concert.

The dance department’s Fall Dance Concert opens its final show to a near-full audience Saturday night. Photo by Adam Ottke

As the rattling of the curtain being pulled up in Waltmar Theatre echoed across the silent audience, the high expectations for the performance were palpable.

The College of Performing Art’s dance department hosted the Fall Dance Concert, an annual performance showcasing dance students and choreography by faculty. General admission was $20, with $15 prices for students and seniors, with shows Nov. 28 – Dec. 1.

Ethereal, dreamlike notes strung through the auditorium as the first number, “We’re All In This Together,” began and dancers swathed in cream-colored costumes took the stage. This first number did not start the show off with a bang, but it did not disappoint either. The movements were simple and capable of being taught to beginners. It only took a few seconds to realize that the beauty of this piece was in its simplicity and its synchronicity.

The night did showcase a few cases of arm placement discrepancy and some spacing issues, but the formations overruled any distractions these caused because they flowed effortlessly into each new arrangement.  This, coupled with the graceful movements of the cream-clad dancers, made for one of the most visually soothing dances I have seen.

The dancers wonderfully handled the choreography of guest choreographer Holly Johnston in “In Fall of Matter,” a piece that faculty member and concert director Jennifer Backhaus warned the audience was a challenge before the show even began. A few beats were lost in a flurry of differently timed hits and a certain strain visibly traced the dancers’ faces, but these were inconsequential details given how well the piece came across.

“The Green-Eyed Monster” stood out because it told the story of Othello through dance rather than theatre. Senior dance major Derek Nemechek and junior dance major Jonathon Fors as Othello and Iago danced phenomenally well together. The two made the performance entrancing by telling the story in a way through their movements that pulled the audience in to experience it with them.

The final two numbers of the show, “Settings and Clearings” and “Still,” displayed beautiful light design work. “Settings and Clearings” was one of the longer pieces but flaunted a striking set, the eerie addition of “Happy Birthday” amidst militant beats and strident notes, and the obvious commitment of every dancer.

“Still” was a gorgeous piece and the dancers were exceptional examples of synchronicity. The striking use of silhouette added depth to the performance and, barring a few bent knees during eye-catching leg holds, this was a very cleanly executed work.

Despite minor errors, this show was nothing less than captivating. The dance department clearly produced a rousing success that not only showcased talented dancers, but in that, talented storytellers.



  • Have you ever seen a dance concert? This article is so erroneous, not only in your facts, but also in your grammar and punctuation. Jenny Backhaus is a full-time faculty member, and Nancy Dickson-Lewis gave the curtain speech. Holly Johnston’s piece is called “In Fall of Matter” not “Fall of Matter”. Also- Don Guy did not light “Settings and Clearings”. It is wildly offensive that you would insinuate that beginners could perform the first piece. I have been dancing for 15 years, and I was impressed. The point of dance is to make difficult choreography look effortless…. not simplistic. We appreciate your criticism, but this is a college dance performance and a learning opportunity for students. Please, get your facts in line…. and let me see your best leg-hold turn next time.

  • You CLEARLY have no idea what you are talking about. The Panther made a mistake by allowing this article to be printed. You have incorrect facts about the show and frankly have no business critiquing the technical aspects of the pieces. The fact that you mentioned one of the pieces could be, “capable of being taught to beginners” is just plain disrespectful to the entire cast and the choreographer. I can’t believe you had the audacity to print that there were, “few cases of arm placement discrepancy and some spacing issues” and “barring a few bent knees during eye-catching leg holds”. YOU attempted to degrade the performance of every dancer in the Fall Dance Concert by writing this article. Shame on YOU.

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