The audience joined the RIDDIM dance team for their fall end of semester show “RIDDIM World Dance Troupe Zooms In” on Saturday November 14th. Some watched from a tent stage set up behind the Mahaney Arts Center while others admired from a distance, watching the performance projected live on the McCullough Lawn. The show was presented twice – one at 6:00 p.m. and another at 9:00 p.m. – as part of the Fall Arts Fest “Light Up the Night” series.
The show opened with a video of crew members attending a Zoom meeting, an ode to how interactions on campus have changed this semester. In a brief introduction, the members indulged in some hilarious activities without realizing their microphones or videos were on, a frequent and relevant occurrence for many people taking distance education courses. After audiences had a good laugh at Max Lucas ’21 doing somersaults in bed, Malia Armstrong ‘22.5 putting on mascara and Jarlenys Mendez ’23 being nowhere to be found, attention turned to the stage lit in purple lights and filled with dancers dressed in all black.
The first performance was “Studio 2020”, choreographed by Lucas, Paula Somoza ’21 and Miraal Naseer ’21. The dancers followed the beats of Gashi’s rhythmic “Safety”, bringing searing energy to the stage even as the weather began to drop below 50 degrees. As the first dance progressed, dancers were able to demonstrate more individual movements while others gave them space by staying low; they chose and adapted movements from across the dance spectrum, forming their own visually compelling stories.
As the dancers from the first performance fled, six new ones appeared on stage, dancing to Ozuna, Doja Cat and Sia’s “Del Mar”, performing an intricate choreography to lyrical, sexy music.
After a brief intermission, waves of dancers joined in the next act, choreographed by Madeline Elkes ’22. His piece “Stay” captivated audiences with a performance of striking synchronicity. Despite an appearance of gentleness as the team danced to the soft whispers of singer Gracie Abrams, the movements did get powerful at times, following the rise and fall of the music. In the middle of the song, to echo its growing sweetness, all but two of the dancers left, displaying wonderful control in slowness and speed. “Living during a pandemic is stressful and I wanted my dancing to be stress relief for everyone, ”Elkes said.
In contrast, the next piece, “Achey Bones”, choreographed by Anna Loewald ’21, electrified the crowd. This dance has been referred to by Loewald as a “fusion footwork piece”. True to his words, dancers Lucas, Somoza and Loewald held their hands behind their backs at times to maximize the audience’s attention to the footwork.
“I especially enjoyed this song for this present moment as we fight against a global pandemic, social movements, an important election, etc., all subjects which cause great fear, anxiety and sadness ”, Loewald said.
After the dancers exited the stage, it remained empty for a long period of time. As some began to wonder where the dancers had gone, muttering words to each other, the performers unexpectedly appeared on stage in colorful dresses. Until this point in the night, the dominant tone on stage was black and white, and this sudden infusion of color surprised many. It was the debut of “Aadam Tarana”, choreographed by Amun Chaudhary ’23, 5 and Miraal Naseer ’23, a piece inspired by the South Asian dance style Kathak, which emphasizes storytelling, expression and the fluidity. The name “Tarana” refers to the emphasis on movement and a style strongly influenced by court dances and palaces of South Asia.
Then, “Psychoanalysis”, which included a scene lit with green and cold rhythms. Isabelle Davis ’21, the choreographer of the piece, described it as “mixing different modern techniques that I have studied and channeling them into a new approach to modern style dance”.
After the play, chairs, blankets and pillows were taken up on stage for a short but engaging transition to Kanye West’s song “Famous”. The dancers hurried to get dressed, put on coats and rush to their seats to read. The transitional piece mediated between “Psychanalisis” and the next dance “My emotions”, choreographed by Lucas, who described it as “a nostalgic and relaxed piece. [one] with elements of urban dance and hip-hop movements. Positioned in a triangle, the dancers on the three peaks crouched down while others stood, relaying a fascinating vitality at different levels.
In a whiplash-inducing change of style, the next dance, Leeeć, was a piece inspired by Polish folk dance. The performance tackled themes of nature, mythology and death, according to choreographer Lucas. The next piece arrived at another 180 degree twist – “Electricity”, designed by Ali DePaolo ’23. DePaolo went through the initial choreography steps for this piece with his teammates via Zoom, teaching from a room in the BiHall to the dancers in their respective dorms. In an email to The Campus, she wrote: “I wanted to create an opportunity for people to try out a new style, to learn classic jazz technique and to showcase their personality on stage.”
Next, “Perfect Pose”, choreographed by Kevin Mata ’22, made an “explicit attempt to understand what it means for different bodies to represent femininity in a festive way.” Dancing to “Perfect” by Cousin Stizz, the performers used their bodies to express a strong and provocative attitude.
The evening ended with “Telephone” – in bright red lights, waves of dancers sprinted across the stage, presenting one last move to the audience before ending with a bow. Amid the loud cheers, the performers blew kisses to the audience through masks. The show was captivating from the first ding from someone entering a meeting Zoom to the last pose.
Rain Ji ’23 is the Arts & Culture publisher. She returns to this position after a year of distance learning in Beijing, China.
Ji is a major in Middle Eastern and North African Studies, and she is also working on a minor in Arabic Studies and Education. Last summer, she worked for a media outlet called Caixin Global, where Ji worked as an intern political analyst and wrote on Middle East politics.
When not writing, editing, or designing layouts, she enjoys watching crime shows.