The Dance Club presented their show “Quick Turnaround” last weekend at the Myers Dance Studio. With few seats left open, the space was filled with students, faculty and families. It was filled also with the excitement and energy that always surfaces before a show begins. As Dance Club shows are student-run and student-choreographed, a few choreographers were seated in the audience, waiting to watch their dancers carry out what was once merely a vision. Behind the audience lay the light and sound booth, occupied by students eager to demonstrate the skills they have mastered over their years at college, and backstage were still more students, dressed in black, working to ensure that the show would run without glitches or difficulties.
The lights dimmed, and the show began with an upbeat number choreographed by Augie Sherman ’18 titled “Pink Havana.” The dancers bounced from stage right to stage left, stomping, clapping and finding joy in the movement. Their joy radiated out to the audience, spreading even to the back row of chairs. This piece welcomed the audience in, creating an atmosphere of warmth and acceptance. Many dances in the show carried with them this same light and warmth—Kelli Carlson ’19 and Emily Green ’18 choreographed a humorous piece set to three versions of the song “Crocodile Rock,” and Teddy Nguyen ’20 explored the concept of love, and the many joys and sorrows it carries, through a hip-hop work entitled “One Quick Turn Around.”
Other pieces in the show, however, were a bit heavier. Some students chose to use dance as a medium for expressing their political views. In a country now divided by politics and in a time fraught with controversial statements, silence, for many, does not feel like an option. Art is an effective and impactful way to make a difference.
Sophomore Rachael Lieblein-Jurbala’s piece, “…and I will never, ever let you down,” focused on female and male roles in society, and specifically on the way women are treated by men, including the 45th President of the United States. The piece incorporated dialogue, all words of President Donald Trump, and exposed the cruelty and disrespect alive in his language. When asked about her use of verbal communication in this piece, Lieblein-Jurbala replied, “It was important to me that text was incorporated in this piece; there is something incredibly powerful about hearing words initially spoken about women re-articulated by women themselves, and I wanted to play with what meaning that produced.”
She went on to say, “Throughout Trump’s campaign and election, I felt, first and foremost, furious, not only because of the words and actions he displayed as an individual, but because of the broader significance of those words and actions for the general public. As a woman, it is chilling to watch videos of the ‘leader’ of our country using sexist, misogynistic language about beauty standards and gender roles, and boasting of sexually assaulting women… I knew I wanted to make a piece in response, as a representation of the emotional and visceral feelings that this situation has provoked.”
This piece shed light on the power of dance as a form of protest. Dance can convey inequality and injustice; it can serve as a means of fighting back against multiple forms of oppression and discrimination. Bodies can speak as loudly as voices, and through dance, human beings are able to explore ideas too large to fit into the walls and boxes of language. Leiblein-Jurbala stated, “Art can be an incredibly powerful channel of activism, both as an emotional outlet and as way of making social change.”
The power of this show also lay in the collaboration involved. Students worked together, using their bodies and minds to make larger statements which could be shared with people of all ages and from all backgrounds.Through their pieces, students told important stories and asked complicated questions. They challenged each other as well as the current system that tugs at all of us, whether we are aware of it or not.
Being a college student involves purposeful exploration of our society’s complex rules and its impact on human beings. In a similar sense, being a citizen involves a concern for contemporary political affairs, legislation, and how government policies threaten basic human rights. The students in this show not only brought insight and knowledge to an enraptured audience, but they also embodied the core values of democracy.