What do you expect from an Uprising? Whatever you picture, it's probably not a company of ladies dancing to lyrical melodies. This season, however, eXpressions Dance Company will whisk your imagination to new horizons with their artistic interpretations of the concept of uprising. Their fall show, which lasts a little over an hour, takes you on a journey through contemporary dance in a series of inspirational pieces, each with its own style and flair. Their attention to technical skill and impressively precise, balletic leaps create a quintessentially modern dance performance: a combination of jazz, ballet, hip-hop and lyrical and a mix of graceful, yet fiercely hot, dance acts.
eXpressions opens the show with Beyonce's upbeat "End of Time," as the entire company enters the stage in blue crop tops and loose black hip-hop pants under a beautiful haze of red light. By jump-starting the show with a high-energy number in a jazzy hip-hop style, eXpressions demonstrates that they aren’t confined to the contemporary balletic styles they’re known for. Choreographed by Silvia Lundgren ’15, this fierce piece declares that the girls in this troupe are more than delicate princesses, as the captivating dance formations and artistic stage elements leave high expectations for the overall aesthetic of the entire show.
Though the next piece, choreographed by Madeleine Planeix-Crocker ’15 to Camille’s "Wet Boy," brings a more mellow mood, the performers maintain the energy from the Beyonce opener in their elegant movements as they navigate the stage. However, because the show ambitiously attempts to bring together such a variety of styles, the transition between these pieces feels abrupt. This carries through the rest of the show, as the eclectic nature of the collection of pieces renders individual acts disjoint from each other.
Despite the lack of unity among pieces, "Uprising" carries strong numbers. "The Rise of Spring," choreographed by Sarah Rose ’14 to Patty Griffin's "Burgundy Shoes," sets a delicate mood as five nimble, doll-like dancers float gracefully across stage, successfully executing technically challenging leaps and spins that highlight each girl's individual strengths. Even with dynamic solos scattered throughout, the piece comes together with a touch of artistic balance and beauty. The powerful expressions in each dancer’s countenance, tastefully designed choreography, haunting music and soft-washed lighting create a chillingly wistful atmosphere that drags out your soul and leaves you begging for more.
eXpressions continues to excel in its stunning lyrical performances, but a few pieces in unusual styles fail to match the high bar these lyrical pieces set for the show. When the exacting beats of Arabic music begin to drum out after the light melodies of the previous number, the audience is thrown off as a troop of powerful girls executing sharp and firm moves appear against a blood-red background. Aptly adhering to the pattern of sudden transitions, another elegant lyrical piece follows this act. Inserted into the middle of Act I, the dance filler arranged to Adele’s "Someone Like You" presents three girls on a couch performing an interpretive dance, involving lots of legs flailing in the air to the various syncopated layers of beats in the music. While the overeager movement is conceptually intriguing and keenly accurate to the layers of beats, its precision puts the audience in an awkward position, and it is unclear whether we’re supposed to laugh or not, a deviation from the otherwise more serious and dramatic tone of the show.
But the second half saves the show as the company returns with more lyrical and jazz pieces and a heightened sense of vitality. These contemporary pieces seem more natural and flow into each other better as the show climaxes with an unforgettable number, “Memories of the Wind.” In a burst of outstanding artistic vision, choreographer Gilbert Tetteh ’12 creates a beautiful balance of crisp and sharp technique coupled with sinuous movements and rhythmic changes, all in a dynamic composition with captivating and original dance combinations. Featuring breathtaking exhibitions of leaps and stunning lighting effects, all meticulously timed, this piece is sure to amaze.
"Uprising" closes with a final company hip-hop/jazz piece, with exceptionally fiery body rolls proving that eXpressions knows how to balance just enough hip-hop with just enough jazz to create a sensation of skilled, dangerous spiciness. Throughout the show, the company expertly deals with the potential monotony of repetitive balletic combinations with fresh choreography and dynamic artistic formations. All stage elements are up to par, with complementary lighting effects and simplistic chiffon outfits that enhance movements and create an ambiance of effortless grace. A force to be reckoned with in the dance scene at Princeton, this lithe dance troupe is ready to put on a fantastic show this fall, so hurry to Frist to claim your tickets and experience the "Uprising."
4 out of 5 paws
Pros: Beautiful formations; hip-hop/jazz style and traditional lyrical numbers; all of Act II.
Cons: Questionable aesthetic unity of entire show; ambitious range of eclectic styles.