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eXpressions Dance Company’s ‘Notorious’ showcases multiple dimensions of artistry

<h5>The dancers of eXpressions Dance Company in performance.&nbsp;</h5>
<h6>Olivia Kasule / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
The dancers of eXpressions Dance Company in performance. 
Olivia Kasule / The Daily Princetonian

True to its name, eXpressions Dance Company’s fall show was indeed notorious. Inspired by the themes of excitement, charm, and drama in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Notorious” (1946), the show’s dynamic presentation of movement in tandem with the authentic artistry of the dancers enabled the audience to appreciate the thoughtful narratives in the choreography.

Princeton’s eXpressions Dance Company is the oldest student-run dance group on campus, currently composed of 36 dedicated members from a diverse range of dance backgrounds. Many of its members are also involved with Princeton’s Dance Program, as well as other dance groups on campus. This year was the first time since the pandemic began that the dance group was able to have an in-person performance. However, due to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases, particularly among the undergraduate population, the dance company had to take extra precautions through mask-wearing and frequent testing.

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The performance commenced with a brief trailer that integrated elements of film noir, a style that emphasizes the use of chiaroscuro lighting, heavy shadows, and monochromatic cinematography to produce a dramatic effect. As the trailer concluded, the lights began to fade and the audience was met with the silhouettes of the dancers on the Frist Theater stage. The show went into full swing as Halsey’s “Colors” played and the dancers began flowing through the space, delicately manipulating their movements. Suddenly, the change in music to Billie Eilish’s “&Burn,” accompanied by the punctual and staccato articulation of the choreography, elicited an enlivened response from the audience.

Due to its ever-evolving and adapting nature, contemporary dance is a uniquely interpreted genre. As a result, the dynamic artistry explored in eXpression’s “Notorious” makes the show particularly intriguing. The modern and contemporary-focused company not only experimented with musical textures but also explored the poetic elements of dance, such as the intentional repetition of movement and the contrast of continuity with dynamism.

The piece “Joyride,” choreographed by Mandy Qua ’23 and Martina Qua ’25, put intentional repetition into play through the execution of lively choreography consisting of toe flicks, weight transfers, and intricate hand movements. Throughout this dance, the variation of the same sequence of steps creates a mesmerizing effect that stretches time into a single, present moment and makes the familiar movement radiant by making every detail glow.

That said, the members of eXpressions Dance Company also expanded the contemporary sphere, highlighting the depth of their talent and technique through a heels piece titled “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’.” Choreographed by Kate Stewart ’25 and Kiara Wassoodew ’25, the piece was infused with fierce elements of jazz-funk that captured the audience’s attention. From executing consecutive pirouettes in heels to breaking out in acrobatic tricks, this performance was able to showcase the athleticism and well-roundedness of these dancers.

Besides the marvelous dances, eXpressions also incorporated other mediums of art into their show, such as a student-produced short film directed by Allen Delgado ’23 with screenwriting by Zach Sahin ’23 and Daniel Drake ’24. The film depicted some of the members in a thrilling spy scene containing stylistic and thematic similarities to classic film noir movies. 

Drake is an associate video editor for the ‘Prince.’

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Moreover, the a capella performance by the Princeton Tigertones in the middle of Act 2 during the Thursday show offered a rich and resonating sound, while the Juggling Club entertained the audience during the Friday shows with their striking skills.

In addition to the creative decisions described previously, the dynamic lighting, the coordinated design and publicity content, and the integration of unexpected choreography elements — such as the usage of hats in the piece “she’s all hat,” choreographed by Julia Chang ’24 and Ellie Chang ’23 — reiterated the amazing capabilities of students to produce and execute a high-quality and professional show. Each piece uniquely presented a meaningful storyline while highlighting the performers’ technical and expressive abilities. 

In short, eXpressions Dance Company put on an exquisite performance that was able to not only resonate with the audience but also highlight the talented and artistic student population at Princeton.

Olivia Kasule is a Contributing Writer for The Prospect at the ‘Prince.’ She can be reached at ok0209@princeton.edu.

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