Street | Dance

diSiac spring show 'On the Edge' of perfection

This weekend, diSiac Dance Company brings “On the Edge” to Frist Film/Performance Theatre. “On the Edge” highlights all the choreographic intricacy and innovation we have come to expect from diSiac, and will be sure to please longtime fans and new audiences alike. The show features many fresh, original and nuanced performances, but the overall performance quality is inconsistent: certain pieces shine while others recycle choreographic and lighting tropes. Despite momentary missteps, “On the Edge” traverses exciting new terrain and emphasizes diSiac’s impressive range.

The show kicks off with an energetic piece called “Thugtropolis,” choreographed by Tola Emiola ’14, Maechi Uzosike ’17, Adin Walker ’16 and David Wang ’14. “Thugtropolis” might be the show’s opening number, but the piece drops the audience into the middle of the action rather than drawing them into the show gradually. The piece samples five different hip-hop/rap songs and moves through each quite quickly without much room for connection or transition. In this way, “Thugtropolis” sets the tone for many of the hip-hop pieces in “On the Edge” – diSiac flies through song and lighting changes so frequently in their hip-hop performances that no one theme or color palette is able to stand out. While the dancers hit their moves aggressively and do so in unison, the jarring light and musical changes undercut their hard work.

One hip-hop piece in the show that stands apart from the rest is “On the Edge of Moving On,” choreographed by Kristi Yeung ’14. This piece is set to “Heart Skipped a Beat” by The xx, a song about needing someone even after they’ve left you behind. Dancers delve into the complex emotions surrounding messy break-ups without the interruption of the clashing song changes that distract the audience during some of the other pieces in the show. The fact that “Heart Skipped a Beat” is not a typical hip-hop song choice makes Yeung’s choreography all the more compelling. Yeung’s piece stands out for its freshness and innovation.

“On the Edge” has a very strong first act, replete with stunning lyrical moments. Colby Hyland ’16 creates a mesmerizing experience with his piece “On the Edge…Literally,” set to Paper Route’s song “Dance on Our Graves.” Eight dancers in stark black costumes move through visually exciting formations, interpreting the music and Hyland’s choreography beautifully. The short duet between president Allison Metts ’15 and Austin Giangeruso ’14 is show-stopping. Another choreographic triumph in Act One is “On the Edge of Desire,” created by Kristen Johnson ’17 and Maria Yu ’16. This piece features eleven female dancers performing to the song “Go” by Delilah. “On the Edge of Desire” is intensely sexy, but not because of floor gyrations or hairography — this piece explores the sensuality of each female dancer through subtle movement and emotion. The dancers connect with each other through touch and with the audience through expression and unity.

Metts is a former associate design editor for The Daily Princetonian.

While Act I features beautiful choreographic moments, Act II blows the competition away with its power and innovation. Maeve Drablos ’13 and her sister Katie Drablos kick off the second act with their piece “Ants Marching (On the Edge).” The piece, set to “Ants Marching” by Dave Matthews Band, showcases Austin Giangeruso ’14 as a man who breaks the mold of traditional dance to expose his peers to new styles of movement. The partnering between the three female dancers and the three male dancers in the choreography is flawless, and the dancers never once lose their energy. Giangeruso’s own piece, “On the Edge of Self Discovery,” soon follows, again exploring fresh movement and complex rhythms. Set to Bon Iver’s “Woods,” the piece works with the song’s moments of silence as well as its elevated musical intricacies. As the music becomes more complex with rhythms overlapping and interweaving, the choreography becomes increasingly difficult. The effect captivates, as the dancers move perfectly in unison despite the song’s chaotic rhythms. Finally, Act II experiences a moment of near perfection in “On the Edge of Nirvana,” choreographed by Kalin Stovall ’15. Set to Sam Smith’s “Nirvana,” a must-listen, Stovall’s dancers interpret the music and her choreography impeccably.

While diSiac shines choreographically, the performance quality of “On the Edge” wavers across the board. While shadowy silhouettes can highlight a dancer’s beautiful lines, the lighting in “On the Edge” is often too dark, which hinders the audience’s ability to experience each dancer’s expressions and emotions. When the lights do brighten up, the expressions of the dancers are not always in sync, ranging from engagement and excitement to indifference. Finally, frequent blackouts during certain pieces can disrupt the show’s continuity and jolt audience members out of a consistent viewing experience.

However, these lighting and performance missteps are not enough to detract much from the overall creative quality of diSiac’s spring show. “On the Edge” may not be perfect, but it is certainly on the edge of perfection.

4 out of 5 paws

Pros: Impressive lyrical performances; stand-out choreography.

Cons: Inconsistent performance quality; dim lighting.

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