★★★★★ - Irresistible
Trajectory: The path followed by a moving body through space under the action of given forces.
The UNLV Department of Dance presented their concert “Trajectories” this past weekend in Alta Ham Dance Studio One. Eight student choreographers each showcased a dance composition which highlighted their talent for shaping movement to music and the result was pure magic.
The disquieting “The Chaos and the Calm” by Lucinda (L.Jay) Luevanos is about paralysis caused by self-doubt and set to the hypnotic music of STWO. It begins with eleven dancers standing in a gesture of agony, their shoulders jerking and chests heaving as if unable to speak or breathe, then grasping their necks and swaying while holding their hearts. The performers do lunges, contractions, and floorwork contortions to show off their emotional distress.
The unsettling “Ordinary Dilemma” is a piece by Ksenia Kozyreva set to “Ibeyi-River” by Marian Hill-Lips and features three dancers in a trio about a love triangle. Two pony-tailed girls who may be friends sit on the floor, give each other looks, and dance a duet until an imposing guy arrives and a dysfunctional courtship dance ensues. It’s a visceral work about the complications of relationships with turning leaps, fan kick lifts, arabesques, and a bit of domineering brutality and hair pulling.
The otherworldly “You’ve Only Just Begun” by Paige Toolan is a piece about trusting the natural rhythms of life set to the mournful sounds of The Album Leaf and Son Lux. Three dancers paint a heavenly stage picture in their long white dresses as they walk pensively one behind the other, sway together and jete. They take turns supporting each other in lunges and do lateral curves and graceful deep back arches with arms outstretched as if putting their faith in a spontaneous path.
“Epictacular Then” is a thoughtful, colorful work by Leilani Canapino about personal growth through change composed to the airy music of Rob Simonsen. Eight performers saunter in and slowly take their places. They wander hopefully in search of meaning, move together, dance in pairs, and individually do their own thing in an ever-changing textural tapestry. There are repeating canons, tour jetes, pirouettes, and developpes in this energetic and complex piece about finding oneself.
The visually stunning, mesmerizing “Nostalgic Cavalier” by Mandie Evans is a piece about letting go of the past set to the jazzy, brooding “Slip” by Elliot Moss. Six dancers enter one by one from different directions, each carrying a chair and placing it until they are seated facing forward in a circle. At first the movements emanate from the upper body, isolated and then flowing as they sweep arms around to reach laterally in the same direction, giving a synchronized feel that is pleasing to the eye. They point, grasp, self embrace and slip off their seats, sliding to the ground where the movements expand to include contortions and stretching, a walk around the circle and finally crouching back on the chairs.
“Magnetic Moment” is a folksy, dualistic piece about releasing heavy inner turmoil by Georgia Cotsis set to the electronica of Flume. Six performers appear holding hands, line up and begin with a wave of movement that passes from one girl to the next, and their images are reflected on the floor and in shadows on the upstage wall. There are outspread hands, raised palms and clenched fists, and circular formations with arms intertwined. They separate into pairs of lookalikes and echo slow, sustained movements to whimsical effect.
The heart wrenching “Labyrinth” by Chaslina Cress is about deep wounds set to the harmonic “Say Something” by Pentatonix. A girl in white dress dances alone writhing in distress, when eight concerned others try to connect. She fights them violently until she collapses, and they circle her in an effort to cleanse. They form a bridge with their arms and with a running leap she throws herself onto them, and they lift her up in a gesture of healing. The piece was extra remarkable on Saturday night because the music cut out but the ensemble didn’t miss a beat and kept dancing perfectly in time. They moved to their own emotional breathing and relied on their training to carry them through, and the piece retained its power.
The final number was the haunting “Cosmic Dimensions” choreographed by Lonnie Chaney III to the melancholy, spacey music of Future, Brink, and James Blake. About collective consciousness, heavenly energies, and outer-space entities, fourteen dancers perform pop and lock, fan kicks and arabesques with outstretched arms and angular movements. Two separate groups dance to a different drum, and the tension builds until the music starts throbbing and the dancing becomes frenzied. It is by turns hypnotic and suspenseful, disturbing and demonic.
“Trajectories” was a sold out show and for good reason. Kudos to the talented choreographers, technicians, and dance ensemble, unfortunately too many to mention.