WELCOME TO THE NIGHT: Junior Ashlee Brannen’s “Lost in the Night” dance draws the audience into the show with a stunning center formation. (Ellie Chan)
WELCOME TO THE NIGHT: Junior Ashlee Brannen’s “Lost in the Night” dance draws the audience into the show with a stunning center formation.

Ellie Chan

“Fall”ing for dance’s “Fallout”

November 27, 2022

Sitting in the theatre for the duration of the hour-and-a-half “Fallout” show, I watched every silhouetted formation unravel before me, wowing at every gorgeous leg extension and every flawless fouette. But aside from the obvious astonishment at the student-made choreography, I was even more entranced by each dancer’s visible passion and vivaciousness as they owned their every performance. So while the dancers “fallout,” perhaps I just fall in love.

The show, running on Nov. 18 and 19, featured the 23 members of Dance Theatre and 39 members of Dance 3 as they performed in 21 dances of various different styles. From the fun to the somber, the hip hop to the ballet, each performance left me wanting more. Some performances have left a profound impression on me, and these are the ones I wish to share with all who missed the show (or for those who want to relive seeing them).

Northwood’s dance program will return with new performances in their spring showcase on April 27 and 28. If you can’t wait until then, Dance Extensions will be presenting their “Inspirations” show Feb. 23 and 24. 

“Lost in the Night” — choreographed by junior Ashlee Brannen

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Ellie Chan

WELCOME TO THE NIGHT: Junior Ashlee Brannen’s “Lost in the Night” dance draws the audience into the show with a stunning center formation.

This dance opens the night for Dance 3 with an air of mystique. Backed by Disney Aladdin’s “Arabian Night” and a vibrant blue glow, the dancers appear in stunning scarlet dresses. Throughout the performance, they continually reach towards something unknown, something the audience must fill with their imaginations. There’s a feeling of tension, a want to know more, that left me on the edge of my seat. And eventually, my breath was taken away when they formed a center block with levels and dimension, reaching towards the audience now as if they were drawing us in.

“Never Forget” — choreographed by sophomore Louise Macatula 

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Ellie Chan

ARDOR & ABUSE: The lead dancer strains against the hands holding her down in a representation of the residual trauma from the Holocaust.

Dance is special in that it has not only athletic prowess, but artistic intention—and “Never Forget,” a dance to John Williams’ “Theme from Schindler’s List,” is a true testament to both. The dance follows two lovers and a group of jealous onlookers who torment the lead physically, mentally and emotionally. Their abuse drives the lead to kill herself; and though her love interest tries to stop her, she fails to save her in time.

“I created my dance as a remembrance to the Holocaust and to give a subtle reminder of how it affected the world, and especially the Jewish community,” Macatula said. “The love interest tries to stop her from killing herself but at this point, the trauma from the event is too much to stop. This dance refers to how the Holocaust left scars in the Jewish community which still last today, even if they aren’t obvious to the rest of the world.”

“I’ve Come Home” — choreographed by junior Marisa Chacon

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Ellie Chan

NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Reaching out for home, the dancers gaze into the distance with unfettered joy on their faces.

 

There was no better way to end the first half of the show than with “I’ve Come Home,” a hopeful ballad that cannot be described in any way other than liberating. The dancers looked free upon the stage, like they were flying, and it seemed to perfectly encapsulate the comfort of coming “home.” Perhaps it resonated with me in that, against the daffodil-yellow backdrop, their flowing movements radiated a sense of contentment I can only yearn to feel. 

“Vogue” — choreographed by junior Ava Olsen

MAGAZINE+MODELS%3A+Freshman+Alessia+Cagnoni+executes+a+leg+extension%2C+showing+off+the+heels+unique+to+this+dance.+

Ellie Chan

MAGAZINE MODELS: Freshman Alessia Cagnoni executes a leg extension, showing off the heels unique to this dance.

The show reopens after intermission with the energetic powerhouse that is “Vogue.” The six performers are each flawless in their execution of difficult combinations in heels. The song repeats the word “legs” far too many times it seems, but just as the song says, their leg extensions were obviously the strong suit in this dance. Not only did they perform fouettes in heels, but they also managed to handstand on top of another’s back, a move that left audiences gasping in shock. 

“Stay with Me” — choreographed by sophomore Karen Young

WITH+OPEN+ARMS%3A+Junior+Sophia+Empalmado+reaches+somberly+towards+the+audience+in+a+call+to+Stay+with+me.++

Ellie Chan

WITH OPEN ARMS: Junior Sophia Empalmado reaches somberly towards the audience in a call to “Stay with me.”

This dance is a masterpiece in composition. While some may see dance as merely a person’s execution of choreography, much more goes into coming up with formations and deviating from unison sections to create a cohesive work of art. On stage, a dance becomes visually interesting when there are dimensions and levels. This dance kept my attention in that it wasn’t afraid to vary its levels in one frame—one dancer executes floorwork while the person next to them is in a leg extension—and it incorporated symmetry and geometric formations that kept the eyes moving. In combination with the emotional song, I’m sure this performance left an impression on many in the audience. 

“Waltz of the Snowflakes” — choreographed by senior Melina Tanuwidjaja

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Ellie Chan

ON POINT(E): Senior Melina Tanuwidjaja beams as she performs to Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Snowflakes.”

The show winds down with the true classic of classics, a ballet performed en pointe to Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Snowflakes” from “The Nutcracker.” Pointe is one of the most difficult dance techniques, where a dancer must support their entire body weight on the tips of their toes. It takes years of training to reach this caliber, and the four dancers in this performance executed their movements with seemingly effortless grace. If you were looking to view the pinnacle origin of dance, you would have to look no further.   

“The Audition” — choreographed by senior Catie Jamieson

CURTAIN+CALLBACK%3A+Junior+Riya+Roy%2C+in+character+as+the+auditioner%2C+reads+from+her+clipboard+as+the+eager+auditionees+wait+with+bated+breath+for+their+names+to+be+called.

Ellie Chan

CURTAIN CALLBACK: Junior Riya Roy, in character as the auditioner, reads from her clipboard as the eager “auditionees” wait with bated breath for their names to be called.

 

“Fallout” concludes with a fun, “musical theatre”-esque performance by Dance Theatre, where everyone auditions for a dance job, filled with jittery hope and anxious excitement. The scene truly comes to life as performers put on audition numbers and bring out their professional headshots in the hopes to catch the eye of their stoic auditioner. The emotion on their faces is what drives the dance forward—more than anything, it simply seemed like they were having fun—and maybe this joy is what truly made the entire audience smile as they clapped for the end of the show. 

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