The University of Pittsburgh Dance Ensemble had their spring showcase this past Friday and Saturday evenings featuring pieces choreographed by Pitt students, as well as professional guest choreographers. Many student choreographers created dances to be performed in the show and the pieces were adjudicated before a panel of qualified judges, truly making this show the best of the best. The show was entitled Chromatic which Matthew Harvey, a Pitt senior dancing in the show described as, “a celebration of student choreographed dances with a lot of different genres.” All of the performances had an underlying message, making each dance truly artistic, meaningful, and engaging.
The show opened with a piece called “Have You Ever,” choreographed by Pitt sophomore Amanda Ferrara. A contemporary lyrical number, Ferrara explains it was about “finding someone you trust and allowing yourself to get lost in the relationship.”
“Strayed,” a tap number choreographed by freshman Emily Cramer, described her piece in the show’s program as, “portraying an individual that comes to accept her deviation with a little tough love from friends.” All the dancers were wearing matching white shorts and either a black or red tank top, except for the featured dancer who wore a white dress. This dancer started leading the others and then went off on own dancing tangent. Eventually she came back to the group, finishing the piece with them and bringing together the theme of the dance. This energetic, fun dance complete with a cappella tap combinations in the beginning and end really showed off the group’s synchronized tapping and rhythm.
A later piece titled “Game of Hearts” brought a more serious tone to the show portraying the “pain associated with heartbreak.” Choreographer and recent Pitt graduate Greg McCummings began the dance with slow, sharp movements complemented by smooth, fluid collapses and gestures. The dancers’ faces showed sad, frustrated expressions. Then, all the dancers gave the audience a dark look and the pace of the dance erupted, getting faster and angrier. This expressed the progression of one’s emotions after heartbreak: from hurt, pain, and helplessness to angry, furious, and seeking revenge.
Another memorable performance was “Les Oiseaux Volent (The Birds Fly), ” choreographed by Senior Jasmine Singson. The dancers moved in a way reminiscent of actual birds with upbeat pulses, and captivating cool, sharp movements. At other times the dancers seemed to flow across the stage, reminding the audience of the movement of a bird’s flapping wings. The performers wore several different vibrant colored dresses bringing the stage to life. They danced together but also had smaller group combinations, with featured dancers wearing matching dresses. These independent group dancse made the piece pop in excitement since it was always a surprise what would come next.
The dance with one of the most powerful messages was “Give and Take,” choreographed by senior Kaitlin Weaver. This piece featured dancers Aubrey Sherretta and Matthew Harvey and told the story of a couple with a rocky relationship. At times in the dance, the pair was dancing in sync harmoniously. However, they would then separate doing entirely different movements expressing the void between the two. The other dancers in the piece also started physically pulling Sherretta back from Harvey, representing what commonly happens with friends who have loved ones in these kinds of relationships. This love-hate relationship went on throughout the piece and was exemplified by all the dancers’ acting skills, communicated in their hurt facial expressions. Sherretta also showed some amazing dance technique in the multiple lifts her and Harvey executed together.
For the grand finale, the PDE Board of Director choreographed a hilarious dance to the LMFAO song, “I’m Sexy and I Know It.” Doning 80's style neon attire, the dancers closed-out the show with an energized work-out style number. The final dance concluded with, dancer Matthew Harvey getting “pantsed” to reveal gold booty shorts. The show closed with the entire ensemble returning to take their final bows.
Chromatic displayed the Pitt Dance Ensemble’s time, effort, and hard work that they have been putting in all year with this extremely enjoyable show. The dancers did a fantastic job performing the eclectic variety of dances, which kept the audience guessing.