Arts & Culture Reviews

Review: Spotlight

The King’s Dance Collective’s Spotlight put on a show everyone could enjoy—a group primarily composed of lyrical and ballet dancers tried out a variety of genres. The only people who didn’t seem to be having fun were the performers themselves.
Lena Szymoniak and Mariah Friedrich’s choreography was easily the standout element of the show. Their routines “If Only,” Szymoniak’s beautifully executed solo, and “The Trial,” a strong and understated group number, were both elegant and raw. The strong expression in both performances made the dancing seem unforced and fluid.
Choreography well-suited to the performers’ varied skill levels was a trait those two routines shared with the rest of the show, and indeed was what held the show together. The choreography, shared between Szymoniak, Friedrich, Linden Campbell, Katherine Crone, Kendra Crummey, Crystal Gilhooly, Emily Kitagawa, Megan Norland, Brynn Staples and Serpentine Studios’ Laura Selenzi, was simple enough for all of the performers to execute well but didn’t look like just series of steps.
Unfortunately, much of the choreography was performed with limited expression. Because the dancers seemed so focussed on the choreography, or in some cases, how they felt about the choreography, the audience was forced to focus on both the weaknesses of the execution and the choreography, rather than the performance as a whole.
This was particularly evident in the hip-hop performance “Show Me the Money.” The dancers had neither the swag nor the humour to pull off hip-hop, especially in predictable outfits of baggy sweatpants, white tank tops and bandanas. “Make Me Wanna Die,” a contemporary number, had similar issues. The performers seemed to have a limited grasp on the concept of the music—an angst-ridden song about obsessive love—and frequently either smiled widely or did not emote at all.
To the performers’ credit, “Slap That Bass,” a musical theatre number (from the film Shall We Dance), was fun and embraced vivaciously by all eight dancers.
The show, organized by the collective’s executive, Campbell, Crummey, Friedrich and Staples, very much was performed like a recital, and might have benefited from some sort of story or concept both to encourage stronger emoting and make better use of the space. Transitions within the numbers and between them seemed empty.
Spotlight brought some very talented choreographers and dancers out from King’s shadows. A love of dance, however, was left behind.

By David J. Shuman

David is the current editor-in-chief of The Watch and writes on student issues and events. Find him on Twitter: @DavidJShuman

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