Photo by Kimberly Williams
What happens when a large group of students come together through dances such as swing, contemporary, belly dancing, Irish step, and so many more? Magic. The adrenaline of performing in Guerry Auditorium in front of an enthusiastic audience for three consecutive nights gave the dancers of Perpetual Motion life on April 9 through 11. Everything about the experience – the long rehearsals during tech week, the costume changes, practicing in the hallways, and cheering from behind the curtains – fueled performances that wowed the Sewanee community. “I’ve gotten such positive feedback every day since opening night, and it makes me feel like a proud mama,” said Grace Shaw (C’15), this year’s president of Perpetual Motion. She, Dean Hartman, and the rest of the club’s council ran the show with care, dedication, and strong constructive criticism that brought all the dances together.
The preparation for the show began months before tech week, though. In October, the choreographers hosted auditions for their dances, a process that took two days to complete. Students could audition no matter their level of experience in dance, whether they had taken years of ballet or wanted to join for fun. A student’s typical style of dance did not matter, either. Auditions presented the opportunity for people to try out new styles such as Bollywood, African Caribbean, and hip hop. After winter break, the individual dances had weekly rehearsals that built up to the chaos that ensues with tech week. Spending about 25 hours in Guerry Auditorium – rehearsals and performances – tech week was the time that the individual pieces of the show came together with coherence. “It’s amazing to see how much a dance can improve in three days’ time,” said Shaw. “I loved seeing it all come together.”
Shaw choreographed two of the most emotional pieces of the show, two contemporary dances done to the songs “Oh Death” by Jen Titus and Beyonce’s “Heaven.” Both, obviously, played on the theme of death; the former in a frightening way while the latter hit a personal chord in anyone who has lost a loved one. Vivien Kis (C’15) and Fridien Nana (C’17) presented solos of incredible and unfathomable skill, then blew everyone’s minds by playing off of each other’s talents in a charged duet. “It was physically and mentally challenging to perform my solo dance,” said Kis, “but when I told myself to think of it as a joy to myself, it became a lot easier, especially with all the support from fellow dancers.”
Other dances shone just as brightly, especially with the exciting surprise of learning that certain people could do their style of dance. Turk Hasnan (C’18), for example, choreographed a hip hop piece that sparked many Yik Yaks expressing, “Turk can dance like that?!” His representation of the element Earth in the Elements dance stood out because of his incredible talent and how different it was from the other Elements. A particular favorite of everyone’s was the All Guys finale, choreographed by Nana, which had everyone in the entire audience (and the dancers backstage) cheering loudly and without inhibition. The third and last night of Perpetual Motion even had the guy dancers ripping and taking off their shirts, much to pleasure and enthusiasm of all who watched. “Leaving the auditorium after Perpetual Motion made me want to get up and dance, before realizing that I can’t. Oh well, there’s always next year!” said Claire Burgess (C’17). Congratulations to all the dancers and to the new elected council members of Perpetual Motion. May next year bring new potential, improve current dancers, and present the community with another wonderful performance that shows how much joy dancing can bring to everyone.