Modern American Dance Company, the University of Missouri-St. Louis’ resident professional dance company, took over the Lee Theater in the Touhill Performing Arts Center last Friday and Saturday, showcasing their eclectic styling through their vibrant energy and unquestionable passion for modern dance.
Originally co-founded in 1976 under the identity Mid America Dance Company, MADCO has been recognized for their use of athletics and unique showcases. The professional dance company has been associated with the UM-St. Louis campus since 2007, where they not only hold practice but help run an internship for aspiring young dancers.
After a brief introduction from Stacy West, the company’s Executive/ Artistic Director of the St. Louis-based area, the show opened with their first dance called “Private Storms.”
Categorized as the classical side of contemporary, this was a fluid performance, set to the tune of exotic music and tambourine strikes.
Creating the illusion of floating about the stage, the performers were light on their feet which worked towards effortless landings. The outfits resembling sorbet were warm and breathed the essence of spring, almost melting into the figures of the dancer. The lone dancer left in the end swaying to her innermost thoughts left none disturbed, exposing her heartfelt love affair with dance. What worked well with this performance is that while it started off somewhat stagnant, it escalates into a celebration of life.
The next piece, “60 by 60,” was a re-creation of an already existent dance. It was a quirky performance set to the sounds of electronic music, a President Obama speech, dog sounds, chimes, and an annoying child repeating the word “Dad.”
While the athletic costuming in this piece came off as non-congruent with the dance, the effort the dancers gave the audience was non-stop. This modern dance gave its audience a taste of tap and pointe-work and ended in a colorful dance party.
As intermission was about to approach, the company left its audience wanting more with their simulation of a dance sweatshop in “Movement Activities: Response.”
Set in a fast-paced motion, with dancers running around the stage as if their heads were cut off, the use of body elevation from high to low kept the performance entertaining. As one of the best performances of the night, the dancers and on-looking audience were taken on a ride.
After intermission, two premiere pieces were shown. The first was created by MADCO dancer, Lindsey Hawkins, called “Little Voices.” Sporting bright tights and tutus around the stage, the performers created what appeared to be an old-school Super Mario’s game, prancing around the stage like children.
The next piece, “In My Life,” seemed to be the crowd favorite with its basketballs, cheerleaders, referees and basketballs. This cutesy, quirky performance left the crowd in high spirits. Also, recognition to the live band that backed them up must be given.
The show closed with a powerful Gothic presentation called “Twenty 12.” With a projector in the background belting out the prophecy of the fallen dancers, the performance was hard to look away from: dancers crawling about the stage in distress, the shifts from defeat to hope, black ripped leotards exposing just enough skin … it told a story.
Separately, each dance showcased its own strength and identity but lacked a main common theme. This is seen through performances such as “In My Life” and “Twenty 12”: comedy versus drama. But this does not take away from the apparent talent, heart and soul the dancers left on the stage. With an open mind and a love for modern dance, this performance sent its audience away with impressive visuals. B+ –Ashley Atkins