To Command a Stage

Apocalypse
Performed by the Princeton Black Arts Company
Thursday (11/29) 8pm, Friday (11/30) 6:30pm and 9pm, Saturday (12/1) 6:30pm and 9pm
Frist Film and Performance Theater
$8 

 

 

One of BAC’s best points has always been their ability to cram ridiculous amounts of energy into small spaces. When they walk on the stage, they command your attention. In fact, they demand it. For those who love that, Apocalypse won’t disappoint. The aggressiveness of their dancing is absolutely unapologetic.

Ethan Leeman’s ’13 “Let the World Burn” is a strong opening piece. Decked out in red and black, the dancers use the stage effectively as they transition from big, sweeping movements to more precise, technical ones and back again. Its energy is only overtaken by Liyan Zhao’s ’13 “Almost Home,” which must have been total hell for the dancers to perform, but is really dynamic to watch. In “Almost Home,” the group of six dancers doesn’t ever take a break; there are virtually no easy catch-a-breather moments. Even when they cluster around the tin garbage can prop at the center of the stage, their intricate footwork boggles the mind.

This is not to say that all of BAC’s pieces are hard-hitting, foot-stomping performances. On the contrary, Apocalypse actually introduces slower, expressive pieces than the usual BAC fare, the best of which was Katie Brite’s ’13 “Too Late”. Mouths taped shut with haphazardly ripped black duct tape, the dancers are somber. While I wouldn’t call their dancing especially smooth, the piece nonetheless has a somewhat haunting quality to it. The end is unexpected, but poignant. Of all the performances, this one was definitely the most thought-provoking and had the best story to tell. “Ablaze”, choreographed by Jordan Best, is another slow piece to be on the lookout for. While it may not be as introspective as “Too Late”, it has a spectacular finish by pairing loose movements with sharp stops. The effect upon the viewer is not unlike perusing a quick series of striking photos.

Of course, as with all shows, there are always weaker pieces and stronger ones. BAC’s girls have incredible confidence when they perform their more sensual moves, but entire pieces dedicated to displaying that particular talent tend to be unmemorable. A constant problem throughout Thursday night’s show was the difference in confidence levels among the dancers. Strong dancers killed it; weak ones looked less convinced about their actions on the stage, and as a result, detracted from the overall presentation of certain performances. Most obvious was the stiffness in dancers for the new, slower pieces.

Ultimately, if you’re looking for a show high on energy and stage presence, BAC’s Apocalypse will be absolutely perfect. If you’re bothered by slightly messy choreography or openly sexual moves, you might be up for some disappointment. Personally, I have really enjoyed seeing BAC grow as a dance group on campus. Apocalypse represents them at their best, but more importantly, it shows that BAC’s still got a thirst for becoming better, even if that takes them outside their comfort zone.

Stay hungry, BAC. We like you best when you are.

About April Hu

April Hu ("Xiaonan" for those not intimidated by the X) is a junior in the Sociology department. She likes tea with milk and honey, fireplaces, cozy chairs, and people. She can be reached at xahu@princeton.edu.
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