It was the best of both worlds?#34;being a couch potato at a live performance. Oak Park and River Forest High School's Orchesis' Spring 2005 Dance concert dialed up a TV guide offering of dances inspired by television shows. The only problem is, I don't watch much TV anymore. In desperation, I tapped Princess Chukwu and Tabitha Watson, the two OPRF girls sitting in front of me, who filled me in on the various shows' content and storyline.
Opening the concert was Channel 44's Gitanas, a pulsing Latin dance to the music of Ricky Martin. Dancers in black satin with red belt, lacings and headbands spiraled out with subtle shimmies and sensual hesitating steps.
Elimidate, a reality dating show, began with five young men dancing with abandon, as if alone in their bedrooms. One by one, girls enter, then hug and dance with each guy?#34;including some great lifts?#34;a dream come true, no doubt, for the boys.
CBS's Survivor (I had heard of this show) took place in front of scenic design, which looked a little like tribal fabric swatches, showcasing the work of art students from Lindy Novotny's drawing class. The dancers, in ripped costumes, coupled off, helping one another up or casting each other off, evoking the competitive nature of the show. The dramatic ending had the troupe running downstage right and collapsing in a sudden blackout.
I was disappointed by "Local Forecast," a cute allusion to The Weather Channel. A recreation of the famous Singin' in the Rain number had troupe members tap dancing on wet sidewalks and splashing in imaginary gutters. The dancers were clad in raincoats and carried umbrellas, which were used to full effect, but the tap was unremarkable.
A Colorado boy's relationship to his doctor father is the basis for Everwood. Paintings of mountains, again by students from Novotny's class, served as the backdrop. A single dancer moved to live music, a simple strain played on the piano by Cole DeGenova. As more dancers entered, the music switched to a taped version. This stunning piece never broke its flow, displaying the remarkable maturity of these young dancers.
A blast of energy spewed out over the audience in 106th and Park, a music video show. A window into teens' basements opened as we watched kids loll on couches and dance to music by Silk, Usher, Destiny's Child, and Jennifer Lopez. There was no self-conscious fumbling on the dance floor here. These kids know how to dance and revel, stomping to the beat with raw motion. Girls and guys bent over at a 90-degree angle from the waist while shimmying their legs as fast as a hummingbird's wings. How do they do that? A fantastic finish to the first half of the concert!
In Ballroom Dance!, competing couples with numbers on their backs glided around a never-ending circular treadmill. A judge with a clipboard stood in the middle
taking notes on their tangos, and ultimately was caught up in the dance. Nicely staged, but the dancing was uneven and a little
"Wild on Discovery" was one of the concert's highlights, presented as a jungle set with costumes evoking classical and modern dance. The "animals" moved with survivor instincts, sprinting across the stage to pulsing drums.
Orchesis is an impressive high school dance troupe, so it's not entirely a surprise that director Lucy Vurusic-Riner was recently honored as Best Midwest High School Dance Teacher of the Year and finished second nationally.
?#34;Mary Lee O'Brien