This past weekend, the 31 annual Dance Production Workshop show executed its final performance. The theme of this year’s show, 360 Degrees, signified coming full circle. Next year, Dance Production Workshop and the University Contemporary Dance Company, who perform in the fall, will merge to create a unified dance company that will run both shows. Opening with an eerie, mood-setting Radiohead song and ending with an ’80s pop hit, all aspects of dance, music and culture were covered in the show.
Following the off-beat opening, the next dance elevated the mood to party level. Set to three different popular hip-hop songs, “Ladies of Soul” excited the crowd. Later on in the show, another hip-hop song by the Ying Yang twins surprisingly did not provide the beat for a hip-hop dance, but rather for a tap dance choreographed by recent WCU alum, Jennifer Rose. “Cadence” explored the similarities of tap beats and hip-hop beats.
Another interesting use of beats was the dance “The Science of Confrontation,” a ritualistic, African tribal themed number. Intense music, instinctive looking dance moves, simplistic costumes, and even masks all added to the theme.
A very different cultural dance was “Traditions,” choreographed by Danielle Volyand, who wanted to honor her Russian heritage. Starting with the song “Hava Nagila,” the dancers wore long skirts and handkerchiefs over their hair to embody the culture.
This was Voyland’s first year choreographing for the show and she described it as “a wonderful learning experience that will definitely help me in my future.”
Another first time choreographer, senior Casey Hartman, choreographed “Who’s Bad,” a medley of Michael Jackson songs complete with his signature moves and clothing style. Starting with “Scream,” moving into “Bad,” “Billie Jean,” and “Black and White,” the dance covered some of Michael’s best hits through his career and was a great way to get the crowd back into the show after the intermission.
Even though it was Hartman’s first year choreographing, it will be her last year involved as she will be graduating. “I’ve been dancing all my life and I can’t believe it’s finally coming to an end,” Hartman said, “I’m going to miss this because I love to perform.”
Although the show is mostly student choreographed, two dances were done by the two faculty directors of the show, Gretchen Studlien-Webb and Liz Staruch. “Hero Training Camp” by Studlien-Webb added a humorous touch and was a light way to end the first act. “Part and Parcel,” choreographed by Staruch, started off in a unique way. With no music to perform to, dancers counted out the beat themselves until the music kicked in. It was a way to see how dance relies on rhythm and how dancers work together on stage to maintain that rhythm.
As the show wound down, “Shabach” kept the audience captivated with its gospel music and lively performances from the dancers. The choreographer, John W. Graves, III, started off his own dance singing “Amazing Grace,” before the dance exploded into a high energy interpretation of “Baptist, Presbyterian and other Christian churches when captivated moved and ignited by the Holy Spirit,” the program explained.
The finale featured the DPW officers, then the choreographers, then the seniors and finally the entire cast, dancing to “Spin Me Round” by Billy Idol. A huge contrast to the opening number, the closing dance really brought the show through every possible aspect of dance. After such a wide array of songs, dance styles, costumes, and even cultures, this year’s DPW show really “did a 360.