On April 28, 2012, at 8 p.m., Exhalations Dance Theatre wrapped up its spring showcase, titled “Expressions.” This was the third spring showcase for the dance theatre, and the last for its founder Katherine Alexander, who will be moving on to her fifth year of pharmacy school next semester.
Wrote 2012 Exhalations president Lea Fosbenner of the theme “Expressions,” “this was chosen to highlight how the dancers can interpret their emotions through the art of dance.” And express they did.
Opening the show was Exhalations’ company, dancing to “Let Go” by Frou Frou with choreography by Lea Fosbenner. Company members include Alexander, Fosbenner, Brittany Cerimele, Victoria Climo, Sandi Comunale, Felicia Freger, Kali Fronczekk, Carly Fuller, Shaylyn Livingston, Ariel McKeown, Rachel O’Rorke, Brandi Salter and Emily Stokowski. This opening number suited the theme perfectly. During this first piece, and throughout the show, the dancers literally let go; every turn, every jump, every facial expression showed them letting go and using dance to express themselves.
The second dance of the night, aptly set to “Express Yourself” from the Glee Soundtrack, was performed by the intermediate class, made up of Rachel Bristow, Haley Draper, Stephanie Kuratnick, Kylie McGraw, Bridget McGinty, Stacy Miller, Stephanie Novakowski, Jessica Probst, Hayley Ricy, Jenna Trill and Jennifer Wood, with choreography by Salter.
“Nasty Boys,” music by Janet Jackson and choreography by Victoria Messino, was performed by the advanced class, including Kristen Best, Courtney Caligiuri, Erica Carbaugh, Lauren Curry, Rebecca Ipjian, Kate Iseman, Francine Kusher, Christine Lugaila, Lauren Maha, Christine Sajewski, Kayla Sparkman and Megan Tiernan.
The advanced class later took on another Messino piece, “Fool of Me,” music by Me’Shell Ndegeocellob. Sam Potter executed a series of excellent lifts, and the dancers’ expressions through their movements communicated the sadness of the lyrics in the piece.
The modern/jazz routines were followed by a snappy acro routine, choreographed by Potter, to “Hit the Lights” by Selena Gomez. The level of acrobatics in this routine was high, and the costumes accentuated the dancers’ moves perfectly. The dancers incorporated in this routine were Messino, Fronczekk, O’Rorke, Rebecca Clayton, Maria Clements, Sandi Comunale and Emiley Duespohl.
“Expressions” took a break as Alexander took to the stage to present Exhalations’ graduating seniors. 2012’s graduating class included Cerimele, Fosbenner, Messino, Novakowski, Clements, Seth Laidlaw, Cheryl Dusky, Brooke Mulkins, Marla Veschio, Rachel Bristow, and Rebbeca Clayton.
The beginners, including Dusky, Bianca Coleman, Miranda Cunningham, Karie Diethorne, Denise Herr, Brooke Jackson, Kristina Logan, Kaitlyn Mellor, Kelsey Vale and Christina Yohe, took to the stage with “Grenade” by Bruno Mars. Alexander choreographed the piece and was incredibly proud of the dedication her beginners showed. Their classes began at 7:30 a.m., but they stuck to it and their dedication certainly showed in this piece. It also showed in their second piece, also choreographed by Alexander and set to “Remind Me Who I Am” by Jason Gray. Besides being well-equipped dance-wise, the beginners also showed what some more experienced dancers tend to forget: passion in their faces. Their expressions could not be clearer.
Tutus flew onto the stage for Potter’s acrobatics number to “Music Box” by Regina Spektor. They were gone just as quickly, but their fast-paced number was not one to be overlooked or soon forgotten. It contained very powerful choreography and very powerful dancers. I, for one, would have loved to have seen more.
Duquesne’s Encore Show Choir broke in twice. First, to sing “Love Song” and then again to sing “Beautiful Day.” Their voices were lovely, but I would have loved to have seen more movement from them. Maybe I’ve just been watching too much “Glee.”
“Kaboom,” music by Ursula 1000 and choreography by Fuller, was a lively and colorful tap piece. The tappers were well in sync and formed a cohesive group, which included Fuller, Freger, Yohe, Caligiuri and Kelly Folk.
“Power Trip Ballad and Requiem for a Dream” (music by Maria Mena and Clint Mansell) showcased the talents of Messino both as choreographer, and as a soloist.
This was a high energy routine that required the strength of all dancers involved, including Potter, Messino, O’Rorke, Comunale, Duespohl, Cerimele and Bristow. While Potter fought for his power trip, he was quickly unplugged by the girls as the swirled around him. Potter made some fantastic lifts, highlighting his strength as a dancer and gymnast. The technique of all the dancers was showcased in this piece, as well as their ability to tap into the darker side of their emotions.
A powerful routine to hold the audience’s attention right before intermission.
Expression through movement was the message, and that was never clearer than right after intermission, when only the silhouettes of the dancers were available to the audience.
“The Magic of Us,” music by Bim and The Section Quartet, choreography by Fosbenner, showcased the talents of Salter, Fronczekk, Alexander, Fosbenner and Laidlaw. This was another heavily technical modern number.
The dancing was silhouetted again when Fosbenner, Alexander, Climo, Laidlaw, Freger, Fuller, Stokowski, Fronczekk and Livingston gracefully brushed the stage to choreography by Alexander and music by Imogen Heap, Never Shout Never, and Mumford and Sons, “Sweeping Insensitivity.”
Hip-hop was brought in by Sparkman and her class, including Comunale, Kusher, Carbaugh, Coleman, Cunningham, McGinty, Miller, Mulkins, Dara Stockdell ,Trill, Audra Joseph and Lisa Master. Music was”Dizzy” by Day 26. Hip-hop is hard to feel, especially if you are a ballet-trained dancer, and it was evident that some of the dancers in this number where trying to break free from technique so they could express themselves through unstructured movement.
“Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” by Shania Twain was used by the baton class, including Yohe, Veschio, Herr, Mellor, Patty Camarda, Alexis Ellis, Jenna Lowrey, Carley Risley and Brittany Yu. Yohe choreographed this piece, and batons flew high, with some batonists twirling more than one.
Salter had her number “Rock Your Soul” by Elisa do just that with the intermediate class. These girls are learning fast; their technique is growing, but it was their movement and emotional connection with the audience that really made the piece draw you in.
“Settle Down,” music by Kimbra and choreography by Fuller, was my favorite piece of the evening. It was modern, sexy and quirky, and incorporated dancers with incredible technique and theatrics: Fuller, Salter, Cerimele, Livingston and Freger. The girls took on the idea of the old-fashioned wife and quickly flipped it on its head, whipping their aprons off and dancing with pizzazz.
“Gotcha” was a trio choreographed by Messino, with music by Liza Minelli. Messino, Comunale and O’Rorke were sassy and sizzling in this number slightly reminiscent of “Cell Block Tango” from “Chicago.”
No one saw what was coming when the dancers came out to take their final bows – and then rush the audience to music by Fun Ft. Janelle Monae (Alvin Risk Remix) and choreography by Sparkman. Dancers took the floor and aisles as they danced their hearts out one last time before the curtain came down and another season with Exhalations Dance Theatre came to a close.