Fall dance concert brought audience to their feet with applause


Kendal Manns, Editor-in-Chief

The Alabama State University Department of Theater and Dance presented its fall concert, showcasing an amazing amount of talent.
From Oct. 12-14, the Leila Barlow Theater hosted the event with students, faculty, staff and family in attendance. The concert featured various forms of dance, cinematic themes and inspiring performances. Tickets were $6 for students and $12 for general attendees.
As the lights dimmed, the audience applauded in anticipation. As the darkness settled in, a midnight blue engulfed the stage.
The musical combination of violin and piano in Camille Saint-Saëns’ “Carnival of the Animals: The Swan” created a perfect ambiance for Simone Matchett to perform. Her pure white attire stood out in the sea of blue as she slid and galloped across the stage. Every twirl of her body moved fluidly to the sound of the music, showcasing choreography by James R. Atkinson Jr., the assistant professor of dance at the university. The flapping of her arms and pointing of her toes personified her performance of the “Dying Swan.”
Choreographed by Jerome Nuney Stigler, “Dilemma” showcased the duo of Akeia Fuqua and Joshua Francis. Beginning with a centralized white light, the two matched each other’s movements. As the violin in the Man in A Shed “Jeux d’Espions” ramped up in speed, so did the performers’ movements.
In a mix of gold and blue lighting, Francis showed his strength by lifting Fuqua on his shoulders and the two continued to match each other, leaping off the ground and landing softly back down in unison. The audience sat in awe, especially after learning that the choreography was learned in just two short weeks.
“Le Corsaire” (Grand Pas de deux), the next performance by Kamaria Roberson and Johnathan Ambrose, was choreographed by Marius Petipa and re-staged by Atkinson.
The performance showcased a slower more ballet-centric dance style with both performers displaying incredible balance. Roberson leaped into the air and settled on Ambrose’s shoulders as he lapped around the stage. The crowd cheered at the great feat of strength and elegance in both performers’ movements. The song by the same name elevated the performance even more with triumphant sounds similar to the perfect ending in a Walt Disney movie.
Roberson and Ambrose performed their solos as well, with Roberson’s intricate tip-toed movements appearing so simple, as she glided around the floor. As the intensity of the music rose, so did the speed of her movements. The warmness of the lights on her golden-brown skin was in stark contrast to the cooler midnight blue on the stage. Ambrose performed several spins around the perimeter of the stage receiving a roaring ovation from the crowd.
Choreographed by Lenard Foust, “Wings” featured the first group performance. It began with two dancers highlighted by a singular spotlight. Their blue and gold attire with silver garments flowed back and forth resembling the movement of the performance’s name. Up-tempo beats broke through the silence leading to several other dancers walking onstage. The rhythm and sound of the performance drew similarities to modeling settings. The performers started and stopped to the rhythm of the music, including the jigging and shoulder shrugs. After a couple of solo performances in the final moments, the full group returned to the stage and the performance ended the same way it began with the two original performers flapping their silver wings in the spotlight as the music trails off and the stage fades to black.
“If I Can’t Have You,” choreographed by Stigler, transported the audience back to the 70s with the R&B/Soul hit of the same name. Bright colors highlighted the stage with bright yellows, pinks and blues wrapped around the all-female group. The pink backdrop complimented the 70s setting. The performers tapped into the past with their moves, pulling out a rhythmic dip of the hip that the crowd loved.
A solo by Azya Warrick to “Fare Thee Well” showcased beautiful storytelling from both dancer and singer. Each of Warrick’s movements was fluid and expressive as her body matched the stringed instrument of the music. Lyrics like “One of these mornings in drizzling rain …” were nicely executed with a full body shimmy imitating the rain falling from the sky. The push and pull of her arms and legs told a descriptive story of a dove and as she faded behind the curtain her body flowed as one with the waves.
Choreographed by Stigler, “One of These Mornings” was performed by an all-female ensemble draped in all black. The group split into two and accentuated their movements in unison with each other. They used variations of splits and quick moves through out the performance. Using a combination of agility and flexibility, the performers executed high-striking kicks and twirls.
In the grand finale, several dancers performed “The Glamorous Life.”
Choreographed by Lenard Foust, the performers showcased trust, agility, synchronization, balance and elegance. Drawing similarities to the late great Michael Jackson with signature black hats and jackets with white shirts, each performer got an opportunity to shine. Each one appeared to have a lot of fun, and the crowd’s energy continued to feed into that. This energy was so positive the performers entered the crowd as cheers filled the auditorium.
All the performers and costume designers took their well-deserved bows as the curtain lowered.
For students interested in the Bachelor of Fine Arts’ (BFA) next dance recital, the department will hosts the “Student Choreography Showcase” Oct. 20-21 at 7 p.m. at Leila Barlow Theatre.
Veteran dancer Isaac Vilburn encouraged everyone to come out and support.
“Admission is free, so everybody should come,” he said. “You seen this, wait til you see next week.”