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Moving With Movements

The Movements in Time Fall Preview Event

By Bess Rouse

On Sunday, Movements in Time Dance Company presented an afternoon of performances by various MIT dance groups that included Mocha Moves, Groove Phi Groove, the African Student’s Association’s Gumboot Dance, and Praisedance, as well as Movements in Time.

Paul Njoroge G and Luwam Semere ’01, the MCs of the event, guided the audience through the different dance styles that ranged from hip-hop to liturgical dance.

The first piece, “Spider,” performed by Movements in Time, began a theme which would continue throughout the program: stomping. In crab walking position (imitating spiders), twenty or so dancers stomped on the ground with their hands and feet to the music of Jay Z. As the piece progressed, different groups of dancers chasÉ’d across the stage en masse. Performing in Big Kresge allowed space for all the dancers to move freely -- the dancers were fortunate since most spaces at MIT are not so accommodating.

Mocha Moves, a group which primarily performs at MIT basketball games, was next on the program. Stripping off their white oxford shirts and ties, these women performed the sexiest dance of the afternoon (Paul, the MC, could not quite get over it). The hip-hop style gave way to a cheering section in which the women handclapped around and on their own bodies, and the piece concluded with a single woman lying sprawled on the floor.

“Ghetto Butterflies” was one of the lyrical pieces that the Movement in Time dancers performed. Set to “Field Songs” by Fertile Ground, this piece had fewer dancers than the first. Therefore it was easier to watch the actual movements of the dancers, instead of watching the movement of the group as was the case in the first piece. Later in the program, the group performed another lyrical piece to the music of Sade in “Pearls.”

Praisedance, a Christian dance group, danced two spiritual pieces in which the women wore long black dresses. The dim lighting emphasized the slow deliberate movements of kneeling as if in prayer and arms upraised as if pointing to heaven. Much of the movement was in unison and the group worked well together.

Highlighting the afternoon were the step/stomp pieces performed by Groove Phi Groove and the African Student’s Association. Both of these groups defined synchronicity -- staying perfectly in time without the use of music. The two men of Groove Phi Groove used their bodies and the floor to produce intricate rhythmic patterns, providing for an auratory sensation as well as visual.

Members of the African Student Association performed the Gumboot dance of South Africa in the form of a comical skit. Gold miners, from which the dance originates, used the sounds of slapping their bodies, clapping their hands, and stomping their boots to ease the burden of working and the repressive regime. It was also used in demonstrations against apartheid. In the skit one of the women played a sort of drill sergeant who led the rest of the group to dance. After she left, the group kicked back to the music of a boom box and drank Coca-Cola. The drill sergeant returned again to lead the group in a dance to the words “Coca Cola.” Unlike Groove Phi Groove, these dancers also chanted/called as part of the music of their dance.

The show closed with another large group piece, “Count on Me,” danced by Movements in Time. The piece, set to music from the motion picture Waiting to Exhale, emphasized the power of friendship among women. The women sat in circles and embraced one another several times. Men entered the piece only to partner the women. In particular, a little girl captured the hearts of the audience as she was raised in an overhead lift by one of the men.

All of the pieces in the program varied in style, but what connected them was the sense of enthusiasm in the dancers and the MCs. Despite being an advertised amateur dance group, Movements in Time presented a show filled with energy.