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No Booty in the Pants

Dancetroupe’s Spring Show Fails Expectations

By Devdoot Majumdar

This being my last term at MIT, I decided that is was high time to discover the full fury of the on-campus arts scene. So, aside from exposing myself to a capella and culture shows, I thought I might hit up a show that nobody seems to hate: Dancetroupe.

Now, this only happens to me once or twice a year. I’ll go to some performance on a whim, and it touches me so that I end up reviewing it. By the fifth act of Dancetroupe’s performance, I realized that this was one of those “once in a lifetime” chances that I couldn’t pass up.

In short, the Dancetroupe performance last Friday was a disaster of Titanic proportions. With some exceptions, the dances were unoriginal, horrendously performed, and numbingly repetitive. One only wonders why the prolific number of memorably awful dances weren’t rooted out in the auditions process. After the fifth dance, I grabbed a pen from a friend, and this article was born.

There is a certain motion one can make with an arm and an elbow. It’s very similar to the motion you might make when asking a passing truckdriver to blow his horn. Thinking it would be fun to tally the number of elbow flaps, I was quickly exhausted by the 30 that I counted in “Too Much Booty in the Pants!” alone, chorographed by Christina Huang ’06.

It appears that the creative diarrhea was epidemic for this Dancetroupe performance. Enid Choi’s “Esaetpirts” (that would be striptease backwards) gave the audience an unfashionably corny song and 11 unfashionably uncoordinated girls dressing themselves up to a beat. Even worse was a dance to “Velvet Pants” by Propellerheads. Though it’s an open question as to what choreographer Bevin Barberich G was trying to achieve, the solos in this dance wouldn’t even cut it at a lame frat party.

At the very sight of a dance of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” I was nervous. But, they didn’t fail me on this one either -- ghastly doesn’t even begin to describe it. Their creative epiphany was that they should dance to Metallica just as they would dance to hip hop, only with lots of head banging. In all, amounted to little more than atavistic twitches in the dark, combined with facial expressions that read, “I’m about to vomit.”

In perhaps the most painfully long pieces of the evening, Yungmoon Chang and Garrett D. Peavy ’04 took Britney Spears’ “Toxic” and brought to it a slow, deliberate, and muddled performance that, though technically sound, were artistically vapid. In a similarly empty dance, “Devotion” by Monica W. Ho ’04, we find another heaping attempt at stirring emotion gone terribly wrong. Perhaps the corniest moment was the choreographer herself stuck in a pose and sillhouetted, garnering stifled laughs rather than the pathos she was going for.

I’m not a student of dance here. And I appreciate it when people can be limber, and I realize that it can be very hard. But here’s my problem -- bad is when you watch a performance and there’s a big difference between what you’re actually seeing and what the dancers intend to perform. The problem in many of Dancetroupe’s performances went far beyond “bad” -- I simply had no idea what the dancers really intended to perform.

With 19 acts, Dancetroupe included at least ten too many. One crucial problem is just that too many girls were in more than one dance. One performer spent some time just standing in center stage after she had apparently forgotten her part of the dance.

Even apart from creativity, the level of coordination on stage that night made hopscotch look lumberous. Dances were blatantly unsynchronized, and the only consistent element was the indelible smile on almost every dancer’s face, during good moments and bad. And so it dawns on me -- more often than not, you pay that $6 to see some neighbor or friend of yours smile. It’s not about dancing at all, it’s about a hopeful smile that rings with: “Please like my dance, I know it’s not perfect, but I have problem sets.”

On the bright side, however, the few exceptional acts seemed all the more extraordinary in light of the evening’s more uninspired moments. Seniors William F. Merrick and Vanessa A. Nadal choreographed a dance that had the genuine feel of a Missy Elliot video. Extremely stylized, the dance was characterized by constant motion that transcended the McCormick elbow flap, named after the dorm from which so much trite dancing emanates.

Justin Timberlake also managed to escape the evening unscathed. Though “Cry Me a River” and “Rock Your Body” were butchered, “Like I Love You” got a tribute from some Phi Kappa Theta boys, among others. They even managed to throw in a visor flip. Managing to capture the dramatic and sudden Timberlake signature moves, they represented the very pinnacle of what Asian men are capable of on the dance floor.

Another valiant effort came from Michelle S. Machon ’04 and perhaps the only dance of the night that involved only women, “Celebration.” However, perhaps the most professional job of the evening came from Jonathan Gonda, Christopher C. Wurts ’04, and John C. Head ’05, who handled the lighting. For even the worst of dances, they managed to provide a touching sillhouette or a heavenly halo, for what little it was worth.

All in all, the take home message is this: if you’re organizing an on-campus arts event, and it’s so long that there’s an intermission, reconsider. This is the last of my reviews for The Tech, and if I leave this campus with one message, it’s that the hopeful smile is not worth a damn cent.