BAC’s “Apocalypse” a mixed bag

Originally published November 29th, 2012 in The Daily Princetonian.

BAC’s “Apocalypse” is a show of moments and standout individual performances. As a whole, though, “Apocalypse” appears almost uneven. Highly impressive pieces are scattered throughout, making pieces that would otherwise appear perfectly solid look underwhelming. With a theme like “Apocalypse,” one would expect Hunger Games-esque, zombie-inspired pieces or creative use of aliens, explosions or flames in the style of last year’s “Bonfire” piece. Instead, with its fall show, BAC has delivered a mixed bag, a collection of episodes that range in style and execution.

“Apocalypse” opens with “Let the World Burn,” choreographed by artistic director Ethan Leeman ’13, in which BAC kills a Meek Mill track, as per usual. Much like the rest of the first half of the show, this piece plays to BAC’s strengths — hype, aggression and big movements.

“Ablaze,” choreographed by vice president Jordan Best ’13, quickly switches up the pace of the show with a smooth piece set to Bridge and Miguel. Despite the slower R&B tempo, the choreography maintains the first piece’s energy through formation and dynamic changes, shifting your attention from the lyrics to the beats and back.

From a technical perspective, this piece was very clean, with crisp dime stops and well-articulated ticking. But what’s more impressive is the unity in expression. Every dancer in the piece feels the music in similar ways, a unity reflected in the synchronization present in even the more flowy phrases of choreography. Although this piece might not have you out of your seat, it’s the one you’ll go back to over and over again.

Another highlight is “Bringing’ It Bac(k),” choreographed by McKenzie Dawkins ’14, which capitalizes on a medley of ‘90s pop-R&B tracks, including TLC and Janet Jackson, to showcase the balance between strength and sensuality in the dancers. The seven women, all costumed as Rosie the Riveter, elevate the energy in the room the second the music starts.

Similarly, Cha’yra Eddie ’14 gets the crowd going with “Just. Dance.”, in which two crews dance it out. The dancers’ acting is convincing, projecting confidence through simple yet effective movements. Eddie’s choreography impressively matches Lil Wayne’s flow in “My Homies Still,” allowing the dancers to milk every second. For those of you who aren’t interested in women, don’t worry because this year’s guys’ piece, “50 Shades of Purple” by Kovey Coles ’15, will surely catch your eye. BAC’s men demand your attention by playing to the crowd and keeping the energy up with rapid formation changes.

Just as soon as you might think that BAC is playing it safe with its tried-and-true mix of East Coast hip-hop and R&B, it changes it up by throwing in entire pieces choreographed in funk styles that were barely present as partial 8-counts in previous shows. The first of these pieces is “A-Lock-Alypse,” another piece by Leeman, which is, as the title suggests, a fun locking piece set to “Pretty Young Thing” At first, the dancers seemed a bit uncertain, which reflected in the lack of funk in their movement. However, the energy picks up as the piece goes on and peaks with the funky air guitar.

Next up is a voguing piece titled “Vogue,” choreographed by Dawkins and Marvah Hill Pierre-Louis ’13. The piece opens with a series of fierce posing, priming the audience for all the sass and attitude they’re about to witness. While the women killed all of the African-inspired sections, the voguing could have been more exaggerated, as the style is pretty much carried by attitude and intense caricature.

However, the highlight of the show, for me, was the house piece, “Almost Home,” choreographed by Liyan Zhao ’13. Energy-wise, this was the high point of the latter half of the show, with clean execution of extraordinarily fast and complex footwork that travels all over the stage. There wasn’t a single beat that wasn’t hit. There was even syncopated choreography to implicated beats. If you have never seen house before, get a ticket because this piece is worth the price of admission alone. What’s not to love about a hobo trash-can fire that breaks into frantic housing? Nothing.

While there was certainly a lot of quality dancing in “Apocalypse,” sometimes the subtleties of the music and/or choreography was lost. The best pieces in the show were the more nuanced pieces in which the dancers fully understood the intention and concept, but that only made the absence of these dimensions more apparent in the middling pieces. As a result, Apocalypse is a show of moments and not an immersive experience.

3.5 out of 5 paws

Pros: “Almost Home,” solo moments, something for everyone.

Cons: Individual dancers outshined the rest, loose relevance to theme.

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