Photo by Eric Shi.

eXpressions’ ‘Linked’ continues company’s commitment to artistry over flash

Originally published November 6th, 2013 in The Daily Princetonian.

eXpressions’ fall show, “Linked,” showcases the company’s commitment to artistic pursuits and displaying its members in the best possible light. Sure, there are pieces that sit comfortably within the company’s historical area of expertise, lyrical and jazz. But under the direction of co-artistic directors Sarah Rose ’14 and Robin Palmer ’15, the clarity of overarching themes and concepts imbue otherwise middling pieces with narrative or emotive qualities that draw the audience in.

“Linked” opens with “Connect/Disconnect,” a piece choreographed by Rose to Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful.” It is unusual for an opening piece to be choreographed to such down-tempo music. While the piece isn’t a showstopper, it is a testament to eXpressions’ value of artistry over flash. The song choice was deliberate, as evidenced by the physical analogues of support and communication that illustrate the larger theme of the ebb and flow of relationships.

After the rather subtle opener, eXpressions ups the ante with “8 Femmes/2,” choreographed by Madeleine Planeix-Crocker ’15. The four dancers come alive as they attack the beats, taking on a more aggressive movement quality. The choreography itself is actually a clever arrangement of a single repeated phrase. Using an array of choreographic modifications in formation or pairing, Planeix-Crocker keeps the audience entertained and draws the viewer’s focus to different moments of the choreography.

One of the most memorable pieces of the show was the purest in terms of style. “Still Down,” choreographed by eXpressions alumna, Catherine Hsieh ’12, showcases the company’s classical technique, which has definitely improved. Unless you glanced at your program, you would have no idea that Laurel Easterling ’17 and Abby Grosskopf ’17 are newcomers to the group. The gorgeous lines and interesting formations are further enhanced by the synchronicity of the choreography.

As a counterpoint, “Chain Reaction,” choreographed by Abby Williams ’14, incorporates hip-hop vocabulary and successfully blends it with more classical lines. In adopting a more hip-hop approach to musicality, the energy of this piece is through the roof, making it the fastest piece in the show. The 10 dancers fill the stage with their presence while maintaining synchronicity.

Williams is also the Street Editor for The Daily Princetonian.

The second act opens with “Dusty Breath, Fear Released,” choreographed by Silvia Lundgren ’15, one of the many lyrical pieces in the show. The clarity and articulation of movement combined with a variety of formations and dynamic changes makes it the most memorable of the bunch. Lundgren easily steals the spotlight with her believability and execution.

“Linked” goes out with a bang on “Wings,” a piece choreographed by Jean Smith GS. The final company piece is sassy and largely jazz in style. Smith’s choreography lives up to the energy of the song, including a section where dancers perform a series of continuous fouettes.

Although these pieces were great, “Linked” isn’t perfect in its entirety. The choreography was solid across the board and excellent in some cases, but the issue lies in execution. In the less synchronized pieces, individual differences in performance quality, technical ability and flexibility are evident, detracting from the choreography. There is also the issue that some viewers may find that there is not enough stylistic variety in the show, as it is still largely lyrical in composition.

Overall, “Linked” is a well-conceived showcase of eXpressions’ strengths, namely thematic continuity and conceptual execution without the kitsche. With a runtime of a little more than an hour, the show is entertaining and worth the price of admission.

3.5 out of 5 paws

Pros: Great concepts with interesting execution, cohesive and fun.

Cons:  Dancers vary in technical and performance ability. Show is very heavy on lyrical pieces.

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