Pulsing pop music, brightly-colored costumes and an overwhelming appreciation for the art of dance filled The Paramount Theater at the Charlottesville Downtown Mall Saturday afternoon. Beginning at 1 p.m., the University Dance Club’s Spring Showcase welcomed friends and family of the club’s student dancers, who filled out the auditorium to watch the show.
Saturday’s showcase featured 100 University student dancers across its 20 numbers and was performed in two acts.
The theme of the showcase was “Kill the Lights,” which, according to Amanda Engel, a fourth-year College student and University Dance Club president, “just represents us wanting to have fun and leave it all out on the stage.”
Under this broader “Kill the Lights” theme, the showcase covered a vast array of topics and dance styles.
“There’s a huge variety of styles,” said Kayla Wallet, third-year Engineering student and UDC vice president. “So we have a ballet piece, two tap pieces, a bunch of jazz, some hip-hop, some lyrical, some heels dances. A little bit of everything … it’s nice to have that variety.”
The dances also differed widely from one another in the number of performers in each dance, from several solos and duets to a massive 20-person group number that closed out the first act of the show.
This large group dance was a showcase highlight, entitled “Michael Jackson Mix.” The jazz heels dance featured dancers in various outfits — all with the colors red, white and black — dancing to the smash hits “Bad,” “The Way You Make Me Feel” and “Dirty Diana,” with the final evil laugh in “Thriller” included at the end of the mix.
Sophia Martinese, third-year Engineering student and choreography co-chair of the club, described the number as a commemoration of Michael Jackson’s passing a decade ago. Martinese emphasized that the dance’s focus was less on Michael Jackson as an individual and more on his contributions to dance and music.
“[Jackson did] a lot for minorities and … changing the way the industry functioned,” Martinese said. “And so that’s sort of what the dance commemorates … it’s a celebration of those achievements.”
Another show highlight was a group dance to Ed Sheeran’s “Bloodstream,” a lyrical number on the effects of alcoholism, choreographed by fourth-year Commerce student Maddie Coder. The highly emotive piece featured 10 dancers in dark red dresses with a wine bottle as the main prop.
Preparations for the showcase began back in the first week of the semester during auditions, and on top of choreography and rehearsal sessions, the weeks leading up to the showcase also entailed a substantial publicity push. The push included a Facebook page, drawing announcements in chalk, posting flyers around Grounds and painting Beta Bridge.
These efforts proved successful Saturday as the audience filled approximately half of the seats in the 1040-seat theater — a testament to the power of dance to foster community.
“I love University Dance Club because it’s my extracurricular that doesn’t feel like an extracurricular,” Wallet said. “It’s more than just … dancing because of the community of people that we’re surrounded by, so I really look forward to going to dance every time because of the people that I’m with. And we’re all doing something we love, so there’s something very uniting about that.”