Vicariously Dancing Underground


My clumsy, awkward 8-year-old self never got to take those dance lessons I so desperately wanted (needed), so I attend dance performances whenever I can in an attempt to live vicariously through the performers.

Dance Association’s third annual Dance Underground fed that hunger, and then some.

The night had significantly fewer acts compared to last year’s program, which added to its cozy, intimate feel. The diversity in styles also kept the audience on their toes. Although the program only consisted of 12 acts, each seemed to move at its own pace.

Dance Underground’s opening night came in with a bang, kicking off with a tap number to Tina Turner’s classic “Proud Mary.” A cute, feel-good first act, this set the stage for a night of sheer enjoyment. The program progressed from “Aa Re Pritam Pyare,” a sassy Bollywood performance to a feisty solo act by guest artist Andrea Kron.

The night really hit a high when dancers dressed as a slice of bacon and a sunny-side up egg took the stage to the tune of “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” and roars of laughter from the audience. Passion met hilarity during this number, and it gave the night a dose of humility and lightheartedness that dance performances often lack.

Culture Shock turned up the heat next, followed by a genuine, sweet duet choreographed by Dance Association President Ian Brodsky.

Fierce was served on a silver platter during “Judas,” which cheers from the audience at 10 second intervals can attest to. A number performed with precision and attitude, it featured backup dancers dressed in black, an almost angelic figure painted white and Dance Association Historian Eric Kirsch giving realness in royal blue.

The New Paltz Dance Team showed their wild side during “Jungle,” and the mood was toned down a few notches during “Not Alone,” as a poignant song was paired with a contemporary duet.

Dance Association Historian Kyle Ducham followed with a solo piece, “He Needs Me,” which felt the right balance of precise and whimsical throughout.

Another dose of hilarity swooped in like a bat out of hell during jazzy “Mess Around,” a dance that revolved around a wedding scene and silly guests to the tune of the title number by Ray Charles.

MPOWER Dance Team closed the show, and I couldn’t think of a better way to end the night than with the talent of the future — and damn, were they talented. From African dance to contemporary hip hop, they tore it up, and the response was overwhelming.

Dance Underground may only be three years old, but it’s maturing into such a fierce toddler that I can’t wait to see what the next few years will bring. A legacy continued from FreshDance, the show as a whole was equal to the sum of its parts. Although a few numbers ended abruptly, they were all able to stand on their own and be just as enjoyable as if they came together as a collaborative unit.

The night’s vast diversity from performance to performance is a bragging right of Dance Underground that, even as it matures within the next few years, I hope it never loses. Likewise, the humility and silliness displayed by the dancers who could be taking themselves way too seriously is a component of the performance as a whole that keeps the audience wanting more.

Dance Association should be proud of the child they’ve reared, and a little worried that it might take over the world.

 3 out of 4 stars