Costumes, music and imagery collide in poetic display for ‘Landscape Stories’

Ishan Patel, Contributing Reporter

The Newcomb Dance Company’s fall show, “Landscape Stories,” opened to a nearly sold-out show Tuesday night. The show featured several impressive pieces, each drawing inspiration from the unusual set to create a unique story.

The set is primarily constructed with materials that one would find in a junkyard: rusted metal, old nets and plastic. These materials come together in an abstract backdrop that includes a center-stage platform, large angular structures made from metal and plastic green netting covering the walls. Each of the six choreographers came up with different interpretations of the landscape.

Alice Pascal Escher, who choreographed the piece called “Rig,” came up with the name after realizing that the set reminded her of an oil rig.

“When I walked into the space after it was designed, I thought it looked like an oil rig, and so I took the image of the fish underneath, and life above and below the water and incorporated it into the piece,” Escher said.

For Escher, the most difficult part of choreographing the piece was incorporating the set into the dance while also using it as imagery. The performers’ effortless portrayals of waves and sea anemones helped Escher achieve her vision. All the dancers sweep through the various props on set smoothly and gracefully. The clean movements of each performer through the abstract props in center-stage are awe-inspiring. A couple of dancers had the opportunity of dancing on the seven-foot platform and they seize it completely, moving along with great poise.

The costume design by Nicole Watts compliments the setting. The dark and gloomy landscape is contrasted with the light blues and greens of the outfits. This contrast in the overall mood of the show is quite central to the piece “Carried by Grace,” choreographed by Kehinde Ishangi.

“It was about having a loved one and dealing with the loss of that person who carried us through life,” sophomore Keiko Leong said.

The costumes only change once in the show: in one “dada” piece, where two dancers are wrapped in glowing white lights.

“We used a screen to make a cage for these firefly-like things and then set them free,” freshman Hannah Broussard said. The change in costume is not only aesthetically pleasing, but it ties in with the theme of the piece, which deals with breaking out.

The show would not be the same without the composer, Brendan Connelly, whose tunes are carefully selected to match the mood of each piece, which is set by the choreography. The music and dancers are completely in sync with each other, and together they weave the various stories being told.

“Landscape Stories” is a magical showcase of poetry in motion that should be watched for its great set, fantastic story-telling sense, and for the students’ bravura performances.

“I just hope the audience’s perspective on dance widens after watching the show,” Broussard said. “I want them to see how many different things you can do in dance.”