Blue, red, yellow, green and other assorted hues filled the brightly lit Buchwald-Wright Gallery during Common Hour on Oct 24. Dancers from Assistant Professor of Dance Kora Radella’s Beginning Dance Fundamentals (DANC 107) course dressed in solid colors to complement Meg Cranston’s exhibition Hue, Saturation, Value: The Archer Paintings in their contact improvisation performance, Kaleidoscope. The students performed improvisational compositions in front of the exhibit in the upper level of the Gund Gallery for a small audience of faculty and their peers.
The music of Ross Feller, a solo saxophonist who accompanied the dancers, ranged from hectic series of rapidly changing notes to slow haunting tones. In certain moments, the dancers responded to the sounds of the saxophone, while in others the saxophonist reacted to the movements of the dancers.
Katie Hileman ’22 has taken part in dance classes and performances since she was a child.
Coming into Kenyon, Hileman knew she didn’t want to major in dance, but she still hoped to re-tain dancing as a prominent part of her life. Classes like Dance Fun-damentals have provided her with much-needed outlets for move-ment that contrast with her prior dance experience. “I’ve never done improvisation before … Because I was classically trained, it’s hard for me to break barriers when I do things because I’m so used to pointing my toes and perfect extensions,” Hileman said. “You just go with the flow, and that’s a blessing and a curse because for me it lightens me up but at the same time I have no idea how to do it.” As opposed to other forms of dance, contact improvisation is about themes rather than chore-ography. The specific movements that the dancers will perform are not predetermined. Instead, they come up with ideas and concepts to centralize their movements around. In preparation for Kalei-doscope, the students were divided into groups of four or five. Each group came up with their own ideas to bring to Kaleidoscope, then collectively figured out how they would relate their ideas to the theme of color. The experimental nature of Cranston’s art is a concept that she discussed with the Begin-ning Dance Fundamentals course when she came to speak with them earlier in the semester. The stu-dents carried this experimental quality into their own movements to produce a performance that was artistically diverse and striking. Jonathan Pastor ’23, a student in the class, noted that it is some-times challenging to find the flow of the performance and make sense of how you are moving and why. Pastor said that the class en-couraged students to think more openly about the ways that they move in relation to others. “It’s like seeing the validation of dis-comfort,” he said in reference to overcoming his initial uneasiness with experimenting in physical contact with his classmates. The experimental nature of Ka-leidoscope and of contact impro-visation encourages students to move past the awkwardness that is often associated with physical connections to other people. As a result, the performance felt open and accessible, drawing the au-dience in to embrace this unique honesty of movement.