The UCLU Dance Society’s Annual Show makes the audience question what defines us and how we can express ourselves for who we are, write Juliette Roberts and Charlotte Procter.
The opening of the show started with a video clip of various people recounting what they think it is to be human and how they identify themselves. The clip set the tone for the evening and got the audience thinking about the main themes of the show: what defines us – identity, culture, nationality – and how we express ourselves for who we are, without any pretence. Whilst the first few dances seemed slightly out of time in places, the passion and commitment of the dancers shone through, and this issue was soon resolved as the show progressed. The use of the occasional voice over helped to keep the audience focused on the theme and served as a useful tool to switch between different dances. One of the first great performances of the night was a trio tap dance. I have always loved watching tap and their precision and energy was incredible to see. The following dance performed by a couple was in a modern ballroom style and reflected the high pressures of day to day modern life. It demonstrated how people are constantly rushing around, particularly in London, and so it was fast paced and exciting. The first big cheer of the first evening went to a burlesque style group dance, which although not being as technical as the other dances and having the dancers slightly crowded on stage, was a real audience pleaser, particularly the choice of a Beyonce song. This dance was about sexual liberation and highlighted the importance of women expressing themselves however they want to. It certainly promoted a positive and inspirational portrayal of the female body, which seemed particularly significant so soon after International Women’s Day.
The last few dances of the first half were very good. The choreography was clever: for example, the second tap dance of the night was about public loos and the separation of male and female sexes. Toilet cubicles were put on stage and the dancers went behind them so all the focus was on their footwork. It was an original idea and very effective as it is not about how someone looks but rather about who one is. Just when you thought the audience could not get more enthusiastic and full of enjoyment, the final dance of the first act came on – a Bhangra dance. The use of the drums on stage added authenticity and excitement. The costumes were colourful and gave the performance a positive feel. This final performance of the act left the audience full of life during the interval and excited for the next half.
The second half started with a bang. The quality of the dances was more advanced and they were executed very professionally. In particular the Latin ballroom group dance was mesmerising and included some amazing lifts and tricks. A unique moment of the show was the stomp-style dance that used plastic bottles as well as the dancers’ own bodies to make sounds. This brought about a change of pace after listening to recorded music for over an hour. One of my favourite acts of the night was an Acro routine performed by three girls. It was perfectly danced and beautiful to watch. The audience held their breath as they watched the dancers gracefully move and bend across the stage. It was that moment when you think to yourself – I want to do that! Finally, the conclusion of the evening was full of life with a last female group dance to classic Disco tunes. The first night audience was buzzing to applaud the talented cast and celebrate their much appreciated hard work and dedication. The show closed with all dancers taking to the stage to give their final bows… or should I say moves! A very enjoyable evening all in all, well worth a visit to the Shaw Theatre for an uplifting and feel-good performance.
Images: Dante Kim