Amy Denham checks out what UCLU Dance Society can whip up in under 24 hours
If someone gave me a selection of music and then told me that I had 23 hours, 59 minutes and 52 seconds to choreograph a dance piece for a show the following day, I’d be pretty panicked. This would mainly be because I don’t know the first thing about choreographing a dance. Thankfully, this was not a concern for UCLU Dance Society in the speedy run-up to their fifth annual 24 hour Showcase for the Anthony Nolan Trust.
The show itself, given the lack of time, was impressive to say the least. The production took place in the intimate atmosphere of the Wilkins Roof Marquee and showcased a variety of well-constructed performances spanning nine different styles of dance. Divided into two parts, the show offered a good taster of what to expect from the society this year.
The evening opened on a cheery note with a hip-hop performance set to a trio of songs including Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk. The scene was set for a series of fun, dynamic, and personable performances. These were delivered as promised, from a saucy Latin dance number to a couple of contemporary and commercial pieces. The music selected for the choreographers to work with was a nice mix of popular music and others that I was less familiar with, yet still appreciated nonetheless.
Amongst the range of talent showcased during the first half was a fluid and strong solo ballet piece, performed and choreographed by Anais Masetti (who also featured later in a very sensual bachata piece). The ballet was a beautiful prologue to the evening – a controlled yet expressive piece of dance set to an interesting electronic track. It was unusual, but refreshing.
The highlight of the first half came in the form of an Irish duo, who very much made the stage their own. The personality, fun, and flirtiness of the number shone through in the well-dressed tap-dancing pair, and was definitely not missed by the audience, who caught each and every raised eyebrow thrown between the two as they went to town on the dance floor. It was well worth seeing, even just for the fashionable masterpiece that was the dancer’s jacket. Kudos to you, sir.
The second half was a strong follow-up to the first. Kicking off with a very tight hip-hop performance, we were quickly led into what was, in my opinion, one of the best performances of the night. The contemporary jazz piece, choreographed by Rosie Pegge and Zoe Whiteley, was one of the larger group dances of the evening. The piece comprised of a series of well-executed, dynamic, and expressive moves that fully involved all six dancers. It was a delight to watch, particularly from the perspective of someone who knows very little about the inner and outer workings of dance – there was a real story being told on stage.
The second half continued on, placing an emphasis on the plentiful contemporary dance skills of the society, as well as showing off a lively street piece and the previously mentioned bachata (a style of dance from the Dominican Republic). The show ended on a good note, with a moving duo from G Natasha and Simi Rujiwattanapong.
There were, however, a few moments of weakness throughout the show: it was evident that some dancers were more confident than others, and a couple of the pieces were a little nondescript. There were also times when music had clearly not been edited together quite as smoothly as it could have been. Given that the show was prepared in such a short space of time, though, I am not surprised.
By the end of the evening, the atmosphere had changed from one of hesitant expectation to a contagious feeling of satisfaction, and it was completely justified. The UCLU Dance Society has a lot to be proud of; this show served as a taster of all the potential that the society possesses this year, and it will be worth our while to keep an eye on them as the year goes on.
Featured image credit: UCLU Dance Society