Emerson boasts X-ception to Dance conventions

by Beacon Staff • February 13, 2008

Body-bending leaps, twists and turns moved in unison to an equally fluid variety of music during the dry rehearsal for Emerson's Experimental Dance. In a particularly moving number, a single dancer writhed on stage while cool blue and green lights cut at intervals through the otherwise pitch darkness of the Greene Theatre. Also present was Marlena Yanetti, the show's art director and Emerson College's dancer-in-residence.

According to Emerson's Performing Arts Web site, Marlena has appeared in various productions both on- and off-Broadway, including How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, Unsinkable Molly Brown and Talent '61. She has also choreographed several shows in various venues in and around Boston, including Emerson's Faculty Dance Concerts.

When asked to give an overall theme or concept for the show, Marlena remained vague, only saying that the show promises to be fun and adding that her primary approach as an art director is to be as conceptually hands-off as possible while still supporting the choreographers and dancers. In spite of-or perhaps even because of-this approach, the dances have started to take on a cohesiveness that seems to be independent from both the art director and the choreographers.

"I wanted to let the choreographers approach the pieces in their own ways, and I found that they were all using different approaches but doing essentially the same thing," Marlena said.

This seems to suggest that while there is no overarching concept behind this show, there does seem to be an implicit thematic link.

The lack of an obvious theme in the show is mirrored by a vast diversity in the musical offerings. X Dance features music ranging from relatively mainstream pieces by Pink Floyd and Leonard Cohen to more obscure selections-one dance is accompanied by a spoken word piece, while another is supplemented by a vocal accompaniment from one of the company's dancers. While a complete track listing was unavailable from Yannetti due to the choreographers all selecting their own music, she did say that the auditory portion of the show would be eclectic at the very least.

Emerson students Chelsea Lembo, Tim Stokel, Megan Donovan, Brittany Hershkowitz, Kira Cowan and Maryann Colella choreographed X-Dance. Marlena attributes the extensive variety in the choreographers' approaches to the wide range of majors present in the company. "I've got marketing majors, writing majors.it's not just people in the dance minor. It's interesting.you have to think about how a writing major is going to approach movement very differently from a film major."

By bringing students from different majors together to create the show, Marlena is hoping to bridge the gap that appears at Emerson, a school where majors and extra-curricular activities often blur into one.

X-Dance opens on Feb. 14 at 8 p.m. (If you already have plans on the big night, there are also shows on Friday at 8 and Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m.) in the Greene Theatre. Tickets are $5 and may be purchased Monday-Friday from 12 p.m.-5 p.m. or one hour before the show at the Emerson Stage Box Office or by calling 617- 824-8369.,Jessica O'Byrne