Emerson Dance Company gains 'momentum' with newest show

by Cathleen Cusachs / Beacon Staff • April 16, 2015

With a musical lineup of songs by Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran, Cirque Du Soleil, and BBC Big Band Orchestra—along with, of course, the current hit “Uptown Funk”—Emerson Dance Company had the crowd enthralled at its recent performance.

The co-ed dance group performed its show, Momentum, for an audience of approximately 360. Around 70 undergraduates performed throughout 15 numbers, 14 of which were choreographed by students. The other piece was produced by Merli V. Guerra, an award-winning local dancer. Each piece focused on the idea of the athleticism and strength required for dance.

To create its shows, the organization’s executive board first votes on proposed show ideas, then choreographers pitch their individual concepts for numbers, said senior Allison Boudreau, the EDC president.

“Our marketing director, Nina Ortiz, and our events coordinator, Megan Sutherland, really wanted to push for a kind of athletic feel about dance and the power of dance,” Boudreau, a writing, literature, and publishing major said. “Momentum was one they had come up with mid-winter break, I believe, and we came back from break, voted on it, and that was the winner.”

Paola Arruda, who was in the audience for Momentum, dances for Emerson Urban Dance Theatre, an on-campus group that shares many members with EDC. She said she loved what the EDC accomplished.

“I thought there was a lot of variety in the show,” said Arruda, a freshman journalism major. “I just saw so many different styles, and it wasn’t just one theme, which was a unique touch.”

The costumes reflected the show’s wide range of themes, changing from casual to elegant to creepy to urban within seconds. Boudreau said each dancer is required to pay only $5 per costume, but can optionally pay more. The rest of the show was financed by funds from the Student Government Association.

Boudreau said the company faced several challenges when rehearsing. With the numerous snow days earlier this semester, she said it was difficult to find time to meet. Each act required a two-hour rehearsal once a week since January.

“When there’s a snow day, the Paramount studios do not open, which makes it very difficult to find somewhere to rehearse,” Boudreau said. “We also do have a significant portion of off-campus dancers, so when the T shuts down or the weather’s particularly bad, when it’s not safe for them to come in, we ask them not to.”

EDC also has 14 members set to graduate this year, which Boudreau said will leave a significant hole in the company.

“Our seniors are a real backbone in our company,” said Boudreau, who, after this year, still has a semester at Emerson left. “They’re awesome at helping new members come into the company, and they’re a great source of support for the company overall.”

During intermission, each graduating student was honored in front of the audience, receiving thunderous applause.

Act I contained seven numbers including “The Uptown Special,” featuring Bruno Mars’ funky hit, “The Worlds Meet” by Cirque Du Soleil, and Arruda’s favorite, the Fifty Shades of Grey remix of Beyoncé’s classic “Crazy In Love.” The remix, choreographed by Brendan Gosse, was performed by dancers wearing black lace with smeared black makeup on their face. They moved in a way to mimic madness.

“It was a contemporary piece, and I just thought it was beautiful and kind of creepy,” Arruda said, “but it was very well done.”

The second act opened with a number titled “With You,” featuring a song by Odesza and guest-choreographed by Guerra. The ending came when 13 students sporting EDC shirts ran on stage from the edges of the audience and danced to an original mix.

“This semester was kind of an uphill battle, and then I watched the show come together that Thursday and it was one of the most magical experiences of my life seeing the way it ended up,” Boudreau said. “I just think it was beautiful, and I’m so happy that other people had such a positive reaction to what the choreographers and the dancers put into this showcase.”