Saturday, February 27, 2010

Review: The Talents of Triple 8

The members of Triple 8 Dance Company have plenty of tricks up their sleeves. Literally. With flowers turning into yards of ribbon and flowing fabric unfolding from fans, their spring show, “Phases,” is perfect evidence of this. But appropriately, the performance is more than just a magic show. Through pieces covering an array of genres, it is an opportunity for the company to show off their wide range of talents.

“Phases” is made up of an almost equal number of traditional East Asian, hip-hop, lyrical, and martial arts numbers, as well as a few dances that come across as a combination of these styles. All but one of the pieces are student-choreographed, and on the whole, the company makes an impressive use of space, lights, and costumes. The opening number, “Passion,” is not a good indication of this, as over 40 dancers cram onto the stage of the Frist theatre, wearing black leggings and ripped white t-shirts, in a generic hip-hop/contemporary piece to music from “Kingdom Hearts II.” But with the subsequent dances, this is quickly forgotten.

The second number, “OperaFace,” is one of the show’s highlights. Beginning with a cute representation of the Peking Opera, this piece morphs into a statement on female strength set to Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.” It may seem like a strange premise, but the choreography is sharp and impeccably executed. The dancers really pull off this peculiar combination of masks, fans, and hip-hop.

Another striking number is “Elemental,” in which the dancers represent the struggle between fire and water to music from the video game “Chrono Cross.” Here, as in many of the pieces, they demonstrate a skillful use of props.

The traditional dances are a treat, and the martial arts pieces, although often incorporated into ridiculous plots, show that many of the company members are well trained in this discipline. Particular mention must be made of the incredible guest performance by Theresa Cho ‘GS, a Triple 8 alum, and Henri Velandia, who teaches salsa on campus and at Princeton Dance & Theatre Studio. With remarkable lifts and seamless coordination, these two give the audience a salsa that puts “Dancing with the Stars” to shame.

In recent years, Triple 8 has grown in size and skill, and “Phases” is a great tribute to that. In the company’s entertaining filler videos and the exciting “Closing Ceremony,” it is evident that there is a fun community behind the performance as well. All in all, a highly enjoyable show.

4/5 paws

Pros: The variety of talents demonstrated by the company members and unique choreography

Cons: A few generic hip-hop pieces and silly premises for the martial arts numbers

"Phases" continues today, Saturday, Feb. 27 at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. in the Frist Film and Performance Theatre.

- Meghan Todt ‘11

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