Encounters: A Night of Poetry, Dance and Creative Expression

Running from February 26 through March 2, “Encounters” was a emotional and breathtaking performance by ten dancers and three narrators on the redesigned Bruce Davis Theatre floor, where each person stood in the literal limelight (on top of a glass cutout in the floor with lights shining through it) to talk about their lives. This was not just a dance show, but also one that included poetry and spoken word.  Performers sang and recited poetry alongside the individual choreography of the dancers.

A mixture of fantasy and reality, “Encounters” allows the audience to peek into the dancer’s worlds for a moment. In the theatre, there were four rows of benches set up at each side of the room and in the center, on a black tarp-like stage the dancers stretched before waiting to begin their performance. In the center, a square glass addition had been added to allow the person speaking to be in the center and to draw attention to them. Each of the ten dancers had an introduction, which was either a story about themselves or a poem that really spoke to them, followed by specific choreography to their personalities. In addition to the introductions, many of the dancers had solos or duets. The costumes were all white and tan made of undyed, natural fibers to represent the personal, raw nature of the dancer’s stories. As costume designer Prof. Jessica Lustig pointed out, “the only color in the show was the handprints on the columns – the human touch literally is what colors this place.”

One of the most striking of performances had junior Celia Rector and sophomore Windy Vorwick connected in a duet that had them both finishing each other’s steps and words. They gave a powerful monologue on women and gender equality through a first-person story in the life of a woman. Celia Rector said “the hardest part of the show (for me) was making a whole bunch of different pieces fit together. Transitions were really tricky at first because we wanted to make sure everything made a cohesive whole.”Another highlight was senior Shukriyyah Greaves, who talked about needing peace in a world that sees her as the enemy, a very consciousness and symbolic dance that was powerful and raw. Freshman Austin Gore was impressed with the show, saying “I admired the bravery of all of the students in the production of “Encounters,” because it was about their own lives. There is nothing more vulnerable than placing yourself in front of an audience to express yourself, and when it is your actual self and not a character, that takes an immense amount of bravery.”

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