A Write-Up about Dance by Someone Who Knows Nothing About It


Piper Blue McGonigle

I don’t know much about dance. In fact, watching me, one might say that I know the littlest about dance that anyone ever has. But if you’ll excuse my lack of expertise, I have some thoughts to share about Dance Ensemble’s Saturday recital.

The show opened with a flowing number choreographed by Jenna Rankinen. The dancers rocked elegant red pants. (Disclaimer; I’m a sucker for cool outfits and colored-stage-lighting, so we’re lucky that’s not what this entire article is about).

One reason I love dance is because of its power to transform. Over the course of the recital, dancers became a powerful boat and ocean waves to How Far I’ll Go. Later, ballerinas swirled across the stage to Yellow, becoming twirling tulips. During a modern take on Swan Lake, dancer Ellie Wright’s powerful arms transformed to swan’s wings before my eyes–and the moment of Rankinen’s leap timed so perfectly with the music’s building intensity that it gave me goosebumps…(swan-bumps?)

Other performances were beautiful because of dancers’ palpable joy. KPop’s Mash-Up was colorful in costume and technique. The fun was contagious. Fans in the audience cheered and sang. Even I found myself bobbing my head (about as close to dancing as I get). Social Dance and Kickline kicked (wink wink) it up with fun, jazzy energy.

Other highlights included the bright energy of the Hip-Hop mash-up, and graceful Jazz dancers contrasting the industrial feeling of Imagine Dragon’s Machine.

Illuminated in green light, Modern-2 dancers embodied mysterious jungle power. They moved lithely with Justin Timberlake’s Don’t Hold the Wall. Watching made me feel like we were underwater.

Contemporary-1 danced to Sia’s Bird Set Free with versatile moves; at once flowy and explosive. My heart was stirred by the music, the movement, the trippy contrast of purple-yellow lighting.

Samantha Polk and Sydney Shearer choreographed an eerie story to Lana Del Rey’s Once Upon a Dream. Dancers’ doll-like movements mimicked puppets as they danced a dream within a dream.

Tap’s performance was an exciting take on Puttin’ on the Ritz. I loved the dancers’ flapper costumes and LOVED their boa scarves. Tap is a delight for the eyes and ears! That sweet sound of tap-shoes clickety-clacking is so pleasing.

Every dancer took to the stage in a celebratory surprise finale. (The JoBro’s classic bop making an excellent choice.) I probably should’ve told you about the finale last, but I’m a writer so I’m not going to. Instead I’ll leave you with the performance that most stuck with me.

Lyrical-2’s dance to Younger was the final in the showcase, the last that club-president Katie Burket will direct at Juniata. As Burket’s voice filled the auditorium, telling us about choreographing her last dance, it quavered with emotion. Her love for Dance Ensemble was unmistakable.

On stage, in lovely pink dresses, the dancers streamed and flourished; equal parts joy and poignancy. In the audience, the song rang in my ears, “I wish I was younger, just take me back.” I’m a senior, too. As for Burket’s song choice all I can say is; I felt that.

When the auditorium lights came back on, I wasn’t the only person with tears in my eyes.