i never go to modern dance, and i have long since decided that rock is the devil's answer to music and that with the death of irving berlin the last hope of bearable pop music was gone.
and so there i was, in an orchestra seat close to the stage, watching modern dancers dancing modernly to music that, for the most part, ranged from early-ugly to hip hop hideous. [there was a wonderful interlude of sorts when a bunch of them tap-danced to 'singin' in the rain,' but halfway through, that morphed into some sort of rap piece, though the dancers tapped gamely on.]
in spite of this, i enjoyed myself immensely. i was there because some of the members of the 90-person dance club were former students of mine, of whom i am immensely fond [yes, that's right; they were castle kids] who needed a 'supervisor' from emerson's faculty or staff, because it was held at an off-campus site. since there were three time slots that they needed filled, they were approaching all the credentialed folk they knew. and i, as always, was putty in the hands of a castle dweller.
actually, they were a pleasure to watch. they were all clearly talented, and all hard working. and they included a nice range of dance skills, though it was heavy on the rock-rap modern side. still there were the terrific tap dancers and, in one piece, three ballet dancers, on toe---to me the most beautiful single position the human body can achieve. then, creating variation within variation, there was a routine from a guest company, the newly formed cheerleaders club. i have my political issues with the whole idea of cheerleading, but how could i possibly fault the skill and bravery of these very athletic young women?
it was also fun seeing kids i was used to seeing sporting torn jeans and t- shirts and stumbling through questions about the Odyssey, now fluidly and confidently moving their bodies into and out of positions that made my own flaccid muscles ache at the sight:, it was what we like to call these days a humbling experience. i fear that being a 'supervisor' was the closest i'll ever come, or ever could have come, to that suppleness.
i wondered why they were doing their show so far from the campus, and decided it must be because this 800-seat main stage at Roxbury Community College was such a good theatre for a large dance troup. but when i asked one of the dancers about it later, she said they'd wanted to do it at emerson, but that all the emerson venues had been booked up, even with the three new sites in the old paramount theatre that the college had bought. it seemed a pity; i thought an emerson performance space would attract a bigger audience. but i had no need to worry; they had sold out quickly, and were having to turn down reservations.
still it seemed strange. last night i had been to a performance at the college's largest theatre, in which another educational institution, the new england conservatory of music, put on a delightful 'magic flute.' this is an old arrangement; i've been going to the NECE's major student performance there every year. but i find it peculiar to see another college's performance at an emerson theatre when an emerson group wasn't able to find space at any of the college's performance areas. ah well, i'm in neither marketing nor the performing arts, and their processes are mysterious to me. clearly the somewhat out-of-the-way venue didn't put off dancers or audience members, and there's no question that it's a great theatre for such a performance. and for myself, i got to sit back and enjoy the show---and to get brownie points for my generosity in doing so!
i do hope that emerson knows how good these kids are, and what a credit they are to the college. wherever they perform, these are 'emerson kids,' poster-people for what students can do in the extra-curricular vocations they pursue. what a credit they are to the image of college students! i left feeling honored to have been part of their club for those three hours.