By: Nina Campli, Assistant Editor of Student Life and Arts
Every semester, the Department of Theater and Dance and the Drew University Dramatic Society (DUDS) put on a dance show, and this semester’s was by far one of the best. Directed by Professor Kimani Fowlin, the show is titled Once Around the Block and focuses on the embodied stories of Ezra Jack Keats. Keats was the author and illustrator of many children’s books. In almost all his books, he depicts minorities breaking stereotypes. In addition to writing his own books, he has also illustrated over eighty books written by other authors.
Each piece focused on a different book written and illustrated by Keats. One that stood out was Urban Sounds of a Concrete Jungle choreographed by Chloe Martins (‘18), which was based on the book Apartment Three. Dancers Alcides Costa (’19), Emily Bogartz-Brown (‘20) and Noelle Oh (’18) did a fantastic job. Each of them had a small solo while the other two dancers waited in the audience space. Their steps were done with grace and finesse. At one point, each of them had a leap that was in a way the climax of their solo, and they nailed it with the perfection that only comes with dedication and hard work. When asked what she had learned from the process of choreographing a piece, Martins said, “This is my fifth time choreographing, and I am still learning about the movement I create as an individual and as a dancer.”
The costumes for Martins’ piece were also well done. Designed by Hailey Benson (’19), each costume for the piece was slightly different, but still shared an aesthetic. Most of the costume was black but in some spots the fabric used looked like newspaper. Única y Nevada, choreographed by Grace Castillo (’19), also had great costumes, which were designed by Baylee Winters (’21). Dancer Emily Dzioba (’18) looked as though she could have been on Dancing with the Stars in her light gray-blue top, white skirt and bun. Karol Ann Aguila (’20) in her orange shirt and black overalls was in complete contrast with Dzioba and Logan Fish, who was in similar colors as Dzioba (’19). Nonetheless, the three costumes seemed to fit together well.
Throughout the show, the lighting was well-suited to each piece, although there were a few standouts. In the first act, Lindsey Strouse’s piece Time Lapse with the light design by Nathan Keiller was particularly intriguing with the red motif. In the second act, Logan Fish’s Lover was designed by Adam Valle and set up the ambiance perfectly for the piece.
To eliminate dead time between pieces, they had Jillian Canal (‘19) performing songs. She did an absolutely lovely job, and her choice of songs suited her voice well. Chris White III accompanied Canal on percussion during one song and performed another solo with little bowl-shaped instruments. In addition, White also portrayed the Red Hooded Man, who seemed to represent Keats looking upon and interacting with his characters.
Tickets to the Fall Dance Show can be purchased at the Kean Box Office Theater. Tickets are $5 with student ID.