Lab Coats & Tutus: Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre puts on performance

Ballerina’s dressed as swans, lab coat-clad jazz dancers and contemporary blue sweatpants donned the stage in Morgan Hall last week for the Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre (ARDT) performance.

By Jennifer Leto
Features Reporter 

Ballerina’s dressed as swans, lab coat-clad jazz dancers and contemporary blue sweatpants donned the stage in Morgan Hall last week for the Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre (ARDT) performance.

The stage was set up with a plain white background, versatile to all the different styles and themes of dance that were performed at the show. The simple backdrop served as a blank canvas where the audience could anticipate the next act.

The show had seven different dance numbers, which all varied in style.

The opening number was from Act 2 of “Swan Lake.” At least a dozen student ballerinas leaped across the stage in their long white tutus. The picture of a wintry forest was projected onto the background.

“’Swan Lake’ is a traditional romantic ballet with a lead couple, corps de ballet members, and soloists,” said Rani Vance, a junior dance major at the university.

The second number was titled “1960 What? Who?” This was a contemporary jazz piece that highlighted the social issues that plagued the 1960s. This piece was an all-black female piece, which showed their fight for equality during the 1960s.

Many audience members were left speechless during the intermission that followed this performance due to the relevant social issues brought up during the dance.

“The second dance brought a tear to my eye,” said audience member Anna Vice. Vice is a recent graduate from the university who attended with her friend Savannah Chandler. This was their third performance of the week.

After the intermission, there was a contemporary ballet number called “The Lab.” The unexpected idea that the dancers were in a chemistry lab provided interesting contrast to the ballet performed in “Swan Lake.” Watching white lab coats twirl on stage and have the dancers pretend they are holding beakers was appealing to those who may not be interested in the traditional ballet style.

Following this number was the dance “Hard To Pin Down.” During this number, dancers dressed in colorful jeans and t-shirts and pranced across the stage in a contemporary jazz style. They executed back-bends and worked together to suspend themselves in unexpected dips and twists.

Then there was a solo by Collin Daffin. He wore a gold body suit and portrayed the bronze idol from “La Bayadère” (The Temple Dancer). In this number, Daffin dances a “bravura solo,” which is taking place in a Hindu temple.

“To Whom It May Concern” was the next number. This dance featured dancers who wore blue and grey sweat suits. This number was created to highlight suicide, depression and how students respond to those around them who are in emotional need.

The music was a jarring beeping sound, which included dialogue by the students about depression and struggling to deal with emotions. The playbill for the show includes the phone number and email for the University of Alabama Counseling Center.

The last number brought energy to the audience. “Second Exposure” was a wild number in which the students dressed in shades of brown and green and performed in an athletic contemporary jazz style. The show ended with a standing ovation from the audience.

“I would tell people to come and see it. Come without distractions; actually turn your phone off. That’s a big deal,” Vice said.

Vice and Chandler have been making an effort to go to cultural events around campus in the past weeks. They recommend attending the dance performances because there is something for everyone.

“The reason I like this show so much is because it has so many different types of dance in it. You get to experience all these different things,” Chandler said.

“If you don’t like one, you’re probably going to like another. There’s something to like in each one. If you don’t like it, you’re only seeing a little bit of each one,” Vice said.

The students started preparing for the production last semester in October. The dancers involved in the dance program at the university have all different backgrounds and interests.

Rani Vance has been involved in the program since her freshman year.

“I grew up in a ballet school, so having strong technique has helped me to be able to carry out these ballets. Additionally, coaching from my ballet instructors has challenged me to push myself artistically,” Vance said.

Vance was in the “Swan Lake” performance and “To Whom It May Concern.” She said her favorite number was the “Swan Lake” piece.

“’Swan Lake’ is one of my favorite ballets, so I was really excited to actually be performing in it,” Vance said.

Vance appreciates all the different styles of dance that are performed in this show. She feels they add a nice variety and captures all different kinds of audiences.

“This semester’s ARDT was very versatile. There was ballet, modern, contemporary ballet, athletic jazz. The diversity is what makes it such a great show; there’s something for everyone,” Vance said.

The dance program will be holding another performance later on in the semester called Dance Alabama. This will be their spring performance and will be held from March 28-April 1 in Morgan Hall.

For event or ticket information visit here or call 205-348-3400.