Mˆlée reinvents movement and expression

Laura Streyle

This Saturday evening, Lawrence’s student dance troupe “Reinvented” the energy of Stansbury Theatre and dazzled a full house of spectators during its 2009 spring performance.
Mˆlée displayed the beauty that can come of unreserved creative collaboration, of artistic chaos. Blending emotions of heartbreak, rejuvenation and nostalgia through the dancers’ pirouetting, hip-hopping and tap dancing, a thoroughly enjoyable evening came to life.
The program was a pleasing collage of student-choreographed routines that the dancers were given late winter term, along with guest appearances from Cabaret and Lawrence Swing Dance club.
Previous to the choreographing, Mˆlée dancers attended technique classes that gave choreographers an idea of the skill level and dancing experience they had to work with. Apparently, the dancers displayed an impressive level of ability, as the program was filled with many difficult tricks and plenty of attitude.
When the lights came up to reveal a group of eerie doll-like masks floating on the shoulders of a group of dancers, the homogeneity of the facial expressions was immediately unsettling. To the hypnotizing beat and subtly disturbing lyrics of M.I.A.’s “20 Dollar,” the dancers portrayed a dystopian world where laughter was choreographed and movement was controlled by external, mechanized forces.
Needless to say, it was a relief when these dancers reappeared on stage for later dances with their familiarly animate expressions. When a group of sassy women taught sophomore Kyle Brauer that they can turn a lady’s man into a man who ladies will not have through the entertaining dance sequence choreographed to “Heartbreaker,” the back and forth play of flirtatiousness and rejection was playfully obvious. And if you have not seen Brauer’s explosive straddle jumps, you are missing out.
Speaking of jumps, two toe-tapping couples representing Lawrence Swing Dance showed the audience that there is more to the saying than “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing” – apparently, you also need spring.
After swinging the gals through their legs and spinning them around their bodies, the two suspendered guys leapfrogged over the upright gals. Their routine was packed with rhythm, light steps and that swing.
In another number, dancers clicked onto a dark stage with flashlights in hand. When the music started, the dancers used their flashlights to create individual spotlights for their tapping feet. The visual effect was sharp and impressive.
Mˆlée is led by board presidents Franny Steiner, Beka Vite, Krissy Rhyme and Jamie Gajewski. These students choreograph, teach, organize and dance. They also brought in President Jill Beck to give a master class to the troupe.
When asked how she felt about the performance, Steiner enthusiastically responded, “I felt this was our strongest show by far.”
Gajewski agreed that Mˆlée has “grown significantly in the last few years.” She also said the show was strong because it “had quite a bit of variety.”
With a standing ovation from the crowd, Mˆlée should be proud, and the group is probably already scheming for new ways to reinvent movement for next year’s program.