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Surreal show awakens senses

From the classics of Beethoven to the nostalgia of 50s bop music, The Mills College Repertory Dance Company celebrated its 20 anniversary season with diverse performances from notable choreographers.

The Haas Pavilion held this year’s concert series for three nights and highlighted choreographers Paul Taylor, Anne Westwick, Kim Epifano, Lesley Braithwaite, Kathleen McClintock, and Mary Cochran.

“Perfiction” choreographed by Lesley Braithwaite was the performance that captured my complete attention, it was so amazing that I didn’t want it to end. Utilizing text from the Kama Sutra and music from the Nina Hagen Band, Braithwaite’s solo performance was captivating with her satirical expos‚ on women’s roles in society. Braithwaite’s costume was a combination of stewardess meets German soldier of the 40s, and her choreography detail and creativity turned the performance into a narrative. Braithwaite was the only student at Mills to choreograph and perform her piece at this event.

For legendary choreographer Paul Taylor’s piece “Aureole,” the dancers were costumed in all white, and performed to music of G.F. Handel. Like swans they seemed to leap from back stage, arms spread wide as they pranced across the stage. At moments, I didn’t know whether to be in awe or to laugh. The dancers had overzealous smiles which gave the performance a surreal effect.

The final piece was Kathleen McClintock’s “Another Era on Another Planet;” a great end to the night’s performances. McClintock brings you into her world with outrageous costume design and nostalgic references from sound designer Michael Trigilio. Trigilio sampled songs like Blue Moon and Mr. Sandman to develop the dreamlike fervor you experience as the performance developed.

To convey the other world aesthetic, McClintock used dancers dressed in paint worker apparel holding wheel barrels to carry off various other dancers. In another moment, women dressed like working gentlemen of the 50s ran back and forth across the stage with briefcases in hand.

The performances were full of fun, laughter and beauty. Overall, I felt the night was a complete success and that the dancers along with the choreographers did a good job producing a show which had a lot of novelty in each piece.

Dancer, Kristen Studer said, “It was great. It was a very diverse show, we have great dancers here and they all did a wonderful job.”