Dance Review: USF 2009 Fall Dance Concert

dance in the show. Sandra Robinson choreographed this classical ballet with a tango flavor using pointe work with a high degree of difficulty. The dancers are all well-grounded in technique with exceptional arches and extensions. The lead female dancer (the program didn't specify names) has a beautiful extension with her leg nearly going up to her ear on battements and executed all moves flawlessly. She and her partner performed some difficult lifts with ease. There were several solo dancers that excelled, also. The quality of this dance really blew me away.

"To the Hills," choreographed by Else Valbuena, is a modern dance interpretation of a man who visited a mountaintop in Columbia and saw all of life as tiny flames. Two women begin with a solo and then are joined by others. Dancers appear to be acting as flowing water, and use audible breaths to augment and emphasize the movements. Also, fog was used during strategic points, perhaps to emphasize the view from the mountaintop, which added to the mood of the dance. In all, it was a well-executed piece of inspired modern choreography.

"Lindy Hop," choreographed by John Parks, is a very fun and lively piece with 1940's music, varied costumes like nurses, sailors and a female factory worker (a la Rosie the Riveter).  It’s great to see something a little different in a dance show. This high-energy number put a modern spin on the Lindy with various groups and partners of dancers performing different movements including lifts, partner and solo work.

An artfully done ballet point number -- "Poèm," choreographed by Sandra Robinson -- uses balloons as props to accent intricate pointe work. For example, the dancers would wrap the balloon string around one ankle, then do a turn to unravel themselves. While dramatic, the use of props can be dicey. Even so, the dancers handled this flawlessly and it added quite a bit to the novel and airy-feeling of the dance. "Poèm" also includes some nice lifts.

True to its name, "Flamenco Fusion," choreographed by Jeanne Travers, begins by employing traditional flamenco character movements with heel stamping and simulated castanets hand-work. The dance then slowly adopts a Middle Eastern flavor but maintains  a modern dance influence throughout.

Chorographer Paula Nuñez inventively used chairs as props in "El Diario." Though this ballet pointe number was less technically difficult than many of the other dances, it introduced complexity in that the movements are, to a large part, done in unison. It requires that the corps stay together, which they do beautifully.

"Come Here to Me " is an unusual piece choreographed by Michael Foley that examines interpersonal relations from a reflective point of view. It was inspired by Foley finding a box of photos that contained a world of relatives of which he was previously unaware. In every photo, someone had an arm around someone else. The choreography demonstrates a push-pull between different groups. The dance contains some inventive lifts, including females lifting male dancers and group lifts. At one point, one of the male dancers lands in a pile of female dancers and flips outward to land gracefully.

I would highly recommend this entertaining show.  It is a good way to see a sampling of the incredible talent in the USF dance department -- the teachers, choreographers, and students.  This kind of dance requires many years of study, and in the case of difficult pointe work, the dancers have probably been studying ballet their entire lives.  This kind of dance takes a great deal of commitment, perseverance and artistry. Even if you are not typically a dance fan, seeing this show will broaden your horizons, and it’s well worth the price of admission.

USF Fall Dance Concert, Nov. 5-7, 8 p.m. Thurs.-Sat., USF College of Visual & Performing Arts Theatre I, 4202 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa, $12, $8 students and seniors in advance; $15, $10 students and seniors day of the show,

To read more writing by Sally Bosco, visit

The USF Fall Dance Concert lives up to its billing as a "vibrant mélange of ballet, modern, swing and flamenco-fusion."

Not having seen one of the USF dance concerts for many years, I was very pleasantly surprised at the exceptional quality of dance, choreography, music and costuming. The execution of the dances demonstrated a high degree of quality and professionalism, particularly in the pointe work. This show makes it very obvious that USF School of Theater and Dance has attracted some esteemed faculty and visiting choreographers with impressive credentials.

The seven varied dances, none overly long, provided a perfect amount of entertainment. When so often dance shows are composed of one modern piece after another that all tend to look alike, it was great to see a dance concert that had enough variety to be truly entertaining. Also, it was gratifying to see a number of talented male dancers. From the vantage point of dead-center front row, we could see all of the footwork at close range.

The opening number, "Noches Argentinas," for my taste, is the best

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