Harvard-Radcliffe Modern Dance Company’s Spring Show.


Dance is meant to move you, body and soul. Some kinds of dance have you itching to jump out of your seat and bust a move no matter who is watching or where you are. That dance is a celebration of life and happiness that can strike it without a moment’s notice if the song is compelling and your heart is open. I have always considered myself prey to this form of movement. Not being a serious dancer myself (my closet mirror might disagree), I imagine that song and words speak to the soul more deeply. But I realize I have overlooked the subtleties that movements of the physical body can intimate.

I saw my mistake while watching The Harvard-Radcliffe Modern Dance Company perform the spring show “Excerpts” put on last Friday and Saturday evenings at Farkas Hall. Composed of ten different performances featuring different styles, choreographers, music and dancers, “Excerpts” featured everything from light-hearted satire and comedy to a heart-wrenching love story. The quality of each dance was exceptional and showcased a broad range of storytelling techniques and messages. All the dances were able to tell their stories with the theme of “words” in mind: one dance was set to a reading of a poem, while another took place while a dancer carried on a phone conversation.  Choreographers had a unique approach to this theme and it was a pleasure to watch them all.

I asked freshman dancer Greta Wong how she felt about the production and its diverse performances—her response gives us some insight into the making of such a complex show. Wong states, “It’s always neat to see how different choreographers are able to create such vastly different pieces under one theme, this semester’s show having the theme of words, some being inspired by a certain text and others including spoken words during performance or in the music. Both pieces I was in were different—different in style, how the choreographers taught, how they were inspired by the texts and how they incorporated the texts. It was fascinating to see how the processes differed, but still resulted in amazing pieces that were so fun perform.” The dancers clearly worked together to make sure the dances flowed smoothly between each other and that each one managed to capture the essence of the theme while still exhibiting each choreographer’s individual style.

Wong continues, “In particular, I remember at the halfway to the point to the show when all the choreographers showed their dances in the stage they were in, then received feedback from the rest of the company. It was the first time we had seen the other dances, and I was so amazed at the creativity each choreographer had inspired their dancers with. It was also cool to hear the other company members give their reactions to and thoughts about the unfinished pieces, giving the choreographers feedback to work off of. I loved seeing all the dances again in their final form and united under the one program during the rehearsals leading up the finished show.”

Harvard is unique among colleges in many ways, and not being a connoisseur of modern dance myself, I wondered if there is any particular aspect of this dance company that stands out.  Wong responds, “I think all dance is special since it is art translated onto a very unique medium—our bodies! Specifically, I like modern because it is much more grounded and allows for people’s individuality to really come out. HRMDC is so great because it takes people with such varying backgrounds, creating a unique atmosphere that I always look forward to being a part of. Everyone has their own crazy stuff going on, and dance can be a way to mediate other aspects of life.” That is for sure! As a member of the audience that night, I received a little piece of each choreographers and dancer’s heart and soul that they translated through dance and words. Being a part of such communication was an experience to remember, and I look forward to future productions by the Harvard-Radcliffe Modern Dance Company.

Caroline C. Cronin ’18 (ccronin01@college.harvard.edu) will from now on be found communicating solely through interpretive dance.