If all’s fair in love and war, then all’s fair in reviewing love and wOrchesis.
Unsurprisingly for the pastiche of performances that “All’s Fair in Love and wOrchesis” offers, the production contains both high points and decidedly middling moments.
Sadly, the opening dance is probably the most meh-inducing. Set to Sinatra’s “The Best is Yet to Come,” the choreography is, at best, one predictable, passably executed swing flourish after another.
However, that number is followed up by one of the best pieces of the showcase–a modern dance interpretation of “This Woman’s Work.” As a group, the dancers swell and ebb in unison like a pair of lungs, while soloists manage to add their own subtexts without falling out of step. Dynamic without an overstatement of physicality, the dance manages to be slow yet not a yawn and emotional but not cheesy.
Many of the other highlights hail from the opposite end of the spectrum—of all the genres represented, some of the best performances can be summed up with one word: attitude. With the overt sass of Beyoncé’s “Countdown” and the Cataracs’ “Bass Down Low,” the dancers project glamour and ferocity, never losing a sharpness of movement that’s crucial to their edge. Similar red-hot assertiveness fills the piece by Laura Quintela, CC ’14, set to Christina Aguilera’s “Fighter.” Throughout the trio, explosive yet controlled solos inspire dropped jaws.
More stoically, Victoria Robson’s choreography of Beirut’s Eastern-influenced “Gulag Orkestar” meets the challenge of the song’s grandiose overtones. The dancers command a slow, deliberate elegance of line and form that makes the lower-energy piece not just palatable but delectable.
Still, sprinklings of thoroughly masticated singer-songwriter fare detract from the show and evoke the sort of sappy song that overly demonstrative couples put on each other’s Facebook walls or post as statuses after a breakup. This bland, unoffensive genre belongs neither on those virtual walls nor on the stage. It is these saccharine ditties that most frequently give birth to routines that seem both boring and contrived. Plié, plié, look out at the audience mournfully—mournfully being a code word for a slightly puckered mouth amid a dance that seems bereft of true feeling.
Interspersed randomly in the repertoire are small, whimsical interludes. Best is probably “Love is a Battlefield,” which any production called “Love and wOrchesis” would probably be incomplete without—just as the song would be incomplete without the bright aerobic wear of the dancers and their decidedly Jazzercise-tastic moves.
Ensemble-wise, renditions of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” and Devotchka’s “And the Winner Is ...” lean most heavily on the cohesion of the dancers, who carry it off with aplomb. The latter’s small, plucky notes require a precision of movement that takes flight with the dancers almost hovering over the stage.
Moments like those make the show worth watching. While some numbers ring hollow, the mixed-bag nature of the show ensures that there will be something for people of all tastes to enjoy. Conclusion? Some winners, some losers, but such is the nature of war.
[Update: Orchesis performances will take place in Roone Arledge Auditorium on Thursday at 9 p.m.and Saturday at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the TIC in Lerner Hall or online, costing $7 with CUID and $12 for non-CUID.]