Visually Stunning, 'Locus' is unmissable for any dance lover, or human in general
As a MADSOC Major Alum myself, I walked through St. Peters barely containing my excitement for the sneak preview of Locus. With a cast exceeding 80 talented students, I was very aware of how these productions work, usually coming together in the few days prior to the show’s debut night and a complete shambles until that moment. Studio runs were almost always messy and stop-start, with everyone fighting exhaustion and trying to remember where they are supposed to stand in each section.
When I entered the studio, at least one of my suspicions was confirmed. While on their lunch break, it seemed every one of the 83 cast members was half asleep; curled up on couches, lying on top of each other, or cocooned in a blanket on the floor. Looking around, I thought fondly of my own memories of searching for anyone who would let me fall asleep on them.
During the group warm up, the producer, Gaby Boulos took to my side to explain how many of the dancers were injured, the tappers can’t hear the music during their number, and no one will be in costume. Nodding wisely, I thought I know how this goes, and sat down expecting to watch incredible dancers shuffle their way around a show that was yet to be polished, or fully ready for the stage.
I could not have been more wrong. The opening number ‘Tranference’, by the Artistic Director, Bec Clare, herself, set the tone of the entire show. In this clean and polished contemporary number, the dancers had emotion pouring out of every extremity, elevating MADSOC’s usual performance skills tenfold. The choreographer’s this year have taken more risks than ever before, both in regards to the actual choreography for each number, as well as the emotion required to pull them off. A particularly stunning and daring number choreographed by Evelyn Chew, ‘Passages’, featured dancers carrying out difficult lifts and stunts blindfolded. Yes, blindfolded.
Prior to watching the show, I was hesitant over what is always a massive hurdle for any dance show - portraying a continuous story. In previous years this has usually meant that every dance has to weave in a particular character to give the show coherence, so this year upon hearing that the show would be tied together thematically, I had my doubts. I assumed that the storyline would make little sense, or be difficult to understand, but again, I was gladly proven wrong. Locusexplores “our individual circumstances, contrasted with how we want others to perceive us…to uncover and celebrate the personal growth that lies beneath these masks”. Simply put, it’s a show dedicated to the exploration of humanity, and at times it’s almost overwhelming how well this is achieved.
‘In This Shirt’, a piece choreographed by Tiarne Gilligan, is “dedicated to all that have suffered from a mental illness”. Between flawlessly executed choreography with gorgeous lines, and sharp, effective canons, every movement was filled with emotion. Yet, the most powerful moment is undoubtedly when Holly Nelson, the featured dancer in the piece, broke out of her role as a silent dancer and screamed into the audience, pleading for help. At the end of the number, the other cast members in the studio burst into an applause which outshone the polite clapping every other dance received by far. All the while I was clutching onto my chair with bated breath, barely able to keep up with the power of what was still only a premature run of the show.
Yet, the show wasn’t just a heavy exploration of dark times of struggle, and with the music perfectly curated to each number - seriously, I need the Spotify playlist ASAP - the show took me from these challenging lows to numbers such as ‘A Little Step to Happiness’. This hip-hop piece was so 90s and so fab, I wanted to learn it just to break it out at an R&B throwback night.
From gorgeous sequences of petit allegro in the ballet numbers to the coolest hip-hop tricks, there is something for everyone in this production. If you’ve ever thought about, or taken a dance class, or even watched an episode of So You Think You Can Dance, I implore you to buy a ticket to this production because it is really not one to be missed.
MADSOC’s 2016 major production Locus is playing at the Seymour Centre on the 12th and 13th of August. Tickets are available via Seymour Centre’s website.