Art, Arts & Entertainment, Music

From the Viewpoint: Mosaica taught me how to love dance

I’m going to be honest—I know next to nothing about dance. It was therefore with some measure of anxiety that I attended the Mosaica Dance Company’s annual spring showcase. Of course the show would be good, of that I had very little doubt. The problem was instead how to write about something of which I know so little, how to do justice to something which I might appreciate without necessarily understanding.

To give a little background: The Mosaica Dance Company held its annual spring showcase from March 23-24. The event, evocatively titled and themed “ROUGE,” was the 34th such production in the company’s history. Mosaica is a student run dance company founded in 1984 at McGill. With a special focus on equity and inclusivity, each movement of the night was choreographed by the company’s coordinators and dancers.

All of this was in an attempt to celebrate what makes the company special among similar collectives, namely the diversity of its members and the styles of dance it incorporates.

The night’s first segment was “Fell From Your Heart.” Set to the song “Cosmic Love” by Florence and the Machine and performed by the whole company, it marked a triumphant opening to the event. As the song progressed, my initial anxieties as an audience member who knows very little about dance were quickly replaced with envy. I am someone whose dance repertoire basically consists of the first three moves from “The Evolution of Dance” and a pseudo-ironic dab thrown in for good measure. It seemed inconceivable that, not only could one person dance like this, but a whole company. As the song gained momentum, so too did the dance itself, with increasingly acrobatic maneuvers and bombastic running, jumping, and tumbling. After what felt like a miniature version of an Olympic Opening Ceremony, the lights dimmed and the cast was introduced in a video presentation.

The next movement was a fiery segment called “Tenacity,” a name well earned. There was a close focus paid to colour throughout the show, with background lighting and the dancers’ outfits changing to mirror the mood and tempo of the songs. Tenacity was all red—with fast, explosive movements. Set to “Riot Rhythm” by Sleigh Bells, the music heightened this explosive and dynamic effect.

A personal highlight of the night was the Kill-Bill-esque “Cell Block Tango” from the musical “Chicago”—another performance highlighted by its red lighting and outfits. The choreography incorporated exaggerated scenes of comic and bloody retribution by outlaw women against their dastardly spouses. The number was executed perfectly. In most movies, the line between fighting and dance is blurred to create more dramatic and visually exciting, choreographed scenes. Here, Mosaica used the same effect in the opposite capacity. Rather than making a fight seem more dance-like, “Cell Block Tango” instead injected its dancing and choreography with a healthy dose of kung-fu movie violence. It was a thrilling performance, with dancers springboarding over each other, using the bodies of their fellow performers as platforms from which sequences of pantomimed fighting and revenge were launched. Throughout the show, audience members directed a near constant stream of applause at individual dancers or the sequence as a whole.

It hit me about halfway through the show that most of the audience probably knew as little about dance as I did. Despite our uninitiated perspective, the dynamism and energy of the show translated to all of us, with the audience’s warm response serving as an affirmation of the program’s commitment to entertain and impress.  

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