Global Motion: a cultural feast for the eyes

On opening night of the SMC dance show Global Motion, an event meant to promote global awareness and the learning of other cultures, I witnessed some great dances that touched my heart, and some that felt more like tutorials than actual performances.

The opening dance, which originated in France, told an unspoken story of a Spanish prince dreaming about meeting Welsh princesses to marry in order to unify Spain and Wales. The dance was all ballet, and the use of lighting was instrumental in helping to bring about a proper ambience. Though I did find the “all just a dream” aspect of the Ballet piece to be a tad cliched.

There was a dance from the Dominican Republic called the Bachata that felt completely unified and complete. The music melted into the piece, not overtaking the dance nor distracting from it. There were no wasted movements — it was all fluid. It was no longer a dance, it was pure, cohesive self-expression. If dance can be described as art, this is it. It was a complete mastery of the body.

The final dance of the night also provided a standout performance. The West African dance did something I had never seen from a dance number before. It told a story with words and music. It started off with high octane drums, but after a few minutes, we heard sobbing, so the drums had to quiet. The queen had died and her daughter was sobbing. The people expected her to rise up and take the position of queen. She sobbed and said she was not ready. She renounced the responsibility and ran away. Falling asleep, she dreamt that her trusted advisor took the position. Displeased by the dream, she vowed to be the queen her people needed. Her trusted advisor came and knelt before her, a gesture of fealty. They threw a party and danced with high energy. She was queen and would serve her people. The drums accompanying the dance story were always fitting for the scene at hand. In sad scenes, the drums were soft. In celebratory dances, the drums became louder and had a pleasant frenetic sound.

The event both started and ended on a good note. These, along with a few other numbers, were worth the price of admission, but there were also flaws.

In the second dance, the Cuban Mambo, a technical element distracted from the performance. There was a disco ball that kept blinding the audience every fifth second. Where this should have been an experience where I learned this culture’s dance, all I learned was that I don’t like lights flashing in my eyes.

The Hawaiian dance felt more like a walkthrough than a performance. Hit the stick on the left, hit the stick on the right, swing around a bit and hit the sticks a couple more times. It was entertaining enough, and the aesthetic was pleasing to the eye, but it was missing fluidity. The dance was too rooted in position.

As for the rest of the dances, none of them displayed flaws that I could notice. They were enjoyable for what they were, windows into other cultures. If the aim was cultural diversity and awareness, these dances succeeded. If their aim was to entertain, that was also a success.