FREDONIA - The Fredonia Dance Ensemble is presenting a diverse and energetic evening, this weekend.
The ensemble involves students in all classes at the State University of New York at Fredonia, and the evening involved dancers of greatly differing physical forms, music ranging from the Baroque to the spoken word, and especially interesting costuming and lighting, which matched perfectly to the movement and structure of the dances.
Some of the dances were abstract. ''And when I turned around (I was gone,)'' for example, by choreographer Tressa Gorman Crehan, was danced by nine women. Both halves of the dance utilized graceful and very emotional piano works by Chopin.
In the first half of the dance, the lighting was very low. From the waist up, the women were in a light colored leotard, and below the waist, they were in floor-length black skirts. Bulbs hanging above the dancers' heads would illumine for a few moments, then fade, while a different bulb - or possible two or three bulbs - would begin to glow.
The result was that the black skirts blended with the black background, giving a disembodied effect. One could get a sense of the movement in the unlighted sections of the stage, but it was a ghostly, ethereal effect.
In the second half, the lights came up bright, and we could see that the women's skirts were see-through, and the leotards went all the way to their ankles. The result was powerful, energetic movement, which contrasted beautifully to the earlier motion.
By contrast, choreographer Sam Kenney offered ''First Dance,'' which invites the audience to journey through the emotions of a young bride, surrounding her wedding. The music was a progression, from a ''Te Deum in D Major,'' with no composer named, up through a comic song about having to buy and wear unappealing dresses in order to be a bridesmaid, and finally ending with a bluesy jazz work by Queen Latifah, danced by the bride and groom in front of a romantic blue background with swirling lights from a mirrored ball in the ceiling.
In all, there were seven dances, in a wide variety of styles, lasting about 90 minutes. All were performed to recorded music, but the sound quality was outstanding, compared to so many dance performances I've attended over the years.
The choreographers whose work was represented, in addition to the two already named, were Jill Pribyl, assisted by Grace Flavia Ibanda, Helen Meyers, Paul W. Mockovak, and Angelika Summerton. Lighting designers were Sam Sayers, Christopher Swinn, Jen Carlson, Marcus Berdeguez, and Drew Lockwood.
Because the dancers in each piece were named, but there usually were no specific roles - so that one could be distinguished from another - we'll just name them all and throw bouquets at each of them: Adam Ali, Matt Antar, Nicholas Bernard, Harley Branning, Stephanie Byron, Joseph Corallo, Abigail Donegan, Theresa Egloff, Hope Feldman, and Daniel Gerrish.
Also, Christina Giannitsis, Elizabeth Goretti, Joshua Johnson, Amanda Kellner, Noelle Lazor, Mackenzie Lynch, Marlie Meno, Sarah Peace, Katie O'Keefe. and Antonio Regulier.
Finally, Steve Russell, Amanda Sahr, Jennifer Sharlette, Courtney Stewart, Kathryn Straub, Abigail Sullivan, Sydney Thomas, Christopher Wiacek, and Shane Zimmerman.
The production will be repeated, tonight and tomorrow in the Marvel Theater, on the campus of the University at Fredonia.