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The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

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April 15, 2024
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A study in catharsis

Winter Term’s Terp review
Claire+Dietz+performing+at+Burn+The+Floor
Ford Walters
Claire Dietz performing at Burn The Floor

On the edge of my seat I sat bewitched, absolutely transfixed, unable to take my eyes off for even a second from the dancers. My breath was caught in my throat half the time, unable to even cheer. Was the blink of my eyes an unforgivable darkness or were they shutters of a camera, every moment open attempting to record and memorize each detail and movement?

This past weekend I attended Burn The Floor – this term’s Terpsichore Dance Collective (Terp), and spent a little over an hour in this state of unending emotion.

I can say without a doubt that this year’s Terp performance was the best I have ever seen. I’ve been going to Terp performances since I arrived at Knox—they’re always a delight, something that reminds me very fondly of my time at my arts-intensive high school. There’s nothing quite like sitting down for a while and watching a group of people who know what they’re doing, who’ve worked for months, dance their absolute hearts out on stage.

From the wide breadth of fantastic choices in music, to the stunning light design, excellent costume picks, and of course the main attraction – the dances themselves – this term’s performance was phenomenal.

Aicha Chehmani performing at Burn The Floor

It’s hard to pick any one piece, or even a few, to spotlight in particular for this review. In choosing only some, I ignore others that deserve that recognition just as much. All of it was overwhelmingly beautiful. Instead of describing any one piece in its entirety, I’ve got a selection of moments instead, that particularly spoke to me from each.

I can imagine Terp opening no other way this year than with When a Good Thing Ends, choreographed by senior Aicha Chehmani to Talk It Up by Sammy & The Friends. Right from the jump the song is an amazing choice – launching you right into the emotional headspace of something you love dearly but have to let go of. The piece was a fluid blur of rejoicing and celebration in dance form, with beautifully inspired early 1930s dance elements within. Watching everyone spin around stage as they lifted each other up and over each other, as the song crescendoed made my heart ache.

Boys comes in like a all consuming tidal wave, crashing in and swallowing your attention whole. The contrast of the techno-rave backing track Other Boys by Dove Cameron & Marshmello, mixed with Boyfriend, also by Dove Cameron, alongside intimate and theatrical slow dancing made me grin and cheer raucously. The story was so clear, I knew it far before even reading the pamphlet (which I had failed to grab upon entry.) Choreographer junior Hannah Terry got across the message perfectly, as they put it: “girl likes boy, girl likes girl, and boy cares nothing about girl.” As my friend put it, whispering in my ear during pieces, “why can’t that be me slow dancing with a girl right now.”

Voice Memo No. 5 (Ford Walters)

 

Voice Memo No. 5 had arguably, some of the most stunning lighting work of the whole night. I especially enjoyed how sharp all the movements were, but most impressively, the synchronicity between dancers as a group and the music.

Strong Enough by sophomore Madelyn Pellegrino had my bid from the moment I started to hear Cher sing. Seeing her music be used for such a beautiful piece was a delight. Amazing feats of strength like catching dancers and quick drops and jumps made the whole stage sparkle with life. What stole the show however was the tap-dance performance midway through the piece. I was so stunned I literally held my breath and leaned forward in my seat, as if every inch I moved closer would allow me to somehow take in a fuller experience.

Strong Enough (Ford Walters)

How can I even begin to talk about Bittersweet, the absolutely heart-wrenching duet by Chehmani & senior Claire Dietz. Having seen several of their duets before, I knew from the moment the lights went on and I saw them on stage that I was going to cry. I was proven right, having a few tears drop. There is a level of intensity in their connection that makes it clear at every moment exactly just how much they feel while performing, that even sitting 20 rows up in the far back corner, I could feel it tremble my very bones. I will not be able to forget a single moment of this duet – it is hard to pick even one. But I will say that the ending was taken to another level with the lighting design, where the two are across the stage and turn toward another, their silhouettes are cast on the walls behind the other.

Claire Dietz & Aicha Chehmani in Bittersweet (Ford Walters)
Claire Dietz & Aicha Chehmani in Bittersweet

Coming from the emotional high of Bittersweet and into the graceful Femme Fatale by senior Chanice Dudely was a much needed respite. Like a breath of fresh air only for it to be stolen away by the sheer power radiating from the stage. Each of the dancers moved like a coiled snake in their heels (dancing in heels!), with most memorably when the third song in their mix Angels in Tibet by Amaarae starts, and all the dancers create three lines on stage and alongside the rapid snare hits from the song quickly change pose and create a beautiful image of grace and ethereal beauty. It’s an impressive piece of timing and attention to detail.

Level: ZERO is a thrill to view, with an excellent song choice PARANOIA by HEARTSTEEL, League of Legends & BAEKHYUN, ft. tobi lou, OZI (Stefan Chen), & Cal Scruby. An energizing and exciting piece, this duet by juniors Nicole Ruby & Tisya Goel has an extremely memorable ending that made me grin fondly with memories of theatrics found in early 2010s pop punk music videos, as the two collapse backward onto the stage following the sounds of gunshots.

Tisya Goel in Level: ZERO (Ford Walters)

 

Clearly, this year’s Terp had the goal of making me bawl like a baby, as senior Hannah Harvey’s piece, I know, absolutely sucker punches you in the gut with an emotion I cannot attribute. Watching, as Harvey describes it, the story of a transformation unfold in front of my eyes, each movement and push and pull of the dancers against each other tugged at something I didn’t know sat in my heart until they put it into motion in front of my eyes. Again, it’s hard to say any one thing is better above all – but when I close my eyes, I see clearly in front of me each dancer lined up on stage, slowly unfurling in a wave.

“I know” by Hannah Harvey (Ford Walters)

Again, we bounce from this melancholic hard-earned happiness to unbridled joy with 777, by senior Amira Siddique. This piece was an absolute hoot to watch, from the baseball theme, to the dramatic team comedy dynamics, and the perfect blend of excellent costuming choice and theatrical dance – I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face. Perhaps my mind is on Disney channel movies from classwork, but I couldn’t not see the similarities between this and I Don’t Dance from High School Musical 2. Homoerotic tension and all. Visually, my favorite moment in this was when both teams huddle up together in two separate circles, lit with their respective team colors by spotlight.

777 by Amira Siddique (Ford Walters)
777 (Ford Walters)

Idyll by sophomores Naysha Jain and Aisha Spear was yet another delightful treat. As they put, “The Taylor Swift phenomenon and the mass Bollywood culture mixed together creates a storm of emotion and adrenaline.” I am always a fan of swing dance, call me retro. What made this even more entertaining was how clearly everyone on stage was having an absolute blast with the piece.

Idyll by sophomores Naysha Jain and Aisha Spear

Watching Heartlines felt like standing in the middle of a thunderstorm, buckets of rain pouring down on all sides. An unending amount of emotion and sadness, but at the same time, an ultimately satisfactory series of events. This piece was beautiful, with a perfectly selected Abstract (Psychopomp) by Hozier to play in time with the performance. Arranged by senior Cadence Eischens, a moment that has stuck with me is arguably small, but no less impactful. Each of the 3 pairs one after the other lift up their partner along to a swell of the music near the end. It spoke volumes, and not a word was said.

Heartlines

Sophomore Ethan Tozer’s Shooting Star, was another joy to watch. Tozer is newer to Terp, but has an excellent understanding of group compositions that are exciting to watch and inspire the own desire to move and dance in your own seat. Another composition by Tozer that knocked it straight out of the park.

Tozer’s Shooting Star
The Senior Piece (Ford Walters)
The Senior Piece (Ford Walters)

I do not like saying any one piece of this was better than the others, but this year’s Senior Piece, by Chehmani, Eischens, and senior Jaaliyah Richardson, did make me cry. Granted, part of that was the knowledge of many of the people on that stage, good friends of mine, were graduating. Regardless of that, this piece evoked many of the same feelings – the melancholy of saying goodbye to something you love with your whole heart – from earlier pieces. An excellent end to an amazing showcase.

Terp is always an exciting part of year for me. I had gone into Harbach this term ready to watch a good show, and walked out with more than I bargained for. Full of emotion, ready to laugh and cry at the same time, this showcase pulled out emotions I wasn’t aware I was feeling. Cathartic in every sense of the word, at every level.

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Red Engel
Red Engel, Graphics Editor
Sasse/Red Engel '25, (he/they) is an Art History major with a Chemistry minor. They joined TKS in 2021 as the graphics editor and have continued in that position since. He is in charge of social media and the creation of the magazines. He is from Chicago, Illinois, and their current goal in life is to work one day at DC Comics, as a comic book artist.

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