Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Adagio Dance Company at Brandeis

Last Saturday night, I witnessed the Adagio Dance Company - Brandeis University's largest student-run dance group - perform its annual spring dance review. It was sensational! I say this both as an objective observer and lover of dance and as the uncle of Micaela Preskill, choreographer of 2 of the show's most exciting numbers, dancer in 5 of its most intricate pieces, and one of the lead organizers and coordinators of the entire program. Remarkably, Adagio is open to any Brandeis student who wants to dance. Very professional dancers, like Micaela, participate in the same program as much less accomplished but still dedicated performers. The result is a beautiful and democratic mix of precise, polished movement and somewhat more tentative but highly energetic expression. The wonderful thing is that anyone can take part and contribute impressively to a genuinely entertaining show.

Micaela Preskill herself is a beautiful dancer. Her long, graceful body sweeps lithely across the stage, moving effortlessly from one dance form to another. In one scene, she holds a balletic-like pose; in another, she struts to a hip hop beat; in still another, she gyrates robot-like to the strains of Dr. Dre; in still another, she portrays Tony from West Side Story stretching her whole self to the sky in anticipation of something coming. In all of these moments, as well as so many others, she smiles genuinely, holds her line perfectly, and inhabits the character she is portraying convincingly, even as she glows with passion for the dance. Her love of dance is reflected in her luminous face and her smooth movements, and we, too, smile irresistibly seeing how ebulliently she revels in this opportunity to perform before a large audience.

Of course, though, Micaela, is not only a dancer; she is a choreographer and a leader, too. The two dances she choreographed were very different, one for the Dance Ensemble, a highly skilled dance company, and one for a much larger group of less proficient dancers. In both cases, though, the power of dance to tell a story are strongly in evidence, as are Micaela's commitment to making dance as fun and as exhilarating as possible. The variety of movement that she requires of her dancers is striking and the manner in which they execute her designs is nothing short of phenomenal.

In the end, though, what impressed me most was Micaela's ability to bring the whole show together. To coordinate everyone's contributions and to make sure that it all worked so well. What Adagio did the other night was amazing, and what leaders like Micaela did to bring it to fruition reminds me of what it takes to be an effective leader. Leaders must be committed, passionate, disciplined, persistent, and in love with what they doing. Micaela showed all those things and so much more. Hats off to Adagio and Micaela Preskill!

P.S. For those wondering what this post has to do with New York City, I have two things to say about that. One, what we saw verged on New York quality and two, it turns out many of the dancers in the show hail from New York.

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