The 2023 University Dance Theatre Spring Concert Left a Lasting Impression


Dray’s Digifoto

A dancer in the opening night of the University Dance Theatre spring concert. Photo courtesy ODU Dance.

By Vincent Shuler, Contributing Writer

The University Dance Theatre Spring Concert, which ran from April 12-15, showcased a plethora of solo and group performances choreographed and performed by ODU Dance students in an array of styles such as, jazz, afro-contemporary hip hop, and modern. 


The University Dance Theatre opened with an electrifying performance titled “Radiance,” choreographed by the talented instructor Davianna Griffin. Taking the audience on a journey into the world of Afro-beat, Griffin broke down the complex choreography into four distinct phrases that were later rearranged to create a mesmerizing sequence of movements. The piece featured stunning solo dramaturgy by the talented Tianna Reed, whose performance of the spoken word poem “I Talk Black” left a lasting impression. Reed effortlessly conveyed the raw emotion of the poem through her movements, enrapturing  the audience with every step.


In a moving tribute to a friend who passed away, third year student Kamoeron Clark delivered an emotionally charged solo performance titled, “The Merge.” Combining an impressive range of dance styles including hip hop, afro, contemporary, modern, and ballet, Clark seamlessly fused these disparate genres into a cohesive and captivating performance in improv style. Set to the stirring track “Never Forget” by Omah Lay, the piece was a poignant expression of grief and remembrance. Clark’s movements evoked a deep sense of longing and loss. Despite the heavy subject matter, “The Merge” was a powerful testament to the healing power of dance and the strength of the human spirit.


Following a brief intermission, the audience was treated to a unique and entertaining performance titled “Still Standing.” Choreographed by the esteemed dance director of the school, Megan Thompson, in collaboration with the dancers, the piece was meant to be an improv. Despite the seriousness that often accompanies dance, “Still Dancing” was executed in what seemed to be a comical fashion . The performance featured three duets, each cycling through their respective phrases, and as the song progressed, the dancers began to shout “falling” and repeatedly collapsed to the ground while running across the stage. The students were tasked with playing with different dynamics throughout the piece, resulting in a lively and unpredictable performance. Overall, “Still Standing” was a welcome departure from the more traditional pieces of the evening, showcasing the versatility and creativity of the dancers and choreographers alike.


Tianna Reed, a talented soon-to-be graduate of the Class of 2023, showcased her skills as a dancer in her first choreographed piece, “Who is the Imposter?” Inspired by the popular computer game “Among Us,” the performance kept the audience on the edge of their seats as they tried to figure out which dancer was the “imposter”. Each dancer delivered their own mini solo, with the identity of the Imposter slowly being revealed throughout the piece. Set to the music of controversial hip-hop artist Kanye West, with his track “Heaven and Hell” serving as the first musical component, the dancers moved with  uniformity, showcasing their skill and precision. As the piece progressed, however, the dancers began to display their individuality, each bringing their unique style and flair to the performance. With a clever concept and impressive execution, “Who is the Imposter?” was a standout piece of the evening, showcasing the brilliance ODU produces in its dance department.


“Rooted” was the last piece of the night. What set it apart from the rest of the pieces was that the choreographer, Jennifer Archibald, was hand picked by ODU and came all the way from New York to hold auditions for the selected dancers. The first rehearsal for the piece was that same day, and the dancers only had one week to learn and perform the choreography. One dancer said it was one of the most challenging yet rewarding pieces to learn given the limited time and tough scrutiny from the instructor.


Overall, the University Dance Theatre Spring Concert was an impressive showcase of the talent and creativity of the ODU dance department, providing a memorable evening of enthralling  performances that stretched the boundaries of dance and left a lasting impression on its audience.