The USM Repertory Dance Company presented its first night of “Mark’d in Time” at The Thirsty Hippo Thursday night at 7 p.m.
The program consisted of three modern dance acts by senior performance-choreography majors as a part of their senior projects.
“Modern dance, for me, is that one room you can go into, do anything and call it ‘dance’,” said senior choreographer Kelsey Guy. “It just has no rules.”
Opening night had a packed house, completely filling available seat space which left many standing or sitting along walls.
Tyler McCants directed the opening act, “Known Conundrum,” which offered tracks by Kid Cudi and Radiohead, encapsulating the “futuristic” and “rhythmic” sounds he envisioned.
“A ‘conundrum’ is a confusion, a dilemma and the fact that it is ‘known’ amongst the dancers is supposed to be somewhat an oxymoron,” McCants said on his decision regarding the title.
Seven dancers walked on the newly-constructed plywood stage, seasonally clad in warm tones that embraced the rustic-albeit-quaint environment of the venue.
They moved in a process that varied between sporadic, individual movement and tandem, group movement before coming together at the end.
“What I tried to do was look at each of my dancers as a ‘conundrum’ his or herself and make that dilemma ‘known’ by each of them coming together as one at the end,” McCants said.
Guy, when speaking of her piece “Poor Reception,” mentioned the emotions and art that emerges and translates when directing pieces of dance.
“As a senior, I am facing graduation and deciding where I want to go from here, so I think that lack of clarity and that struggle naturally came out in my work,” Guy said.
Brittany Kuehn said the inspiration for her piece “One” came from elementary school children’s responses to the question “what yoga means to me?” after teaching it for a year.
“One kid said ‘yoga is a place for me to go and escape’, which connected to me because dance has always been my escape,” Kuehn said.
The piece consisted of five dancers in light-hearted costumes, evocative of how young children may dress themselves: colorful tulle, mix-matched patterns and unconventional layers of shorts over pants.
The performance strategically involved the audience by mimicking various audience members’ gestures and utilizing chairs on-stage to place dancers “on the audience’s level.”
“What I wanted to see was what would happens if the dancers were watching the audience,” Kuehn said.
Brad Newton, owner of the restaurant-venue, said ‘Mark’d in Time’ debuted the building’s spacious back area, which will be used as a venue for events across the board.
The Thirsty Hippo, originally opened in 2000, made its second revolution last year after opening in its new location on McLeod Street.
“The reason for the location’s change was so that we could do things like this: one night a dance recital, like tonight and the next, say a movie screening,” Newton said in hopes of seeing a variety of events pass through the space.