The Rhythms of Virago-Man Dem

This production of Virago-Man Dem was an intriguing display of various movements and vibrant colors, blending light and dance for a single product.
-By Daniel Holley

Created by University of Illinois dance professor Cynthia Oliver, Virago-Man Dem is filled with simple movements and dance patterns. The four cast members dance fluidly around one another, and are often not in-sync. This style of dance is impressive to me because each member must keep track of their own specific movements and position on the stage floor. Although the choreography did not appear especially tricky, the cast was able to execute the simple movements in a way that kept the audience’s attention.

The performance had some interesting ideas to make it more impactful. One part that stuck out to me was the way the dance began. At the beginning of the performance, the four cast members enter the stage one by one before standing completely still. They each wore a plain hooded sweatshirt, adding to the mystery of what was about to come. This process began before the audience had finished settling into their seats, and the dance did not begin for over 10 minutes. During this time the theater grew quiet and dark, and by the time this entrance period finished, it felt as if I was immersed in an entirely different atmosphere.

This dance also took advantage of lighting and sounds for mood and emphasis. A vertical sheet in the back of the stage acted as a canvas for many different projections. These included colorful silhouettes and smoky streaks of light. At times, a large word such as “BOOM!” would appear to accompany the cast members speeches, adding to the impact of their words. Doing this throughout the dance helps the audience understand what parts are more important, or what mood to feel.

In conclusion, Virago-Man Dem was a visual spectacle that stuck out to me because of its simple choreography and colorful displays. The cast was undoubtedly talented in their dancing and speaking abilities, and the crew behind the scenes worked well with the lighting. Although I normally prefer more high-energy performances, I also appreciate the calmer dances like this one.

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