Shove! Push!, Theatre UCF’s sixth annual dance concert, debuted last week at the Orlando Repertory Theatre. The concert consisted of 19 acts choreographed and performed solely by students or recent graduates of the UCF Theatre Department. This was a change from past years when faculty members helped produce some of the pieces.
Shove! Push! opened with its longest act, “Push Connect.” The piece was choreographed by Rebecca May Dilks, and it illustrated the clarity one is sometimes able to find amongst life’s confusion and frenzy.
Musical theater sophomore Deirdre Manning was one of the dancers in “Push Connect” and said the most challenging aspect of the concert was “connecting the movements with the story we’re trying to tell.”
Cindy Heen, a 2011 UCF graduate who earned a bachelor’s in interdisciplinary studies and a minor in dance, choreographed a piece called “3012.”
“Although it’s been great working with faculty members in the past, having all student choreographers has made this year’s concert more cohesive with more focus and attention to the show,” Heen said.
Heen’s “3012” was mostly inspired by the song “Derezzed (The Glitch Mob Remix),” by the electronic music duo Daft Punk. Heen said her vision for the piece came together by listening to the song. Her idea further evolved through costuming and the use of lights, both in the costumes and as spotlights.
Heen, who was Earl Weaver’s assistant choreographer for last year’s The Pajama Game, said her past experience helped mold her choreography for “3012.”
“I’ve done a lot of contemporary dance and wanted to do something different,” Heen said. “So, this year I went for an avant-garde theme. I’m trying to push boundaries of the movements.”
Though this was Heen’s third year choreographing, she said performing on stage is her biggest passion.
“I love performing,” Heen said. “Being on stage is a deeper passion of mine right now. But I also enjoy making my vision come to life.”
Zachary O’Hanlon, an Oviedo High School senior who attended the concert, named “3012” as his favorite piece.
“I thought it was quite interesting how they managed to choreograph the music perfectly with the dance,” O’Hanlon said. “I also liked the lights in the costumes, and how the dancers managed to convey a story without the use of words.”
The concert made prominent use of lighting as an aspect of storytelling. Spotlights emphasized the importance of specific dancers throughout the pieces. Different colors, such as blue and pink, were used in accordance with the mood of each dance.
Shove! Push! also featured a wide range of music including modern songs such as a live cover of Adele’s “Someone Like You,” John Mellencamp’s 1982 hit “Jack & Diane” and the piano piece “River Flows in You” by Yiruma.
Damian Barra, a UCF musical theater junior who starred in “Polarized” by Amanda Castro, was especially enthusiastic about working with his choreographer.
“My favorite aspect of the concert has been getting to work with Amanda Castro,” Barra said. “I really admire her style, it’s very unique in the way she moves and motivates the movements.”
Barra said that collaborating with Castro has helped him bring her choreography to life.
“When the choreographer is teaching you, it really helps to pay attention to the details, both with the dance’s physicality as well as the emotional motivation behind it,” Barra said.
Having past experience as a choreographer, Barra said he is equally passionate about both dancing and choreographing.
“I love them both. I can’t really choose,” Barra said. “Choreographing is a different type of challenge – creating movement is different than performing it.”
The performance ran from April 19 to its closing night on April 21. Auditions for Shove! Push! began in October 2011, and training spanned from November to March of this year. The warm reception from the crowd proved their practice had paid off.