This weekend, Swarthmore was witness to the innovative dance performance Approaching Green. From the beginning, it was unlike any other dance performance I have experienced. As they walked in, each audience member received a spontaneous hug from the three ushers. The randomness, joy and awkwardness of the experience wonderfully set the tone for what was to come.
The theme of Approaching Green was human contact of every kind. Donna Uchizono, the director, said that part of her inspiration was an enlightened woman in India who spread her message through hugs; she gave upwards of 5000 strangers a hug every day. The fact that this many people, even in an age where the Internet is a primary form of human contact, appreciated physical contact so greatly reminded her of how incredibly important it is for emotional, intellectual, and spiritual growth. Thus, the concept for Approaching Green was born.
The set was a bit shocking- and very, very pink. The set could have been overwhelming, but instead, it was designed in such a way that it actually looked quite artistic and automatically lifted my mood. The set made the audience feel as though it were being hugged, and it succeeded spectacularly. Wendy Winters, the set designer, very adeptly managed to make the abundance of pink swirling about onstage far more enjoyable than overwhelming- even for someone who does not usually take the color seriously.
The dancers themselves were quite talented, and expressed themselves very effectively. The steps looked as though they were done with complete ease, which I attribute to the dancers’ strength. Each of them managed to capture the essence of human contact in their mixture of jerky, legato, exaggerated, and subtle movements throughout the performance.
The choreography mainly played off of the performance’s theme: contact. It was probably the first dance show I have seen where the performers were in contact for most of the time. It was rather startling at first, but interesting once the concept was grasped.
The performers and artistic directors of Approaching Green created a piece that is truly remarkable, and completely altered my opinion on the color pink.