Appalachian State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance‘s Spring Appalachian Dance Ensemble, or SADE, is a highly anticipated event that has brought together a talented group of faculty and student choreographers. Coordinated by Dance Studies professor Susan Lutz, the showcase features a diverse range of dance styles, including work by faculty members Marianne Adams, Regina Gulick, Sherone Price, and Lutz herself. Student choreographers Audrey Black, Imajin Graham, Anissa Gatland, Lyndsay Snider, and Dr. Tandra Carter, Director of Counseling for faculty and staff, also contributed a diverse and impressive array of dance styles to the evening’s performances.

The evening felt like a true celebration of dance and movement in all forms, with each piece exploring different themes of community, struggle, appreciation, and solace through fresh and exciting movements. The transitions between pieces were seamless and engaging, with scattered asymmetrical formations that added an extra layer of visual interest to the show.

The costumes harmoniously complemented the theme of each piece, enhancing the overall visual impact of the performances. The costumes were incredibly flowy, including some cool MC Hammer-esque pants, and often worked in compliment with the lighting design. The dancers in Stress Reaction wore tan, flowy pajama/scrub-looking outfits, and as the action would rise, the dancers tore their shirts off one by one. The use of elemental and organic movements added a dynamic and powerful sense of energy to the stage, further elevating the emotional impact of the dancers’ movements. Each performance conveyed a unique and captivating story, enhanced by the expertly crafted lighting and diverse score that added depth and nuance to the choreography.

The use of the backdrop to create silhouettes, combined with the awe-inspiring lighting and sound design, transcended all the performances beyond the stage. The dancers’ remarkable talent and versatility were showcased in each piece, from the energetic and vigorous bounce and rock movements to the precise and intimate group isolations.

Two standout pieces were Echoing Rhythms, choreographed by Gulick, and Stress Reaction, choreographed by Lutz, which mesmerized the audience with their hypnotic facial expressions and dynamic choreography. In two other performances, a dancer even extended beyond the stage and ran down the aisles, adding an extra layer of excitement to the performance.

One of the highlights of the evening was the finale, Moribayassa, an African-themed piece by Price and Carter that featured live drums and a surprising trumpet solo by one of the dancers. The dancers also impressively played the drums along with the drummers and danced at the same time. Moribayassa is a West-African dance traditionally performed by women to symbolize overcoming adversities as well as representing “the positive spirit of a community.”

Overall, SADE showcased a wide range of talent and creativity through a thoughtful set of performances that moved effortlessly from lively and energetic to calm and contemplative, leaving the audience with a sense of appreciation for the power of dance to convey emotion and tell stories.

The Spring Appalachian Dance Ensemble continues through Sunday, April 2. For more details on this production, please view the sidebar.