Monday Monologue breaks barriers with dance performance


Student dance organization Orchesis I performed five excerpts from their show “’Barjche’ 2020: Dancing through Barriers” in the Grant Wood Foyer.

Cameron Karn

The soft voices of hushed chatter filled the small acoustic space of the Grant Wood Foyer as the clock ticked closer and closer to showtime. After some testing of the stage stereo, Susan Gent came on stage at 12:15 p.m. to introduce Cynthia Adams and the student dance organization, Orchesis I.

Then Adams, the artistic director, choreographer and advisor to Orchesis I, took the stage and explained in detail what the show was about. The performance was five excerpts from their “’Barjche’ 2020: Dancing through Barriers” show that were shrunk down to fit the smaller stage space. The pieces celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote and the people in our nation’s past and present who have broken through barriers.

The first excerpt of the show was a solo called “The Reason,” performed by Orchesis I’s student president, Cortney Elkin. She brought a chair on stage with her and placed it in the center of the stage. Using the chair as a prop, her performance came to a close with her sitting down with her head held high.

For the second piece, another chair was brought on stage for the duet called “The Man.” Both of the two dancers seated themselves in a chair and mirrored each other’s movements, using the handrail in the center of the stage as a divider. The dance ended with the two dancers standing in their chairs, facing each other.

The next excerpt was an improvisation called “65 Million.” Eight dancers lined up in two columns spanning the staircase on stage. “This is a special treat, never before seen, for your eyes only,” Adams said to the audience. The dancer at the bottom of the stairs was holding a small purple ball, and as the piece started, the ball was being passed back and forth, zigzagging up and then back down the stairs.

Dancers Maddie Landahl and Cortney Elkin said that the choreographer of the piece had a close family member that suffers from epilepsy. The ball represented the burden of epilepsy, and that they were passing the burden to each other to represent how it can affect others.

Following that was an excerpt from the piece “L(one)ly.” Three dancers took the stage and swept side to side between the handrails of the stage to a sad, slow instrumental song.

Before the next act, Adams explained how the floor is covered in newspapers during the full performance of this piece. As two dancers performed, a modified Susan B. Anthony speech was read. In the speech, Susan B. Anthony was on trial for unlawfully voting in a presidential election as a woman.

Before the last piece, all of the performers took the stage and lined up to introduce themselves with their name and what they are studying at Iowa State.

The final piece was an improvisation, including all of the dancers as an excerpt of the opening piece of the show. Afterwards, the performers lined up once more for a bow as the audience applauded in recognition.

After the show, Adams, joined by some of the dancers, stayed behind to answer questions while music students, who were offered course credit for attending, took pictures and gathered signatures as proof of viewership.

The full presentation of “Barjche’ 2020: Dancing through Barriers” can be seen at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Fisher Theater.