By Rebecca Juntunen
Pensacola State College received a taste of variation on the typical Pensacola dance culture, when SWERVE, a local Dance Company, performed in the Ashmore Auditorium on Saturday, January 25th.
SWERVE is a modern dance ensemble based in Northwest Florida, founded by
LaVonne French— an instructor of dance at PSC—and Elizabeth Bradford.
Their eleven dance routines varied from featuring the entire SWERVE ensemble, to solo performers, to an appearance by the West Florida High School Winter Guard, who combined their dance with an intricate choreography of flags and banners.
Set to music such as John Cage, Loreena McKennit, the Halo 3 soundtrack, and Imagine Dragons, the dances created a mystical, suspenseful air in some routines and a romantic or resolved tone in others.
Regardless of tone, each dance reflected a purely unique, modern style.
Bradford, a co-founder and one of the group’s choreographers, described the style as “their niche”.
French, defined it as “modern dance,” that “has been around for over 100 years. It was rebelling against constraints of ballet, and has evolved over the years.”
Style was enhanced by themes, through creative costumes, colorful lighting and unique choreography focusing on angles of the body.
These themes ranged from humorous to sorrowful, and from passionate to courageous.
French described that they try to communicate a gamut of emotions through their dances, and often have pieces “where we try to get the audience to come up with their up interpretation of it.”
One such humorous selection was a mock-up of a popular Youtube video, while another transported the audience back to the 80’s.
Shelby Weeden, a PSC student taking one of French’s classes, commented that she most enjoyed how unique the performance was. “It’s very different than hip-hop and ballet. There’s not very much modern around here, and this promotes it in a neat way.”