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Friday, Jun 2, 2023

Evolution dancers drop their masks

Whether it be Darth Vader’s ominous helmet or the mask we wish we could have worn to school in our awkward stages, we cloak ourselves in protective shields to hide what often scares us most: our authentic selves. At Evolution dance crew’s fall debut, “The Mask Has Fallen,” dancers and audience alike shattered our fronts to celebrate what’s real: us, sans filter or any other tools designed to alter the original.

The crowd swelled in the lobby with each passing minute leading up to the performance. People were everywhere, anxiously positioning themselves by the doors to Wilson Hall to ensure not only entry, but also the best seats in the house. No one wanted to miss anything. 

Asked about the role dance has played in her life here at the college, audience member Zoey Ellis ’22 pointed out how the arts opportunities have affected her as an individual. “Being able to artistically express my ideas and support my friends as they create a world of their own definition is essential to my Middlebury career,” Ellis said, beaming with anticipation.

Every seat in the house was filled. The show opened with a number titled “Mask Off,” where a group of dancers moved as one and seemed to say, “sit a little farther up on the edge of your seat, you won’t be falling asleep here.” And grow weary we did not. Following the dazzling group piece, the audience was struck by a saturated background, glowing behind four silhouettes. Isolating their body parts in sync with the beat, these dancers became the music, their choreography precisely timed and incredibly sharp.

Spirits rose with each piece, the whoops and hollers gaining volume with each new interpretation. Notable among these was a number about a third of the way through the show, when a cast composed entirely of women emerged onstage. Looking fierce and confident, the dancers seemed to empower one another and the audience members through a unified representation of how women should play active roles in uplifting one another. Their expressive choreography emphasized the importance of their presence on the stage — reaffirming the power of dance as an artistic outlet. Almost like a conversation, the all-women piece was followed by all men.

Evolution’s fall show, titled “The Mask Has Fallen,” featured urban dance performances choreographed and performed entirely by students.

“Everyone has a mask they uphold. Everyone has a front we put up to fit in at Middlebury,” said audience member Samantha Paredes ’20. On the stage, however, these masks got lost in the music, in the movement and in the smiles rippling through the room. In context of these performances, the show’s title “The Mask Has Fallen” can be interpreted as the emergence of the truth. 

What is the truth, exactly? It could be recognizing the flaws in ourselves that we can work to improve or seeing who around us needs support. It could be something as simple as the stagnancy that comes with being too set in a routine, something that can be fixed by remaining open and exploring new opportunities. 

“As a first-year you never really know how people are going to interact with you in new spaces, particularly in established groups such as Evo. I was worried that there would be cliques or seniority, but that really turned out to not be the case,” said new Evolution member Ev Berger-Wolf ’23. “Everyone’s been kind and encouraging.”

After transporting the audience into an office-setting, where dancers dressed in white button-ups alternated between answering the rings of a phone and furiously scribbling notes, the show drew to a close. All of the dancers came together to perform a final hip-hop heavy dance on and in front of the stage, seeming to include the audience in their finale. The left-over light from the overhead disco ball dispersed with the crowd, and Wilson Hall was left feeling a little brighter.

The mask has fallen indeed.