Review: upper school dance concert

I have to admit this was my first time seeing the upper school dance concert, and after a nearly 30-minute late start because there was so much traffic, I was a little tentative. But once the eerie music started to play and the lovely voice of French teacher Simona Ghirlanda as the blue fairy echoed on stage, I was hooked.

This year’s well conceived and beautifully produced concert directed by dance teacher Cynthia Winter and student choreographed tells the story of Pinocchio. You know, that little puppet whose nose grows when he lies and who wants to be a “real boy.” Although the theme was chosen at the beginning of the year, the message of “let your conscience be your guide” was timely and powerful in the wake of six expulsions for cheating.

For one hour and 20 minutes five Pinocchios (played by Zoe Johnson ’08, Erica Carpenter ’08, Natalie Williams ’08, Matthew Krumpe ’08 and Ellie Bensinger ’09) danced their way through the puppet master’s (a fat-suit clad Alisa Houghton ’08) marionette show, the Pleasure Island and, of course, the belly of a very convincing whale created by the dancers.

The production design was incredibly stunning. The transition from one Pinocchio to the other was seamless, but I won’t say anything more on that for fear of spoilers. Also, the clever use of bungee cords was especially notable.

Costume designer Lisa Peters’ costumes were adorable (especially the ones worn by the marionettes in the puppet show) and did not detract from the dancer’s movements.

The music sometimes fit almost a little too perfectly. The song “Donkey Riding” for the journey to Pleasure Island where the boys are going to be turned into donkeys? Right on the money. The finale danced to a song whose lyrics include the words “real boy?” Pretty good too.

Everything was choreographed well, I especially enjoyed the numbers with the fox and the cat, the graceful Taylor Lasley ’08 and Jason Byun ’09 respectively. 
My one gripe is that some of the transitional dances with the bungee cords could have been a bit shorter, but that request is nitpicky.
That aside the night made me remember how terrified I was of Pinocchio as a child. In a completely good way.