Dance Into Spring: the live show Iowa City needed

On the evening of May 1, Hancher and Ballet Des Moines’ Dance Into Spring concert brought the community together for live dance performances.


Jeff Sigmund

Members of Ballet Des Moines perform before a large crowd on Saturday, May 1, 2021. The event was part of Dance into Spring held at Hancher.

Tatiana Plowman, Arts Reporter

With the sun shining and a temperature of 84 degrees on May 1, it couldn’t have been a better May Day night to enjoy a live performance.

Dance into Spring, a show in partnership with Ballet Des Moines drew roughly 1,000 people outside Hancher Auditorium. Couples, parents and children, and students gathered outside, setting up picnic blankets and lawn chairs.

Hancher Auditorium partnered with many downtown restaurants to provide picnic baskets to be eaten during the show. Patrons were able to pre-order these meals to participate in the “Pick a Picnic” portion of the event. Some of these restaurants included Micky’s Irish Pub and Pullman Bar and Diner.

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Hawkeye pride could not have been more alive than within the UI Dance Company’s first performance, “And Let’s Go.” The event began with the 13 dancers on the stage performing to a recording from the Hawkeye Marching Band. Sporting black and gold, the dancers owned the stage. Their dance movements emulated band instruments through rhythmic clapping and followed formations typically seen by the marching band.

For the second performance of the night, Ballet Des Moines dancers were joined on stage by live musicians from the Roseman Quartet. This piece, entitled “Sliding Figures (Andante con moto),” followed traditional ballet stylings infused with characteristic movements following the modern genre of dance. It was evident within this piece that all the dancers have a strong connection to one another.

Carlos Quenedit and Katia Carranza of Miami City Ballet performed the exquisite “Pas de Deux” from Don Quixote. Both dancers performed with impeccable technique. Performing en pointe is incredibly difficult, but this duo made it look easy. The sunset brought out the shimmering red details on their black-based costumes. After the thunder of applause from the audience, the show held a 20-minute intermission.

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The UI Dance Company then re-entered the stage in white costumes, performing to the piece, “De António, de Brincante e Vira Mundo.” With innovative and visceral choreography by UI Department of Dance Professor Armando Duarte, the piece was exquisite to watch. The lighting design went through a rainbow of colors, complimenting the rainbow umbrella props each dancer held.

Closing out the night was a final performance by Ballet Des Moines. Their piece, “In Formation” certainly deserved the standing ovation they received. The partnering work among the three pairs was mesmerizing. The dance gave me chills, I never knew how badly I missed seeing live performances. As the dancers gave their final bows, the audience roared with applause.

All in all, the event was stunning. I was impressed by all the dancers and the way they presented themselves on stage. Each dancer lit up the stage and flawlessly executed their movement. Hancher did a fantastic job of abiding by the COVID-19 guidelines as well.  I cannot wait for the next in-person event to watch art come to life.