Courtesy of The Daily Mississippian
by Amelia Camurati
The Uganda Project: Come & See-Go & Tell, created, directed and choreographed by Jennifer Mizenko has a great meaning and purpose behind it, but I honestly cannot tell you what that purpose is or what really went on for the entire 90 minutes of the dance experience.
While Mizenko may have gone, seen and come back, the show has no recognizable storyline. I tried flipping through the playbill to cure the confusion about who is who and where these people are going consumes the majority of each piece.
By the time I had figured it out, there is a completely different set of dancers on stage to distinguish.
I commend Mizenko for taking such an obviously beautiful experience and bringing it back to share with everyone and anyone willing to listen, but there is nothing to listen to.
Without narration or at least an insert with the background information of the experience, the beauty and message is lost.
The sporadic photography helped paint a picture of the African atmosphere, the beauty and desolation, but it was nothing that had not been before. There was no explanation of the characters as people, and it was difficult to discern between quite a few without knowing the dancers’ names.
Taylor Thomas, senior hospitality management major, takes her role as The Job Lady and creates a breathtaking portrayal of a woman in crisis. Her ability to move with grace while restricted by a skirt is the most beautiful moment of the show.
Even though the majority of the cast looked beyond miserable for the majority of the production, one newcomer caught my attention almost immediately.
Brianna Fuller, freshman theater major, glowed with energy and enthusiasm from beginning to end. Her portrayal of Whitney, one of the missionaries, brought a bit of much-needed light back to the stage.
If the rest of the cast can catch her enthusiasm and draw the audience in, the bewilderment will become less of an issue.
As a less religious person than the majority of the population, I was shocked and almost offended by the blatant religious outpour found in nearly every scene.
While I respect everyone’s right to the first amendment and the freedom to practice whatever they please, it is the last thing I want to see from the dark abyss of the house.
Yes, the trip was a missionary trip and religion was a huge part of the experience, but it becomes a constant tick for those with a different faith.
Dex Edwards saves the day once again with his brilliant scenic design that attracts enough attention to get noticed but blends in seamlessly to become the most specific hospital room or the most vague African plain.
His ability to hide an entire porch for the majority of the performance, however, is the most amazing part of the entire show (minus the live chickens).
While the show is not heavy on props, the few that were necessary were used well. Despite the fact that I never knew where they were going, the props used to create a car for the 15 dancers to pile into was a brilliantly crafted way to remove the bulky aspect of what could have been.
The lighting was the best they have had this semester, and the designer Paul Kennedy should be proud.
The images that were created and deepened with a simple manipulation of light brought life to the performance.
The Job Lady’s solo has a barely-lit stage, but the lack of light brings more to the piece than any amount of brightness could ever do.
In order to truly enjoy The Uganda Project, you must come into the experience fully knowing that you will not understand what you are seeing and draw your focus to the fact that there is beautiful choreography mixed among the confusion.
Believing that the beauty of dance is enough to tell a story is a wonderful thought, but the ability to execute expression with no words is harder than I once thought.