On May 22, the Department of Theater and Dance will broadcast its annual Spring Dance Concert, which will feature performances by students from four Bowdoin dance classes. While the concert will be presented in film form, the performers had the opportunity to dance together for the first time in over a year to record the performance.
“This semester, we felt the need to involve the community in what we are doing [and] to share the work we do, ”said Aretha Aoki, assistant dance teacher, in an interview with Zoom with the Orient. “I think we all need that form of expression right now – seeing people move can be really necessary in a lot of ways. It can be a kind of healing balm for this disembodied time that we are in.
In his own course, Movement, Breath, Healing: Politics and Practices of Self-Care, Aoki worked with students to create embodied grounded thanks for their final projects. With the help of Wabanaki REACH, an indigenous activism organization, as well as the United States Department of Culture and Art (USDCA) and indigenous artist Devynn Emory, the Aoki students created their own performances based on indigenous history and culture.
“From the start of the course, [each student] developed a relationship with a local place, ”Aoki said. “This relationship, along with all the information they have through Wabanaki REACH, USDCA and Devynn Emory, is part of what they bring to their final projects.”
In addition to understanding the element of ground recognition of their performances, Aoki has his students create their own masks from discarded materials.
“The idea is to take care of the materials that [the students] otherwise would be considered wasteful and not think twice and then create something, ”Aoki said. “The concert will have many visual elements.”
Professor Adanna Jones’ course, Afro-Modern Stories and Techniques II, will also contribute to student performances at the concert. Jones’ students drew inspiration from movements from African, African-American, and Afro-Caribbean cultures, as well as choreography by black artists such as Ron K. Brown, Savion Glover, and Michael Jackson.
However, Introduction to Modern Dance and Advanced Repertoire and Performance, both taught by Professor Gwenyth Jones, will instead feature professionally choreographed student performances. students in creative agency in their own solos.
“[Gwenyth Jones] herself choreographs a large part of the piece, [but] It’s really special to see little bits of what you did in the job and all of us in this room have little solos, ”Petropoulos said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “The simple fact of thinking about new ways of choreographing and creating new choreographies is a very great strength of [Jones], and it was really fun doing it.
While thrilled to dance alongside her peers again, Charlotte Doughty 23, an advanced repertoire and performance student, explained that it is often difficult to stay socially distanced during improvisations.
“It was really hard to keep six feet apart during the dance, because you want to do elevators and be close to each other,” Doughty said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “We thought about possibly having an away performance, but we just didn’t know what the restrictions would be. [and] how many people could come there… that’s why we decided to embark on the filming project.
Petropoulos argued that, while stimulating, these safety precautions allowed him to expand the boundaries of his choreography and performance.
“You kind of have to readjust your expectations for some of your choreographic ideas,” Petropoulos said. “But also, with all of the challenges of dancing during the pandemic, there is always a downside where I found there was a lot of benefit to doing a lot of creative problem solving and figuring out how to maximize your creativity. ideas in the given parameters. “
Petropoulos believes that despite the unconventional circumstances of this year’s dance concert, she still enjoys dancing and appreciates the opportunity to share her passion with the community.
“In general, while it’s really easy to criticize and have downsides, I felt really grateful to have a physical space to dance to and to have a teacher who was so accommodating and supportive,” Petropoulos said. . “And even when we’ve had major setbacks, we’ve all been able to fix the problem and create something that I know everyone is really proud of.”