A semester’s worth of work by Bowdoin dancers will come to life in Pickard Theater tonight. Six unique pieces will represent nearly every dance class from the department, as over 60 students grace the stage at the December Dance Concert.
Produced by Senior Lecturer in Dance and Performance Gwyneth Jones and featuring choreography by her, Assistant Professor of Dance Adanna Jones and Assistant Professor of Dance Aretha Aoki, the annual concert is the product of a dynamic, growing department.
Courses like Adanna Jones’ “Cultural Choreographies” bring together cultural histories and movements, which will be showcased at the concert. At the same time, repertoire focused courses, such as “Advanced Repertory and Performance” taught by Gwyneth Jones, have performance at their epicenter.
Between four weekly hours of class and lengthy tech rehearsals, Gwyneth Jones says it’s always a privilege to watch the dances take shape. She says the dances are formed around the dancers themselves—their identity, personality, quantity and capacity. Jones designs around music, and students play an active role in choreography, especially in the duets that form the center of one of the pieces.
“Some of the movement belongs to them, and we work with it, and they teach each other,” said Gwyneth Jones. “And then some of the movement I’ve made. But the dance would be different if there was another person instead of the dancer there originally.”
Dancers come to the stage with vastly different backgrounds, from first-time performers in Gwyneth Jones’ Introduction to Modern Dance to Bowdoin’s first and thus far only dance major, Lucia Gagliardone ’20. But for students like Brooke Wrubel ’21, the most remarkable end product is the community that has formed.
“It truly does not matter how much dance experience someone has or hasn’t had—we are all sharing the stage and dancing together,” she said.
As part of the “Modern II: Repertory and Performance” class, Wrubel has experienced firsthand the collaborative, hands-on nature of the creation of these dances.
“Gwyneth Jones blended our phrases while also infusing her own choreography,” said Wrubel. “There’s something really powerful about performing a piece that is reflective of the five of us as individual voices.”
Gwyneth Jones enjoys watching the students grow into performance and leadership roles. Not just dancers, but also the people behind the curtain. Lights and staging have been an integral part of bringing this performance to life, and staff and student techs have been working hard since well before Thanksgiving.
“It’s terrific to see what people thought they couldn’t do and then realize that they can, that they are doing it, you know—and that takes a while to see that in yourself. It’s easier to see it when you’re on the outside,” Gwyneth Jones said. “We think we don’t change, but we do.”
Dance concerts always draw out the community, she added.
“People bring their kids!” Gwyneth Jones said. “And I think, partially, it’s because the work is strong. But also because it’s free!”
“I think any time that you’re exposed to any type of art, it changes the way you look at things and provokes conversation,” she added. “I think that’s just a win all the way around.”
The December Dance Concert will be in Pickard Theater at 7:30 p.m. tonight and Saturday night and at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday.