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Theater, dance performances highlight a semester’s work

December 6, 2019

Ann Basu
DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY: Samara Nassor ’22 and Gabriela Inoa ’22 take center stage in a performance to culminate the Introduction to Carribean Dances and Cultures course taught by Assistant Professor of Dance Adanna Kai Jones.

Promising dazzling choreography and powerful theatrical pieces, the theater and dance department will bring the fall semester to a close with an array of student works. These culminating performances will be showcased in the December Dance Concert and performances of directing class projects over the next week.

A record number of students took courses in the theater and dance department this semester. Sixteen students are set to present directing projects and over 70 will perform in this weekend’s dance concert.

“It’s been really amazing seeing how many students on campus [are involved], from quite a large amount of students who are exceptionally well trained, brilliant dancers and also a bunch of students who are dancing for the first time,” said Lucia Gagliardone ’20, who will perform in the show. “That full range of beauty and art being displayed in the concert is really amazing.”

The dance concert includes choreography by Assistant Professor of Dance Adanna Jones, Senior Dance Lecturer Gwyneth Jones, Adjunct Lecturer in Dance Shaina Cantino, and Visiting Professor of Dance Vanessa Anspaugh, as well as some student choreography and improvised work.

Gagliardone, Bowdoin’s first—and so far only—dance major, will also be performing a solo piece in the dance concert, an excerpt from her senior thesis which will be presented in full later this spring.

“It’s very vulnerable to show your own work.” said Gagliardone. “Part of the magic of the dance department and the show …  is the ability to share it with the community. It’s very reciprocal.”

Several first-time dancers have reflected positively on their experiences leading up to the concert.

“Everyone when you first get in there is kind of nervous. But once everyone starts dancing, after a couple weeks, everyone is really comfortable,” said Jack Selig ’23.  “And they have a great time.”

“It’s a really good way to try to get out of your comfort zone and push yourself emotionally,” said Tess Huckaby ’22, a student in Making Dances. “I’ve really enjoyed the class, I’m really happy that I took it.

Combining several genres of dance, the concert will feature work from a variety of courses including Afro-Modern II, Introduction to Caribbean Dances and Cultures and Introduction and Advanced Modern Dance, as well as Making Dances and Improvisation and Partnering, two classes that allow students to explore the creation of their own dances.

The December Dance Concert will take place in Pickard Theater on December 6 and 7 at 7:30 p.m..

The next week, students in Professor of Theater Davis Robinson’s directing class will be presenting their semester’s work to the college community.

“I’m excited to see everyone else’s [projects],” said directing student Fiona Carey ’20. “I think we all have a sense of what our projects are like, but for most of the people in the class I haven’t actually seen the finished product.”

The course first studies theories of dramatic structure and the strategic communication required for directing. In the second half of the semester, students choose their own 10-minute scene to direct from a play of their choice.

“It’s a very critical thinking exercise in terms of how to tell the story they want to tell because some of these plays are pretty complicated.” said Robinson. “But on a practical level, they’ve got to be organized, they’ve got to get their people together, they’ve got to get them off book [and] they’ve got to rehearse.”

The directing projects introduce many students to the theater and dance department, Robinson explained. Each piece requires a number of actors, allowing students to try acting with the department without committing to a full-staged production.

Wayne Harding ’21 said that the class has allowed him to experience and experiment with  another side of theater. Being in charge of an entire performance can be a challenge, he explained, but it also creates the opportunity for a more fully realized creative process.

“As a director, you should know the whole play to see how that dictates the things you do in each scene. And then … you have to develop all the bits and pieces of the puzzle to develop that jumping point for your actors to get in and start tweaking and filling your vision,” he said.

The directing projects will be presented in Pickard Theater on December 9 and 10 at 7:30 p.m..

“It’s like a quick tour of what’s going on in the world these days on stage,” said Robinson. “You get ideas that are worth entertaining, that give you something to think about.”

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