Dancing outdoors and sharing snapshots of quarantined family life, faculty from the Department of Theater and Dance relayed an exuberant and spirited message to the Bowdoin community last week. With 2,500 views and counting, professors starred in a video cover of The Temptations’ 1960s Motown hit “Can’t Get Next To You,” taking a humorous—albeit important—stance on the social distancing measures prompted by the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Chair of the Department of Theater and Dance and Associate Professor of Theater Abigail Killeen thought of the project after faculty met last week to plan their transition to remote learning for the remainder of the semester.
“One of the central themes of our discussion was the serious value of play and how to help students foster joy, especially in difficult circumstances,” Killeen wrote in an email to the Orient. “Very soon afterwards I was out running, and I remembered the Temptations song, ‘Can’t Get Next To You’ and laughed out loud … and then the idea just tumbled out of my brain.”
Killeen first reached out to Senior Lecturer in Dance Performance Gwyneth Jones, and she soon amassed a group of fellow faculty members to take part in the lip sync video.
“I knew our faculty and staff were brave enough to appear foolish for the greater good—a key to creativity,” said Killeen. “It was a lot to ask at a frantic and fearful moment, but we got it done.”
Donning sunglasses and a brimmed hat, Professor of Theater Davis R. Robinson can be seen jamming out on the piano while Assistant Professor of Dance Adanna Kai Jones engages passionately in a solo dance routine. One portion of the video features faculty fervently washing and sanitizing their hands with appearances by several of their children.
Video clips were compiled and edited by Theater and Dance Technology Designer Gregg Carville. Carville works mostly with lighting, audio and video projections in dance and theater productions, but he also has a background in video editing and effects.
“Making the video came out of [our] meeting as a way to continue the sense of community that we have in our department,” Carville said in an email to the Orient. “I had never edited a lip sync before, but it falls in line with many of the skills I have been developing in my time here at Bowdoin.”
Killeen is hopeful that the video will have a unifying impact on the greater Bowdoin community during a time of stress and uncertainty.
“There is a way to be together even while separate,” Killeen said.