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Bowdoin dance returns to motion on campus

September 10, 2021

Amira Oguntoyinbo
Dancing into the Fall Dance programming and classes are returning in person on campus for the first time in over a year.

Dancers at Bowdoin are getting back on their feet, in person, after a year of virtual rehearsals and Zoom classes. Along with classes and programming within the dance department, 12 student dance groups are beginning to meet in-person this semester.

During the 2020-2021 academic year, Arabesque, a student ballet group, offered biweekly Zoom classes for students. These classes were open to students of all experience and skill levels. According to Isabel Petropoulos ’23, co-leader of Arabesque, the group will continue to offer a weekly open class on Zoom this semester.

“Having the addition of Zoom not only included people who are off campus, in quarantine or for any reason  [they] could not be there, but also people who wanted to learn ballet or have a nice workout without having to do that in front of other people,” Petropolous said.

Petropoulos credits the open Zoom classes for attracting members to Arabesque and plans to adopt a hybrid model for club programming.

“Some people who came to Zoom one time realized that they really enjoyed it, and they wanted to come in person,” Petropolous said. “We’re combining elements from what we really liked last year and then also bringing back our pre-COVID programming.”

“This is open to anyone, and we want people with no experience or who really haven’t danced for a while to come,” she said. “All people are completely welcome in that space.”

While dance clubs are just starting to plan their programming for this semester, in-person classes with the dance department are already underway after a year of virtual instruction.

Louise Cummins ’23, who was enrolled in a dance class during the spring 2020 semester, said she had an enriching experience despite the abrupt shift to remote learning.

“It was obviously very challenging, but I admired how [my professor] tried to make the best of it for us, and a lot of the content of that class was bringing in lecturers from many different places,” Cummins said. “I remember those being very meaningful.”

This semester, students now have the opportunity to dance in a studio class alongside their peers while adhering to the College’s safety guidelines, which includes masking and social
distancing indoors.

“We’re also adding extra precautions such as opening windows and doors when dancing inside and taking frequent breaks so students can take off their mask[s] and drink water outside,” Assistant Professor of Dance Aretha Aoki wrote in an email to The Orient. “[These are] little adjustments that we hope will make a difference.”

In the wake of COVID-19, those involved in dance at Bowdoin, including Cummins, have expressed a newfound appreciation for the art.

“Through COVID, I have come to see the importance of dance in a different way,” Cummins said. “I feel like I have creative autonomy in a world that is just shifting sand under our feet and that has gotten to a point of being something that feels very important.”


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