Go to content, skip over navigation


More Pages

Go to content, skip over visible header bar
Home News Features Arts & Entertainment Sports OpinionAbout Contact Advertise

Note about Unsupported Devices:

You seem to be browsing on a screen size, browser, or device that this website cannot support. Some things might look and act a little weird.

Night Hawk brings Edward Hopper to life with performance blending dance, music, visual art

April 26, 2024

Alex Spear
HOPPERS: Juliana Vandermark ’24 and Dylan Richmond ’24 perform with Night Hawk in the BCMA Rotunda.

Last Friday, music was played, dance was performed and art was displayed—all underneath the domed ceiling of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art (BCMA) Rotunda. Student band Night Hawk performed six original songs inspired by Edward Hopper’s paintings in matinee and evening performances, with visual interpretation by dancers Juliana Vandermark ’24 and Dylan Richmond ’24.

The ensemble—led by Colter Adams ’24 and Peyton Semjen ’24 and joined by Layla Rafimayeri ’24, Tara O’Malley ’24 and Courtney Burnett ’26—played across the room from the audience, who sat in chairs arranged in a semicircle. As the music reverberated throughout the airy room, Vandermark and Richmond filled the circular space left in between.

Adams and Semjen, whose band name is taken from the Hopper painting “Nighthawks,” describe some of their songs, such as “Soir Bleu” and “Dust” as “synesthetic pastiches” of the paintings. Others, like “9am,” reflect the aesthetics of the artist’s work. They chose to include dance in the performance, entitled “Edward Hopper Recomposed,” to bring both the songs and the paintings to life.

“I think that the dancing amplifies the music because there are so many lyrics in our songs that are physical and attached to specific imagery in Hopper’s paintings,” Adams said. “A lot of characters in the paintings are frozen in these incredibly expressive poses, and so for the dancers to adapt those poses as just one of hundreds of movements, it makes you feel like you’re watching the paintings come alive, like you’re peering into the other side of the painting.”

Professor of Art Emeritus Mark Wethli wrote in an email to the Orient that he was impressed with how “Edward Hopper Recomposed” captured the emotional tone of the artist’s work.

“As a painter who’s admired Edward Hopper’s work for as long as I can remember, I was thrilled by both their homage to his work and how aptly their music captured the beautiful sense of longing and melancholy that underlie his sun-struck landscapes and interiors,” Wethli said.

The performers also emphasized how the space of the Rotunda and its unique acoustics also became an integral part of the show.

“It worked really well, because we were able to project and utilize the natural reverb in the space to carry the songs out,” Adams said. “The museum space, it was not only the perfect vehicle for our performance, but the only vehicle for this performance, because we were so careful to curate our every move, our every step, our every note to how it would sound in the space.”

Similar to the band’s adaptation to the acoustics, Richmond described how his and Vandermark’s dance reacted to the space.

“Whenever we went in the [Rotunda], we realized our bodies naturally had an inclination to circle each other … or use gestures that went upward. Which also ended up being cool, because in the actual choreography during the performance, I noticed every time I would look up or gesture up, the audience would look up,” Richmond said.

BCMA Co-Director Frank Goodyear made the Rotunda available for “Edward Hopper Recomposed.” The space was most recently home to an exhibition that closed earlier this month featuring an untitled work by American artist Nick van Woert. Arranging for rehearsals in a public and working space like the museum can be challenging, but Goodyear worked to ensure that the performers would have the room available to rehearse and that the art on display would stay safe.

Adams highlighted Goodyear’s help and enthusiasm as an essential part of the project, and Rafimayeri expressed her gratitude as well.

“The museum staff was really nice and accommodating and helpful to us. They would take us all the way through downstairs [to the Rotunda].… [Goodyear] was there for every single rehearsal,” she said.

Hopper’s work also has a presence in the museum’s collection. The BCMA holds both a print by the artist and a self-portrait Hopper sketched when he was 21. Large prints of the paintings which inspired the songs were placed on an easel by Vandermark throughout the show. All the elements of the performance coalesced in what was an immersive and captivating experience for Goodyear.

“I sat there with the program open, reading the lyrics, watching [Richmond] and [Vandermark] and the band, and just was like, this is so remarkable to see: different forms of creative expression coming together to create something bigger than any of its individual parts,” Goodyear said. “And while we’ve done things kind of like this before, this was certainly the most complex performance that we’ve done in the recent past. It was just so beautiful and it was so well attended.”

Alondra Romero ’24 shared Goodyear’s sentiments.

“The artistic representations of the band, Dylan and Juliana’s dance, and Edward Hopper paintings seamlessly worked together to create an all-encompassing experience for the audience,” she wrote in an email to the Orient. “The performance revealed the power and beauty that comes from witnessing art forms in relation to one another.”

Peyton Semjen ’24 and Juliana Vandermark ’24 are members of The Bowdoin Orient.


Before submitting a comment, please review our comment policy. Some key points from the policy:

  • No hate speech, profanity, disrespectful or threatening comments.
  • No personal attacks on reporters.
  • Comments must be under 200 words.
  • You are strongly encouraged to use a real name or identifier ("Class of '92").
  • Any comments made with an email address that does not belong to you will get removed.

One comment:

  1. Jen White says:

    Your article makes me wish that I could’ve seen the performance in person!

Leave a Reply

Any comments that do not follow the policy will not be published.

0/200 words