Last night, the Department of Theater and Dance showcased its annual Spring Dance Concert in Pickard Theater. 

The show, which runs a little over an hour long, has five acts. Three acts are performed by 100, 200, and 300-level dance classes, two of which are modern classes; one will feature work by Natalie Johnson ’13, and one will be performed solo by Assistant Professor of Theater and Dance Charlotte Griffin. Griffin’s performance will be only the second faculty solo in four years.

Johnson’s act will exhibit two parts of her three-part independent study project, titled AGEN. Johnson’s independent study is yearlong and AGEN premiered April 29 at the Wish Theater. The first part of her act is a solo performed by Johnson, with the second part being a trio performed by Audrey Blood ’13, George Ellzey ’13, and Emily Bungert ’15, choreographed by Johnson.

“It’s a capstone to the semester,” said Johnson. “It signifies the culmination of a lot of work.”

In her time at Bowdoin, Johnson has had quite an impact on the dancing community. 

“I think of all four years I’ve been here, there’s only been one show I haven’t been in,” said Johnson. 

In the last three department shows, Johnson has had her original work performed.
“Presenting my own work is important,” she said.

After graduating, Johnson will enter a two-year certificate program at the Peridance Center in New York City.

The other solo act, performed by Griffin, is the result of a 30-day-long collaboration with a composer in Shanghai. For one month, Griffin and the composer, Milica Paranosic, exchanged audio and video clips to collaborate on her piece. Next year, Griffin will be going on sabbatical to focus on her work.

Aside from Johnson and Griffin’s projects, the show is primarily coursework. The performances are a culmination of a semester’s worth of work for each of the three classes.

The first act is performed by Modern 112, taught by Paul Sarvis, theater and dance chair. 

Interwoven throughout the piece is a live video feed of the dancers, projected on a large screen in the back of the stage.

“We want to attract some students into taking classes,” said Sarvis. 

This magic may have been at work in the case of Zina Kinslow ’13, who took her last dance class her freshman year with Sarvis. Kinslow works as an usher for music shows held at Pickard and has been to most of the department’s shows.

“It’s mostly boys who are in the class,” said Kinslow. “I think it’s a VPA think and a senior thing.”
While Sarvis’ class is intro-level, there is a mix of student ability in the group.

“Some of them are definitely students who have danced before,” said Kinslow, “but some are also new dancers and they come together really well.”

One first-timer is Isabelle Franks ’14, also in the intro modern class.

“I had never taken a dance class before, and I thought this was a good time to do it,” said Franks.

 Franks ends the class’ piece with a solo, slowly walking across the stage as her face is projected behind her.

Nyama McCarthy-Brown, who next year will officially become a visiting professor at the College, choreographed the routine for the intermediate jazz class, which performs two pieces.

“It’s the first time a jazz class is performing,” noted Johnson.

The final course performance comes from the advanced modern repertory class, whose six students include Johnson and Ellzey. Though the piece at large is choreographed by Professor Gwyneth Jones, each member also performs a solo which he or she personally choreographed, and assisted in choreography in doubles and trios as well.

Sarvis and students hope that the variety of the show will make it appealing to a wider audience who may not attend a concert that was solely modern or jazz.

“Having an hour-long program is a plus,” said Sarvis. “You’re not gonna be stuck there all night. It’s going to be short and exciting.”

The show usually draws large audiences from the student body and the greater Brunswick community at large.

“Students and community members come every year because it’s free,” said Sarvis. “There is not a lot of live dance performance in Maine, so people travel far and wide.”

On Thursday, the house was almost packed.

“It’s going to be really good,” said Sarvis, “with an exclamation point.”

There will be performances of the concert tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m.