Every year, the Fall Dance Concert provides a glimpse into the place of dance in our college. This year’s Marcy Plavin Fall Dance Concert demonstrated the importance of this combination, inviting the community to reflect on works that expand the boundaries of dance as a discipline. During the opening, the artistic director for the show, Associate Professor and Director of Dance Rachel Boggia mentioned that the pieces were inspired by questions that emerged during the ’70s and ’80s, when dancers and choreographers applied a new creative eye to the methods of dance. Dedicated to Marcy Plavin, the founder of the Dance Program at Bates, the six pieces in the show took me on an emotional rollercoaster.
“Seed Awakenings on The Eve of Blue (study 2)” by Marlies Yearby was an overload of information. The piece reflected on GMOs and food sources in contemporary society. The piece combined movement, text, and live music on stage. While the piece is visually complex, the messages displayed and sung were morally simplistic by condemning all processed, industrialized food. The complexity of the politics and the very privilege that surrounds the act of selectively eating did not come across in as much depth as I would have expected. Regardless, I am glad that the piece inspired discussions and conversations about the politics of food access across campus, revealing the importance of interdisciplinary modicums to discuss multifaceted issues.
“Son of Gone Fishin’ Restaging Project” by the Trisha Brown Company brought me a feeling of nostalgia. The piece had a blue color palette complemented the diverse movements relationships that emerged across the stage. I experienced this piece as a surfacing of connections that grew in complexity and then were drawn back to simplicity with a marvelously done retrograde. As a beginner dancer, seeing the retrograde section of the dance was an incredible experience – the technically challenging movement was nearly flawless, and I kept engaged by searching for the retrograde portions of the movement.
“Foray Forêt Restaging Project” by the Trisha Brown Dance Company, performed by Riley Hopkins ’18, was one of the highlights of my night. Hopkins danced this physically and intellectually challenging solo as the performance component for his senior thesis in Dance. “My thesis is exploring ‘performance as discovery’ as in discovering the logic of the movement while I’m actually doing it,” Hopkins explained. He also told me that the solo was made around the idea of fluidity and momentum, and their interruption.
On my notebook, the words “softness” and “sensibility” stand out. I had already seen Hopkins perform a number of times, but this piece was unlike any else that I had seen by him. “It was really interesting to learn because it wasn’t made for my body but I had to learn how to adapt to it and embody the movement for a live performance,” he told me. The solo, adapted from a similar piece in the late ’80s, carries some of the key characteristics of Trisha Brown’s postmodern choreography such as the emphasis on the creation process.
“Improvisation,” presented by the Dance 270I class, cracked up the audience multiple times. The confidence of the performers and variation in the movement are beautiful and surprising; the performance was different every night.
“Turning and Other Everyday Objects” by Vanessa Justice demonstrated a few key ideas of postmodern dance, such as everyday movement and abstraction of themes. During the piece, some performers broke the fourth wall and sat in front of the stage, completing everyday activities in slow motion. Other dancers performed a series of quick and visually complex movements, creating a juxtaposition between the upstage and downstage dance qualities. I interpreted everything in this piece as historic; Justice’s piece deftly demonstrated the postmodern movement of the ’70s and ’80s.
“Passing” by Rachel Boggia and Carol Dilley was a thoughtful ending to the concert. Specifically dedicated to Plavin, this piece involves dancers imitating the portrait of Plavin outside the dance studio in Merrill gymnasium. The packed stage full of performers and colors created unique geometric shapes that entwined emotion and movement together. Sometimes, dance conveys messages that would have been impossible to express with words; only those who saw the fluidity of the performers’ movements and their relationship with time can understand the significance of “Passing.”
The combination of critical thinking, dance history, and movement was powerfully present at the Marcy Plavin Fall Dance Concert; it was a fitting homàge to the woman who created the Bates College dance program.