This past Saturday and Sunday, Schaeffer Theatre was packed with Bates parents, students, and graduates eager to see performances at the Back to Bates Dance Concert. The show is the first dance and theater production of the year, marking the opening of another academic year for the arts at Bates. The show counted with the participation of students, alumni, and professional performers. According to Johanna Hayes ’19, one of the primordial goals of this dance concert was to depict the dance community at our college. “There is such a wide range of dance artists with all sorts of experience. We as a community want to keep growing this diversity and we’re happy that the Back to Bates Concert is such an open and inclusive showing for anyone that wants to present work,” Hayes said. The concert consisted of a number of different performances including independent studies, club performances, solos, duets, and the yearly first year dance performance as well.

The show as a whole had a fast pace. Performers had two and a half weeks to rehearse. Claire Sickinger ’19 mentioned that despite the challenge time posed, it was impressive to see all pieces coming together so well. Sickinger choreographed and performed a solo Accumulation Study I with an incredible use of motif and repetition. “I was thankful to be expressing myself and to be showing people what I was working on and how excited I was about the academic exploration that went into it. At that moment, I realized how much my confidence has grown since entering the dance program at Bates,” mentioned Sickinger.

One of the biggest advantages of the Back to Bates Dance Concert is the variety of performances that appear in the show. In some ways, it connects students through their common academic interest. In an exchange of emails, Hayes told me that it was fascinating to work with Flannery Black-Ingersoll ’19. “She is a dear friend and a brilliant mind that I am constantly inspired and stimulated by in the creation process.” Hayes and Black-Ingersoll performed One Left, a brilliantly arranged duet about one’s last day on Earth. “We all want great food, great love, sense of self, people to share with, and abandonment of fears,” Hayes explained. The piece had layers of movement, sound and voiceover – emotional responses were inevitable. Having support and people to collaborate with are two fundamental aspects of the arts at Bates, constantly being expanded and sought after.

It was incredible to see various motifs, choreographic styles, musical accompaniment, multimedia choices, and performers. Schaeffer welcomed first-years, returning students, and their families in a great hub of exchange. From the intense Breath Studies by Chaesong Kim ’18 and Divyamaan Sahoo ’17 to the first-year performance My People to Go to, the Back to Bates Dance Concert invites students to engage fully in the liberal arts and explore. This first concert of the year leaves us craving for more, eager to see more from Bates Dance as the year unfolds.