The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Author: Riley Hopkins (Page 1 of 10)

The Crown: Love, Lust, and Tainted Happiness

No spoilers here, I promise, but The Crown has brilliantly transformed the history of the most powerful monarchy in the world into entertainment. The Netflix original released its second season in December with promises of heightened drama surrounding the Royal Family from the beginning of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign in 1953 until now. In addition to the elegant costumes and stunning filmography, the show accurately depicts historical figures and events within the walls of the Buckingham Palace; education through entertainment, if you will.

When watching the show, I often forgot that the characters and scandals were not fictional. The real Queen Elizabeth II actually faced the political and marital obstacles dramatized in the series, which makes The Crown that much more compelling. It makes me wonder if Her Majesty approves of this exploitation of her early personal life or finds it to be an inaccurate representation.

One of the most salient themes throughout the show is the unhappiness associated with being a member of the Royal Family. It is revealed that Queen Elizabeth II, portrayed by Claire Foy, dreaded being forced into her coronation after the sudden death of her father, King George VI. Foy is a master of subtle emoting. She expresses constant sadness in her eyes at just the right intensity in the scenes where The Queen’s royal status is emphasized, drawing a tight connection between royalty and sorrow. It is evident from the beginning of season one that the Royal Family resents being gifted with the divine rights of the monarchy.

Unsurprisingly, the most dramatized aspect of the Royal Family’s history is the lust and love between the characters. Season two starts off with the prospect of Prince Philip’s infidelity. The marriage between The Queen and Prince Philip has been illustrated as tainted since season 1 when Philip throws a tantrum about bowing down to his wife at her coronation. He is constantly brushing her off and upset about walking behind her wherever they go. In season two, he is sent off on a six-month tour and rumors of a love affair bubble to the surface, thrusting a wedge in his marriage to The Queen. Their relationship remains tense throughout the show, with glimpses of true affection for each other. Again, the sadness and inauthenticity that lie on the throne are unexpected, yet enthralling. Not all that glitters is gold, I guess.

Princess Margaret, The Queen’s sister, has quite the rebellious and atypical personality for a member of the Royal Family. To me, she is the most fascinating character because she has been screwed over by the rules of the monarchy more than anyone, especially when it comes to her love life. She knows she will never be the sovereign, so she is always bitter about abiding to the societal expectations of a princess. She gets drunk until the late morning hours, sleeps until noon every day, and is unapologetic about expressing her sexuality – quite the opposite from her sister.

In season one, Margaret falls in love with a man she knows she cannot marry, yet requests permission to do so from The Queen anyway, only to be swiftly disregarded. Her heart breaks man after man and she spirals into her own inescapable hell, all because of the rules of her role. However, she clearly enjoys her title, privileges, and rank far more than her sister. She is defiant, yet a prisoner of the throne who indulges in the palace parties. Her romantic status is jolted in season two when she meets a photographer and eventually marries him but is blind to his secret, active sex life outside of their relationship. Princess Margaret demands our sympathy and is the perfect tool for entertainment.

Season three is sure to deliver just as much drama as the first two seasons. It will take place two decades after the end of season two, so the cast will be completely different in order to accurately represent the aging of the characters. Rumor has it that Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange, anyone?) will be playing Princess Margaret. If that’s not enough to draw you in, I don’t know what is.

 

Cafe LA: The best tasting hole-in-the-wall

Over winter break, I had the pleasure of experiencing a quaint, hidden cafe in Auburn. As an avid cafe lover, and lover of all things food, finding this cute small restaurant was the best thing that could have happened to me that Wednesday. Located on the bottom floor of the public library along Spring St., down a small ramp and (on that particular day) a few steps past a sheet of ice, the doors to Cafe LA invite you with an implication of hot roasted coffee and homemade bread just inside.

For some reason, I never know how to behave when walking into a new building – especially a restaurant. Do we seat ourselves? Where is the bathroom? Can we ask for a table by the window? These are the things I worry about. Since the cafe is so small, there was only one or two people working, and the waitress who approached us was very welcoming (and yeah, we got the window table). If I were to compare it to Bates’ favorite cafe, Forage, I would say Cafe LA has less of a homey, crunchy vibe to it but maintains the same great service. There were no homemade bagels or board games, but it was still a success. The exposed brick walls seemed to absorb the tables and countertops into one, giving the true sense of being almost underground while still keeping it contemporary.

Another stressor I endure in a new restaurant is the menu. I get so overwhelmed by menus that require me to flip multiple pages just to get to the section that offers entrees with fries on the side (because let us be real, no one considers food a meal unless there are some sort of fried potatoes on the side). Although Cafe LA’s menu was simple, it offered a diverse array of options. Everything from breakfast sandwiches and vegan wraps to grilled sandwiches and homemade soup was available; it was clear that this place cared about what they are putting on the tables and took the time to do it the right way.

I settled on the grilled chicken sandwich on homemade sourdough bread. The sandwich was made up of pulled chicken, mozzarella cheese, red onions, tomato, pesto, and chipotle mayo that ended up being a little too spicy for my sensitive taste buds. It was the perfect size for my brunch/early lunch appetite. That is probably what I liked most about my experience – I left feeling totally content, not too full, not still hungry and with no complaints. And the bathroom was super nice with a cool hand dryer but a pretty complicated door handle and lock.

Overall, I was very satisfied with my visit to Cafe LA and I know it will not be the last. The Lewiston-Auburn community has so many hidden treasures that offer culture, conversation, and experience. It is only a five-minute drive from campus if you hit all the red lights, so do not be a fool – go there. You will not regret it. Oh, they also cater.

 

Passengers: When will you succumb to loneliness?

Futuristic sci-fi is not the first genre I search for when going to the movie theater. However, every once in awhile there will be one film that catches my attention and truly impresses and entertains me. Perhaps it was Chris Pratt (whose movie characters always starkly contrast his iconic portrayal of Andy Dwyer in Parks and Recreation) and the ever versatile Jennifer Lawrence. Whatever the case, Passengers brilliantly highlighted Pratt’s and Lawrence’s acting talent while portraying a unique story.

Set years in the future, the human race has developed the technology to send waves of people aboard the spaceship Avalon to colonize a new world on the planet Homestead II. The catch? It takes 120 years to get there. All 5,000 passengers are placed in individual hibernation pods where they are kept alive but their physical development is halted, ultimately allowing them to wake up 120 years later in the same condition as the beginning of the voyage. When the Avalon is hit by a meteor shower, one hibernation pod is activated – Jim Preston’s (played by Pratt).

The worst part is that he has been awoken 90 years too soon.

With his only friend being an emotionless robotic bartender named Arthur, Preston must face the reality of his eternal loneliness. That is until fellow passenger Aurora Lane, played by Lawrence, is awoken just a couple years later.

As anticipated, the two fall madly in love and thoroughly enjoy their solitude on the Avalon. But alas, it is not long until the ship suffers malfunction after malfunction. It is up to the couple to take action and save themselves and all 4,998 sleeping passengers on board.

What impresses me most about the film is how just two characters can carry the plot without fail. Like I said, I am not usually attracted to sci-fi movies because I get bored of them pretty easily, so this was an extra-successful storyline in my opinion. It reminded me of how Cast Away managed to convey its plot so effortlessly with only a single character.

What Passengers and Cast Away have in common, besides their small casts, is the central theme of navigating loneliness. Loneliness is something we have all experienced yet strive to avoid. However, there is such distinction between being alone as an individual and being alone with another person. This movie made me question if we are ever truly alone. In Cast Away Tom Hanks’ character created Wilson out of an inanimate object while Preston and Lane in Passengers at least had each other. This added a layer of drama, love, lust, and overall a more complex expression of entertainment.

The whole time I was watching the movie, I kept imagining myself in their shoes, alone on a spaceship knowing that no one else would wake up for 90 years. Even though the movie was blatantly fictional, the concept of loneliness it projected was scarily realistic.

Futuristic sci-fi is not the first genre I search through when going to the movie theater. Honestly though, I am going to watch it again after writing this.

 

Bates favorite Tall Heights brings life to VCS

Aside from the chai and cookies, the best part about Village Club Series is listening to original music for an evening every single Thursday. This semester’s performance roster has truly been stacked – from Ryanhood, to Elizabeth Acevedo, to the incredible student artists and now Tall Heights. On Thursday, December 1, the Mays Center welcomed an overwhelming student turnout to see this popular group perform.

Tall Heights always attracts a large crowd, but I was unprepared for the sea of Batesies I walked into when I opened the doors. I got there a little late, so there was no chance of grabbing a chair, wall space or even a good glimpse of the stage. Despite this, the chill atmosphere was tangible. The dim lighting and casual set-up of the space created an intimate and inviting environment. I think it goes without saying that VCS effectively rids me of work stress, especially with finals right around the corner.

Cellist Tim Harrington and guitarist Paul Wright were accompanied by a drummer. In between their songs, Harrington and Wright developed close connections to the audience; they shared their awkward yet warm personalities and told stories they have gathered throughout their time on tour. Getting the Bates students to chuckle certainly does not hurt their reputation here.

Several of the songs they performed were from their newest album Neptune, released in August of this year. The songs consisted of multi-leveled harmonies that varied in range. The vocal ranges of the artists were truly magnified throughout the night. What was most striking, however, was how they transformed their usual acoustic vibe to a more technical foundation, epitomizing the VCS experience.

The song “Two Blue Eyes” was a perfect example of this. Not only did they show off their vocal skills, but lyrics like “I fell in love with two blue eyes and that’s you,” melted the hearts of those listening, a feat not unusual for Tall Heights. There was a perfect balance of electric and acoustic mastery. The entirety of the song had a steady tempo that was easy to digest yet captured attention the whole time.

“Spirit Cold” is an easy listen, at least for me, because it did not project thematic ideas of love or heartbreak. The gradual buildup of tempo and energy creates a climax around the third chorus but then dies back down for the end of the song. They discuss the cycle of gain and loss of spirit and dreams. All of their originals carry an aura that appeals to Bates students and brings them back year after year. No matter the content of their songs, their music is always transformative and innovative.

VCS next week includes a faculty and staff showcase featuring Professor John Smedley from the Environmental Studies Department, Assistant Professor Ali Akhtar in the Classical and Medieval Studies Department and Associated Chaplain Sruli Dresdner. Each faculty member will perform for about 20 minutes. Smedley and Akhtar will be playing the guitar and Dresdner will bring the accordion to the stage. This is definitely something you will want to go to for the last VCS of the semester!

Tim Harrington and Paul Wright stun the audience at VCS with their original music. DREW PERLMUTTER/THE BATES STUDENT

Tim Harrington and Paul Wright stun the audience at VCS with their original music. DREW PERLMUTTER/THE BATES STUDENT

The Pillowman Preview

I have always liked to walk into plays that I have never heard about. There is something magical about entering a completely new world; you’ve read no previews, no guides, no scripts, no cast, no title. More often than not, I recommend doing that.

Unfortunately, we can’t always just jump in and allow ourselves to experience something new. Batesies know very well that finals week is approaching fast, so here is the incentive you needed to watch The Pillowman this weekend (Dec 8-12, tickets recommended).

One hour before the show starts you will probably find yourself pondering: “should I really watch The Pillowman or should I study for [include random final exam]?” I can say with a fair amount of certainty that you would be better off by watching The Pillowman. If you choose not to watch it and you are anything like me, you will spend your time procrastinating rather than studying. Little you know, but you would have missed a great show.

The plot is acclaimed. The Pillowman won the Laurence Oliver Award for Best New Play in 2004. Martin McDonagh, author of The Pillowman, is known for having an explosive and violent writing style. He is considered one of the best Irish playwrights alive. “You think you figured it out and then everything changes… This happens every 15 minutes in this play” – A friend from theater tech mentioned in an informal conversation about the show.

This first impression is just as to be expected given that the director is Samuel Wheeler ’17. I have the pleasure to have Sam as a friend and he is a very talented performer, actor and director. He has a very peculiar taste and I can only expect the unexpected when it comes down to The Pillowman.

In an interview, Wheeler told me he fell in love with the Irish dark comedy and storytelling during his semester abroad in Dublin, Ireland. His fascination with The Pillowman is evident in his words: “Everybody loves stories. My favorite thing about stories like The Pillowman is that even in their gruesomeness, there is still beauty.” Wheeler also revealed that, although it is a dark and profound show, it is also hilarious.

One thing that surprised me very much is how little people were willing to reveal about the actual plot. “A writer in a totalitarian state is brought in for questioning about the linkage of his gruesome short stories to child murders that have been occurring. That’s the basic premise of the show without giving many secrets away,” Wheeler told me in interview. All I know is that it will be heavy, intense and complex. I have heard rumors of an amazing soundtrack as well. As I started to ask more and more questions about the play, everyone told me the same: “I don’t want to ruin it for you. You got to take your own conclusions when you see it.”

It strikes me that Wheeler and McDonagh have similar goals. I read some articles and interviews on McDonagh’s writing process. When he was describing his creation process for another play to The Guardian, he mentioned that he “had to find the story and let the issues just bubble underneath.” Wheeler, in our conversation, mentioned that “allowing the audience to pull what they want and directing it in such a fashion where it does not spoon-feeding the audience was a goal from the start.” If there is one thing I am sure is that Wheeler and McDonagh interested in taking complexity to another level. Art can be beautiful and gruesome, bittersweet, warm and dark… all at the same time. The Pillowman seems to be the kind of play in which it is impossible not to be excited.

This next weekend, I invite you to expect the unexpected with me at Gannett Theater. I challenge you to see theater differently: theater can be your break from “study,” but “study” can also be your break from theater. Art has a transformative potential that should not be overlooked. The playwright is described as having “a punk spirit” by The Guardian. But truly, I got my cue when Sam Wheeler and I crossed paths by chance one day. Even though he was visibly excited about the show, all he said was that The Pillowman was going to be incredibly deep… Sometimes a play can reveal much more about humanity, life and justice than a dozen textbooks combined. You must see it for yourself.

 

Largest group of studio art majors shows promising thesis work

This year is a particularly exciting one for the Art and Visual Culture Department; with 17 seniors, it is the largest class of Studio Art majors that Bates has seen yet. As a Studio Art thesis occupies both semesters and Bates is a rather rich community for the arts, I could not wait until the Annual Senior Exhibition to see what is being produced. In an attempt to satisfy all of our curiosities, I met with four seniors, Hannah Tardie, Calvin Reedy, Mary Schwalbe and Alyssa Dole, to talk about their bodies of work.

As a double major in Studio Art and English, Tardie incorporates poetry into her installation work. The fact that the “female body has been excluded from literature as a thing that has a brain and can be autonomous, smart and creative, [and that] art, just in its basic, formal elements is based off of being a man” has inspired her to craft feminine objects. And while Tardie draws on a contradiction in her work, noting that, on one hand, creating representation of women is important, on the other it is “ridiculous … like why is my body being feminized.” Pushing past this feminist puzzle of representing without necessitating or objectifying, Tardie is well on her way to creating an extremely successful body of work that is neither an autobiography nor a representation of the female experience, “because there is no one female experience.”

In a similar vein, photographer Reedy is focusing on creating a new kind of representation for black men. “Growing up in America, especially as a Black person surrounded by white people, is going to make your race salient to you, it’s always been something that I’ve had in my life.” Frustrated with a narrow representation of Black roles, Reedy wanted to make a series depicting what black men are normally not seen as: intimate, loving and vulnerable. Painting their cheeks with real gold, the photographer “adds connotations of worth and value, while also referencing the idea of price and the Transatlantic slave trade that exploited the Black body to build wealth.” Having successfully captured the Black man “with a certain agency that is often taken away from us,” Reedy has an exciting semester ahead, filled with refining his already powerful series and finding methods of presentation that will emphasize the impactful experience for viewers.

Schwalbe continues in this direction with her project; while her work looks at the experience of being a woman, she focuses on what is beautiful and grotesque. Having spent a lot of time in Philosophy and English courses thinking about beauty standards and the syntax involved, Schwalbe thinks that “beauty is something terrifying.” To her, beauty is more raw than what is messaged through pop culture and is more easily found in a medical textbook. Growing up in a medical household and looking at depictions of chronic diseases inspired the artist to explore the relationship between beauty, weight and illness. “Historically, women in painting are pale and frail and have consumption–tuberculosis was viewed as a beautiful way to die.” Disturbed by thinking about how disease can be beautiful, Schwalbe’s exploratory phase of her painting series is focused on how “there really is a historical context for women suffering separately and silently.”

Dole, whose consideration of representation also inspired her work, uses documentary photography to give people a voice. In a Humans of New York style, Dole photographs and interviews members of the Lewiston-Auburn community. Curious about the different views of life that different people may have, Dole originally wanted to portray new Mainers. Soon finding difficulties in accessing such a specific population, the “process first semester was very much revolved around learning what worked well… now that I’ve figured that out, I feel confident going forward that I can produce more photographs of higher quality.” Though it depends on what people are comfortable with sharing, Dole hopes to present the final portraits with the subjects’ stories; “everyone has such unique stories,” and while portraiture is complete in itself, the background adds a touch that makes it deal more with individuals.

Though the seniors that I spoke to seem to all be in different phases of their production, what has been produced thus far is impressive. For more of a sneak peak, the incomplete work of all 17 students is hanging on the wall of the second floor in Olin.

 

Sarah Juli and Claire Porter return to the dance studios with their newest duet

Expression plays a large role in Juli and Porter’s work. GRANT HALVERSON/COURTESY PHOTO

Expression plays a large role in Juli and Porter’s work. GRANT HALVERSON/COURTESY PHOTO

“Short Stories” relies heavily on humor. GRANT HALVERSON/COURTESY PHOTO

“Short Stories” relies heavily on humor. GRANT HALVERSON/COURTESY PHOTO

It started in caps and gowns. They both stood at the podium whispering to each other, waiting to begin. “Are you wearing deodorant? I don’t think you’re wearing deodorant.” “I never wear deodorant.” They begin their commencement addresses at the same time at the podium, eliciting immediate laughter from us in the audience. They stop. Back up. Begin again, this time with more aggression and larger gestures. They repeat this a third time, before their simultaneous speeches morph into a costume change. This time, they take turns walking downstage on the runway in different articles of clothing, including a foam finger, asking different variations of “Does this clash?”

Sara Juli and Claire Porter are known for their comedic artistry. Juli, a Maine-based solo artist and Porter, from New Jersey, were first paired together by the American Dance Festival (ADF) a couple years ago and commissioned to present a duet based on anything. To dance artists, this sort of prompt is insidious. The piece they made for ADF was titled “Short Stories” where they were dressed in large, simple ball gowns, sneakers, and red underpants that were exposed later in the piece. In this piece, they told segments of everyday happenings that, when coupled with gestural movements, created a powerful sense of humor that drove the piece to success. The underlying message was that the small things in life can lead to something bigger. Now, they are at it again and came to the Marcy Plavin Dance Studios on campus to workshop their newest duet.

On Friday, November 11, they held an informal showing where several dance students were able to watch and give feedback on the 20 minutes of material they have already made. The two women did not tell us what they thought the piece was about and left the interpretation open to us. As the piece evolved, a sense of competition surfaced via vocal comments and physical gestures. At one point, Juli grabbed two pompoms and performed a cheer to the famous “Be Aggressive” but incorporated suggestions of how to be polite such as “accept the water” and “maintain eye contact.” As it turns out, Juli researched rules on how to succeed in an interview and her cheer consisted of the tips she found online.

In the runway section, Juli mentioned that they were inspired by her seven year old’s recent desire to dress herself, despite the clashing patterns. Juli said that this made her realize that a child’s identity is in part shaped by the clothes they choose to wear. From then on, she has let her daughter dress herself for school everyday.

The dual commencement addresses opened the piece and raised the question of “are they the same person?” insisting a sense of internal competition and criticism that could be translated throughout the whole piece. This is especially apparent in the next section where the two women are sitting in folding chairs going back and forth with suggestions, as if it were a first date gone wrong. Juli would say, “Well, I thought you would have paid the bill” and Porter would reply with “Well, I thought you would have done your hair” and so on and so forth, all the while they were inching closer and closer to each other in the chairs.

The piece raised several questions of gender, rule-breaking, societal expectations and the relationship between the dancers. Were they the same person exposing internal criticism? Were they mother and daughter? Was this about the expectations others have for female behavior? How important is it to follow social rules? None of these questions could be answered by Juli and Porter just yet, as they are in the very beginning stages of their choreographic process. However, I am certain these inquiries, among others, will be illuminated more and more along the way as the piece morphs and develops. These two women gave us an inside look of what is certain to be yet another hilariously realistic piece of art.

 

Westworld: When does consciousness intersect artificial intelligence

With six of Game of Thrones’ eight seasons now behind us, the question of the influence it is had on television is becoming more and more ripe for the asking. In many ways, Westworld – the new HBO show filling GoT’s timeslot until season seven begins – is the simultaneously enthralling and frustrating answer to that question. Game of Thrones and Westworld share a lot in common, including their composer and the way they tell their stories. That is both a good thing and a bad thing.

Westworld centers around a near-future Wild West-themed amusement park populated by nearly-human robots called hosts. Think the Frontierland section of Disneyworld, except that instead of Mickey Mouse greeting you at the gates, it is an attractive young man named Teddy who will help you find nearby bandits for a good bounty hunt. Once in the park, guests can pretty much do whatever they want with only minimal consequences: guests can be hurt but not killed by hosts, freeing them up to do essentially anything they desire.

Without saying too much about the plot (this is the kind of show where you really should not do that), Westworld follows several park administrators, maintenance workers, hosts and guests as the park’s creator, Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins), plans an update to the narratives and host behaviors in the park. Long story short, things get strange when some hosts in the park, including a simulation of a young woman named Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), begin behaving strangely, exhibiting signs of cognition outside the parameters set by their creator. At its core, the question Westworld asks is an ontological one: what does it mean to be conscious or sentient?

Considering the age we live in, this question is crucial. We interact more and more with artificial intelligence in our daily lives, and Westworld wonders at the point of delineation at which those intelligences cease to be artificial. This thought, of humanity having created something it can no longer control, is enough to keep me interested in Westworld, just as it was for films like Ex Machina or Her. But that does not mean Westworld is without its problems.

If your main gripe with Game of Thrones is the flurry of storylines unfurling in a number of separate locations, then you should know that Westworld is little different. Between park workers, hosts and guests, there are lots of perspectives from which to tell this story. As a result, Westworld jumps around a lot, which can get a little annoying when some scenes or stories are clearly written with significantly less care than others. At times, the show’s dialogue is quite strong; any conversation between Dolores and Jeffrey Wright’s Bernard (a human in charge of overseeing host behavior) is sure to be as interesting as it is chilling. At others, the dialogue is almost unbearably cringe-worthy; I had to take a five minute break while watching last week’s episode when one character said the line “you are a butcher and that is all you’ll ever be.”

Another issue I have with Westworld is that, halfway through the show’s first season, it has asked a lot more questions than it has been willing to answer. Five episodes in, we have a sense that something is going on, but that something never seems to get much closer. For instance, viewers have known about “The Maze” from the first week, but we are still waiting for characters to find the entrance. We have the sense that Ford is up to something, but we are no closer to figuring out what that is than we were five weeks ago. Westworld is setting up all these big finishes without giving us the information we need to remain invested in how the characters get there.

And yet, these problems have not yet stopped Westworld from being a great show worthy of your time. The show has the next few weeks to sort these problems out, and I am hopeful that that will happen, if only because the notion of this show going one full season without providing any payoff from any of its “something-strange-is-afoot” narratives would constitute a true waste of my time. Besides, there is still a lot to like about this show: the soundtrack is engaging, the themes are well worth pondering, the acting is good when the script isn’t holding the actors back and Westworld is as well-shot as any television show I have seen. Whether it can overcome its inconsistent writing remains to be seen, but until then, I would say Westworld is more than worth a look.

 

Bates dancers “promote the value of the arts” in the Lewiston-Auburn community

To say that Bates students are passionate about community engagement is an understatement. Many take part in classroom help in the local middle school or one of the several elementary schools near campus either during the day or after school. However, not much has been done about integrating dance into these interactions between Bates students and elementary/middle school students. Mallory Cohen ’17 and Shae Gwydir ’20 are two members of the Bates dance community expanding their passions for movement and teaching into the Lewiston-Auburn community.

Cohen, a Sociology and Dance double major, designed and launched this program last year after a summer internship with Urbanity Dance in Boston, a non-profit contemporary dance company that also partners with the Boston Public Schools, community health centers, community housing developments, juvenile detention centers and the local population with Parkinson’s disease, just to name a few of their relationships. For this internship, Cohen was responsible for writing dance curriculum and teaching numerous classes in several different communities in the Boston area. She said it made her “recognize that arts education is something really valuable that all children should have access to as it aids so much in cognitive, emotional, social and physical development.” On a more selfish note, she said, “It also completely brings me life to be teaching movement and engaging with children who are really benefitting from it, so it seemed obvious to bring with me back to Lewiston, for myself and for the community.”

Cohen received grants from the Harward Center for supplies to enhance her classes here in Lewiston in addition to building steady partnerships. Now, her position is a part of the Community Outreach Fellowships which will solidify her work and allow it to grow and continue in the future.

Along with Cohen, Gwydir has also found her work as a dance teacher to be extremely fulfilling. The two of them, along with others, teach multiple classes per week at the YWCA. The preschool classes run during the day as part of their physical education class and focus not on technique, but on the idea that “movement is a way to communicate with our bodies instead of our mouths in order to learn how to express ourselves in a more dynamic way,” says Cohen. To foster this creativity, they play with different themes, such as animals or superheroes. The elementary school kids participate in dance classes later in the afternoon. Cohen and Gwydir offer them modern/contemporary/ballet classes or a fusion of hip-hop/funk/jazz classes. Cohen said, “In these classes we mainly teach technique in a fun, creative and engaging way through the lens of promoting self-confidence, comfort with one’s own body, self-love and using dance as a healthy physical outlet.”

Gwydir is currently taking an education class and needs 30 hours of fieldwork, which is how she got involved with teaching in the first place. However, expresses how much she has been benefitting from this experience in more ways than just receiving credit. She noted how the immense social improvement among the elementary school students has truly made her work worthwhile. “For the first two weeks, one of the girls would stretch and then go hide and cry in the corner and no matter what we did we couldn’t get her out. Only her mom could take her outside. This is the fifth or sixth week now and last week she had a beaming smile on her face the whole time and was dancing with her friends. So there is definitely improvement.” She also noticed how the boys, who usually do not want anything to do with dance, are breaking the “gender expectations” and actually having a great time in class.

For Gwydir, this teaching these kids has provided her with just as many rewards as it has the students. “This is the one time during the week when I can completely shut my brain off to anything happening at Bates. You have to give all of your attention to the kids.”

Both Cohen and Gwydir are seeing huge transformations that translate to applications in their everyday lives and behaviors; this is true for both the students and the teachers. The power of arts education is truly at work here. After graduation, Cohen plans on attending graduate school for Dance/Movement Therapy which will directly align with her current work of fostering personal growth and promoting the value of the arts.

 

Screenwriter Jason Hellerman comes to campus with “Shovel Buddies” and exposes “harsh realities” of the film industry

The Rhetoric Department has done a fantastic job bringing screenwriters and new films to campus to give students a look into the film industry. On Wednesday, November 2, Jason Hellerman brought his film, “Shovel Buddies,” to the Filene Room to talk to Bates students about life as a screenwriter, which happens to be not-so easy. The film itself is about a group of friends who join forces to fulfill the last request of their friend who passed away.

The event on campus served as an important networking space for students interested in a career in this field. They were able to ask questions about the film and screenwriting in general during a discussion following the screening. Laura Pietropaoli ’17 attended the event and said, “Listening to Jason talk about the harsh realities of working in the Hollywood film industry was simultaneously eye-opening and frustrating. Making commercially successful films is a complicated business, and sometimes executives make decisions that are geared more toward monetary progress than social progress.”

Jason Hellerman discusses life in the film industry. DREW PERLMUTTER/THE BATES STUDENT

Jason Hellerman discusses life in the film industry. DREW PERLMUTTER/THE BATES STUDENT

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