Spring Dance Concert Showcases Student Choreographers

This past weekend, the Bates Dance Company presented the Spring Dance Concert in Schaeffer Theatre. All four performances of the concert featured choreography by students in the Bates Dance Department’s Dance Composition course and Advanced Composition Seminar. Additionally, dance majors Yesul Lee ’19, Claire Sickenger ’19, and Sara Hollenberg ’19 choreographed for and/or performed pieces in the concert in partial fulfillment of their senior theses. All pieces were performed by a mix of student dancers, student choreographers, and other dancers. Additionally, a piece was choreographed by faculty member Kate Marchessault.

This year’s Spring Dance Concert showcased the refined talent, hard work, and passion of Bates choreographers and dancers. Pieces ranged from ballet to jazz, lyrical, modern, and hip-hop-focused. Some works even included spoken interludes from the choreographers and dancers themselves; others combined humor with movement. The concert itself was put on in collaboration with students in other courses: the Theater Department’s Lighting Design class designed lights for the performance and music for a selection of the pieces was composed by students in the Music Department’s Computers, Music, and the Arts course.

Due to the wide breadth of choreographers, the Spring Dance Concert was performed in two programs. Pieces in Program A were performed on Friday, March 29th and Sunday, March 31st, and pieces in Program B were performed on Saturday, March 30th, and Monday, April 1st. Program A featured choreography by Kellie Allen ’21, Mickai Mercer ’19, Elisabeth Gwydir ’20, Isa Barrangos ’19, Erick Gredonia ’21, and Esme Goldfinger ’21. Program B featured choreography by Ellie Friends ’21, Kate Marchessault, Flannery Black-Ingersoll ’19, Sydney Anderson ’20, and Helen Carr ’21. The three senior thesis works were performed in both programs.

Standout dance pieces included work choreographed by Gredonia, Gwydir, and Hollenberg. Gredonia’s piece, titled “False Dichotomy” featured dancers Emily Bowen ’19, Sofia Esquibies ’21, Eliza Tilbor, and Darwin Silfa ’21. The quartet arrived on the Schaeffer stage looking as though they were traversing through a desert. This image was complemented by the group’s costumes: the dancers wore loose, beige, brown, or camel-colored shirts with neutral colored slacks. Although each dancer donned their specific uniform, Gredonia’s choreography allowed Bowen, Espuibies, Tilbor, and Silfa to shine individually. The piece was dynamic, explosive, in-sync, and affecting; dancers ran, shouted, jumped, punched, and took the audience on quite a powerful journey. Gredonia’s extraordinary talent was matched by student lighting designer Goldfinger, whose choreography was also featured in the concert.

Gwydir’s piece “contact, just go” featured Flannery Black-Ingersoll ’19, Rebecca Howard ’19, and Gwydir herself. Gwydir’s choreography was bubbly, enthusiastic, and lively. The piece juxtaposed each dancer’s elegant movement technique with a hearty dose of humor: amidst fluid movement, Gwydir, Black-Ingersoll, and Howard made outlandish faces, exuded exaggerated emotions, and interacted with a set of three small stools. Gwydir’s piece was a joy to watch and offered vital, polished comedic relief amidst other more serious, heart-wrenching works. Erin Lyons’ ’21 lighting design also added to the work’s whimsy; the cluster of dancers appeared as a ball of light moving across the rest of the mostly obscured stage.

Hollenberg’s “Lots 20, 22, 24, & 26 – Dune Road” closed out the Program A performance and was the most ballet and lyrical-focused focused piece of both programs. Surrounded by set pieces resembling house frames and lighting designed by faculty member Michael Reidy, the six dancers, Allen, Rowan Cutler ’21, Michelle Desjarlais ’22, Howard, and Hollenberg herself created a spring-like atmosphere in adorably coordinated costumes (designed by faculty member B. Christine McDowell). Hollenberg’s choreography was youthful and light; each of the dancers floated across the stage effortlessly.

The Spring Dance Concert has increasingly become a space for Bates’ student choreographers and dancers to explore movement, express themselves physically, and make a statement. This year’s installment certainly did not disappoint.