Mary Anne Bodnar ’16 is presenting her own dance work in New York City. Dante Brown Warehouse Dance is holding a company fundraiser for the next creative process. The event features the dance company’s original works and the works of independent artists, including underground hip hop dancers and young artists. Bodnar is invited by Brown to present her work in this event, held in SoHo, New York on December 13th.
Brown was a visiting professor last semester, replacing Professor Rachel Boggia, who was on sabbatical. “I took all the courses Brown taught and developed a very good working relationship with him,” Bodnar said. “He is a great mentor to have and I learn a lot from him – including things about community, being a dancer and choosing a path for profession.” Brown is currently back at Bates as a guest artist, creating a piece with a group of students who are in the Dance Repertory class. Professor Carol Dilley showed Brown an excerpt of Bodnar’s piece she performed during the Back to Bates Dance Show, and Brown in turn offered Bodnar the chance to premiere her piece at his event.
Bodnar has been doing a series of studies on the relationship between music and dance. The piece she performed for the Back to Bates Weekend Dance Show was a product of this process, and she is developing the material for the upcoming showing. She collected sound scores from standup comedians Aziz Ansari, Amy Schumer and Marina Franklin, and transposed their voices into her modern dance movements. “Movement storytelling,” she called it. She collected the narratives that resonated in her, making her laugh the most, and tried to “provide an alternative narrative, showing that these jokes are actually from a darker and potentially sad places.”
Bodnar’s interest in the relationship between sound and dance has developed over years. She confessed that she initially was attracted to the musical forms of dance. Bates, on the other hand, challenged her to refrain from dancing on music, which gave her a new perspective on dance. “But,” Bodnar continued, “I realized that the best tools I have ever used in choreographing were from Liz Lerman’s Dance Exchange Toolbox, assigning movement to words. I also realized that whenever I was watching something that had speech, the most satisfying moment for me was watching the body move and embody their speech patterns. That’s when I thought, ‘I want to see an entire piece with just that.’” Thus, that was what she decided to pursue. “I realized that being an artist is about making things that you want to see on stage, not what I think people want to see,” she said.
On one hand, Bodnar added that she did not make movements based on the words. “I’d generate random movements, come back and fit them into the words. A lot of it was just luck and chance,” Bodnar said. “And it was about expanding those lucky moments.”
She also thanks the many people who supported her throughout the process. She tried to incorporate comments from a wide ranged audience – from her close friends to her casual acquaintances. Bodnar pointed out that her use of the pop culture references was incorporated to make her piece more accessible and understandable. “Just moving feels so empty to me. I always want the audience to understand what it is and why I am doing it.” She pointed at the words of Laura Faure, the director of the Bates Dance Festival, who told her,”Dance should not isolate people.” For Bodnar, dance has been and should be a way to bring people together, understand each other and share time.
This article has been edited because the original version inaccurately cited the director’s comment.