Maine is definitely not the first state that comes to mind when we talk about dance. New York, California and the Midwest might be on the list, but perhaps not Maine. The annual F.A.B. (Franco And Bates) performance, however, exemplifies just how prevalent dance is in Maine and how much all artists here value collaboration. Held at the Franco Center for Heritage and the Performing Arts on Cedar Street in Lewiston, F.A.B celebrated its eleventh dance showcase on Saturday, February 6.
What makes this event so special is how involved the Bates community is with both Lewiston and the rest of Maine’s arts communities. The contribution Bates makes is directly illustrated by the production crew and the performers in the show. Carol Dilley, Chair of Theater and Dance Departments, serves as Artistic Director of the show. Hannah Miller ’14, currently serving as the administrative assistant for the Dance, Theater, and Rhetoric departments, was the Producer and Stage Manager of the show. Maya Cates-Carney ’16 operated the lights and Laura Pietropaoli ’17 served as the Assistant Stage Manager. With half of the production staff being represented by members of the Bates Dance Department, the arts community has a clear presence in this show.
The performance consisted of fifteen pieces by artists who have some tie to Maine. Mary Anne Bodnar ’16 opened the show with her senior Dance thesis solo, “Sparkle,” that she presented in the Fall Dance Concert on campus in December. The sound score for her piece is comprised of excerpts from Aziz Ansari Live! At Madison Square Garden, Cutting and Women Who Kill. Bodnar uses these pieces of stand-up comedy to reveal the harsh reality behind the humorous presentation of what these comedians are talking about.
The next piece was performed by members of Portland Youth Dance and choreographed by Dante Brown, the Artistic Director of Dante Brown Warehouse Dance in Brooklyn, NY. Brown was a visiting professor at Bates last year, and he set a piece on members of the Bates Modern Dance Company last semester during a two-week residency.
Laura Peterson, a current visiting professor in the Dance Department, performed a highly physical and athletic solo entitled “get up.” She was continuously knocked down and beaten by her own physicality, yet she fought the challenges and channeled her own physical, technical and mental strength.
Another piece by a Bates Dance member, “Last Chance to Get It Right,” was choreographed and performed by Kristen Stake and visiting professor Melinda Buckwalter. They put emphasis on live electronic music and the use of random paraphernalia such as a mini fan, silly string, glitter, party banners and bubbles. It was an extremely unconventional way to perform a piece, yet it will be one to be remembered because of it.
Jorge Piccole ’18 performed a hip-hop solo, “Don’t Forget,” where he presented choreography produced in the Bates studios. Piccole is also making another group piece in the Dance Composition class where he will choreograph on several other students throughout the semester. He will present the piece at the Spring Dance Concert in April.
One piece that stood out the most was performed by Claire Porter and Sara Juli titled “SMALL STORIES.” Resulting from a collaboration between the two artists, they created and rehearsed it at Bates and performed it at the American Dance Festival this past summer. Juli set a piece on Bates dancers last fall during a two-week residency where she facilitated the creation of textual content in her piece. Both Porter and Juli work heavily with minimal “dance” movement and put emphasis on talking, pedestrian gestures, unnatural sounds and expression of the general human experience. In this piece, for example, the two women were dressed in ball gowns and sneakers as they told short stories throughout the whole piece. In doing so, they created an ingenious composition on the stage. Their stories matched up with their movements and sounds, making associations with certain gestures. At one point, Juli told a story of how she needed to wear red underwear. Towards the end of the piece, the artists simultaneously lifted up their gaudy ball gowns to reveal matching red underwear. Overall, the piece was hilarious, entertaining and brilliantly crafted.
F.A.B. was a compilation of the best of what Maine’s dance community has to offer. This performance brought all of the biggest names in dance together on the same stage to show just how intertwined every dance relationship is, and Bates is right in the middle of it all.