Club Showcase Celebrates Creativity Amid COVID-19

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Katherine Merisotis/The Bates Student

The Ballroom Team performs a swing-style routine choreographed by showcase organizer Emma Bouchey ‘21 (center).

How do you ballroom dance six feet apart? Can you sing in a mask? What does it look like to perform chemical experiments in a pandemic? Questions like these have plagued many of Bates’ clubs this year as pandemic restrictions have made in-person meetings and collaboration difficult.

“This year has been unbelievably tough for everyone,” said Emma Bouchey ‘21, the coordinator of last Saturday’s Club Showcase. “This showcase aims to celebrate our creativity and perseverance we have displayed in reinventing the things we love to fit pandemic restrictions.”

Bouchey served as the event’s virtual emcee — the host — in a pre-recorded video screened in the Olin Concert Hall. She edited together each club’s video submission and introduced the acts to us from her home, grinning and quipping with infectious joy. The event was organized and run by her and the Ballroom Team, who, in a normal year, run both a physical education class and travel to competitions, two things that are not possible in a COVID-19 world.

Their performed piece, entitled Run, Run, Run, featured Bouchey, Mia Bernstein ‘23, and Anna-Sophia Massaro ‘22. In swing style, each performer danced solo in various outdoor locations, ranging from a gazebo to the front steps of Gomes Chapel to the Keigwin Amphitheater. While maybe not quite like the ballroom you grew up watching on “Dancing With The Stars, the elements were clear and performed wonderfully.

Max Younger ‘22 (center) leads The Deansmen through a performance of Rockapella’s “A Change in My Life.” (Katherine Merisotis/The Bates Student)

The Crosstones and the Deansmen both appeared via carefully-edited videos where each member recorded themselves solo, and the tracks were combined together. For the Crosstones, Emme Pike ‘23 led the group in a gorgeous rendition of Maggie Rogers’s “Light On.” Meanwhile, The Deansmen, obviously dressed in their classic tuxedos (for the most part, at least), crooned away to Rockapella’s “A Change In My Life,” led by Max Younger ‘22.

Merimander Joanna Vollrath ‘21, performing solo, rounded out the evening’s musical styling, covering Tom Petty’s “Walls” with her brother and a friend. Their harmonies and tambourine skills were gorgeous, so look out for Vollrath and the rest of the Merimanders as the semester goes on.

If spoken word is your thing, then let me introduce Bates Spitz, a new club on campus “devoted to using creative writing to foster connecting, healing, self-expression, and advocacy,” according to the showcase program. Club members Kama Boswell ‘23, Frances Hart ‘23, Kemunto Ongera ‘23, Lea Rosen ‘23, and Khadeeja Qureshi ‘23 performed their original piece “Word Offensive,” focusing on struggles faced by immigrants and people of color. While somewhat hard to hear at times, due to the members speaking together, the piece got me excited to see what the club gets up to this year.

Bates Spitz performs their original spoken word poem “Word Offensive.” (Katherine Merisotis/The Bates Student)

But this event wasn’t just an arts showcase; it was a club showcase.

Ben Hoffinger ‘22, of the Circus Club, performed a juggling routine entitled “Juggling, with a Hint of Citrus,” in which he did smaller routines featuring oranges, lemons, limes, footballs, and weighted juggling sticks. While juggling three footballs or four lemons and limes is already impressive enough, Hoffinger took his routine one step further. He used a balance board while juggling the sticks, so not only did he have to carefully catch the falling objects, but he also had to stay upright on the board as he did so in an impressive display of coordination and agility.

Rounding out the night was an experiment from the Bates Chemical Society entitled “Elephant Toothpaste.” Basically, the reaction uses warm water and potassium iodide to decompose hydrogen peroxide, resulting in a massive foamy substance that gives off a little bit of gas. It’s one of those extremely satisfying reactions that I could probably watch for hours on end.

Bates Chemical Society performs a reaction entitled “Elephant Toothpaste,” made by decomposing hydrogen peroxide with water and potassium iodide.

If any of these clubs sound exciting to you, fear not! All the clubs that performed in last Saturday’s Club Showcase have shared either information on their club meetings or ways to contact them. 

The a cappella groups plan to hold auditions sometime this winter, so keep an eye on BatesToday and social media for more information. 

Spice up your weekdays with Ballroom on Monday from 8:30-10 p.m. (Zoom) and Wednesday 9-10 p.m. (in-person), and make it a double header with Bates Chemical Society on Wednesday from 8-9 p.m. 

For more information on Circus Club, email bhof[email protected]

For Bates Spitz, try [email protected]. With a new semester just beginning, it is a great time to get out, try something new, and stretch your creativity.