The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

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On Getting Through Your Final Semester…

Primarily and above all else: keep calm. Don’t get caught up in how many days you have left to get a job, find an apartment, and emotionally process the enormous change you’re about to experience. Unless having a countdown app on your phone will motivate you in a strictly positive and rewarding way, don’t grant yourself that sort of information on a constant basis.

If (and when) time feels like it’s slipping through your fingers by the second and you convince yourself that you’ve already failed, remember nothing bad, disastrous, unfixable has actually happened. You haven’t wasted time or missed any deadlines yet. And I use “yet” to signal the reality that life is both unpredictable and ever-changing. Of course you’ll hit bumps in the road, you’ll be forced to re-route, you’ll make sharp left turns and be brought to places and situations you would’ve never considered before– you might exclusively utilize driving metaphors when discussing the future. And amidst all the spontaneity, you’ll adapt. You’ll accrue experiences that will equip you to to become comfortable with, and maybe even expect, a moderate amount of change. You’ll see new challenges as opportunities to grow and your personal evolution will be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

That being the case, become comfortable with the unknown. Securing your first post-grad position is tough! I should know, I’m currently trying to do so. Unless you’re already a successful expert in the industry in which you’re applying, you’ll have to learn to trust the process. Sure, it would be easier if we all received a magical letter offering us a full-time position and housing immediately upon graduation. But the beauty in maturing and entering this new stage of our lives is that we, for the first time, don’t know what comes next. Don’t expect the worst and don’t expect it to all be perfect. Expect that you’ll learn, change, and grow, allowing you to flourish into a tougher, more worldly version of yourself.

For some of us, the knowledge that our future plans are so certainly uncertain is both a deterrent for motivation and a catalyst for hopelessness; a fast-track to “why even apply to this fellowship if they probably won’t even look at my resume?” Questions like that will drop you headfirst into a vat of darkness and unproductivity. So, keep busy. Job boards and LinkedIn searches will provide you with a vast amount of potential applications and you might feel overwhelmed. That’s par for the course! Make a list of the positions that interest you, and then create a schedule to help plan when you’ll apply for them.

Become an active participant in your own job search; strategize. Do the extra work for applications that will feel like an accomplishment in and of themselves, throw your resume in the hat for the internship that you think you have a shot at getting. Don’t wait on the sidelines of your own life because you don’t know how things will turn out. Find a balance, and get to work.

But… don’t lose your sanity. Don’t spend every waking minute looking for jobs, checking your email, and feeling discouraged. Know when it’s time to shut your computer or talk to a friend about how mind-boggling this whole process can be. Productivity comes in multiplicitous forms: doing work for classes in which you’re currently enrolled is productive, giving your all to extracurriculars and enjoying yourself is productive, and making lasting friendships and relationships is productive. Relate to each other; time won’t speed up or slow down once we’ve graduated. Be here, now.

Appreciate the life you’ve shaped for yourself. Bask in the glory of knowing that a few years ago, you had no idea how you’d make it through 8 semesters, countless essays and tests, finals weeks, and a least one thesis all while navigating the trials and tribulations of making friends and finding your people. You’ve done it all once. You’ll be able to find your place again.

Meditating on and writing about transitioning into post-grad life assuages the fears and anxieties that reside in the nooks and crannies of my psyche. Check in on your friends, ask professors for guidance, and don’t lose faith that everything will turn out just fine. Treat this semester as a victory lap, not as a disastrous and frazzled ending.

Motivation with Maru

Hullo hullo my feisty friends! How goes it? I hope this fresh installment of MWM finds you well and warm whenever and wherever you’re reading this, and that the new semester is being good to you thus far! In this shpeel I’m going to dish out some tips for starting the new year on a high note here at Bates:

Want to start going to the gym Monday, Wednesday, and Friday but haven’t worked it into your schedule yet? Want to get a jumpstart on your fieldwork for your Education class but haven’t gotten in touch with your host teacher yet? THE TIME IS NOW. Stop dreaming and start DOING!

  • “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” – Mark Twain… a fan-freaking-tabulous quote to help motivate you! If you have a looming deadline or responsibility, jump in head first to get it under your belt ASAP!
  • Have a fitness/nutrition/wellness New Year’s resolution that you haven’t started tackling yet? The time IS now! Think of this goal or resolution as if it were a mountain: you have to start the climb sometime soon in order to reach the top!
  • Think BIG in order to hype yourself up! When you sit down to grind out some textbook reading or to cross-train instead of practicing with your team, think of mood-boosting quotes that are on the sillier side of things, such as “LET’S GET THIS BREAD” or “FULL SEND, BOIIIII” to make the situation more positive and fun! The “grind” is as difficult and/or negative as you make it. If you put out groovy and glowing energy thou shall receive the same in return!

Wishing y’all the best of luck with the new semester, take care of yourself and GO FOR IT! It’s 2019, the world is our oyster!

            All my love,

                Maru

A Skin Care Routine To Find Balance

Have you ever had a flare up of hand, foot, and mouth disease? Have you ever gotten a fever that manifests in a full body rash? Have you ever gotten impetigo on your left butt cheek? Have you ever gotten a rash on your inner thighs from drastic temperature changes, or gotten sunburn so severe that your stomach turned purple? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then we should totally be friends. Because let me tell you, I can relate…to all of it.

My skin is a total anomaly. While I am someone who is severely prone to rashes of all sorts and quite allergic to the sun, I have also been blessed with incredibly clear skin. Pimples on my face are few and far between, and I am not someone who has had to expend much energy on skincare maintenance. I am one of those crazy people who fall asleep with makeup on my face. Ridiculous, I know.

For the longest time my skin care routine consisted of using drug store face wash in the shower followed by drug store moisturizer. It was plain, easy, and efficient. Since I have always had pretty good skin, I never saw a reason to change the simplicity of my routine. However, at the beginning of this year when school work started to pile up and my thesis felt like it was drowning me, I decided I needed to find another type of self care, in addition to exercise, that I could do on my own which would provide me with the type of TLC I needed. Skin care was a type of self-care I had never really explored. I was curious to see the how the benefits a solid skincare routine would affect not only my skin, but also the way I felt about myself. Lets get to it, shall we?

The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is use a Neutrogena makeup remover toilette to wipe off any remaining mascara that I may have missed — or just neglected to take off — the night before. I use the ones specifically made for sensitive skin because they cause the least amount of irritation after each use.

After, I have recently started using Thayer’s Natural Remedies Witch Hazel Toner. I have really grown to like it. I simply pour some of the toner onto a cotton pad and then gently rub it all over my face to remove any excess dirt. I have found that the toner makes my skin insanely soft and leaves me feeling super refreshed and awake.

After the toner, I use Olehenriksen Truth Serum, which came highly recommended to me by one of my closest friends. The serum uses vitamin C to brighten and hydrate your skin; if I’m being honest, it just feels so good when you put it on. As a next step, I use either the Olehenriksen Sheer Transformation Perfecting Moisturizer or Ponds Dry Skin Cream to make sure my skin is as hydrated as possible, because, as you can imagine, living in the tundra that is Maine can make anyone’s skin brutally dry. I finish it all up by putting Aquaphor on my lips and continue to do so about every hour of the day. Some might even say I’m obsessed.

Overall, I have found that when I really make time to take care of my skin, I feel a lot cleaner, healthier, and just more put together in general. I highly recommend finding a self-care routine that is affordable and works for you because, in my experience, I have found that self-care is a critical component for feeling both good and ready to take on all of life’s challenges.

“Into The Spider-verse Swings To Success”

*Massive spoilers for the Spider-Man continuity in general and specifically Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse.*

If you’re anything like me, you asked yourself “Really, Spider-Ham?” when you first saw announcements for Spider-Man: Into The Spider-verse. We’ve had six Spider-Man centric films in the past fifteen years featuring three different Spider-Men, not to mention the Spider-Man ensemble role in other Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. We know the story of friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man, we know that “with great power comes great responsibility.” Uncle Ben’s dead, that’s sad. Gwen Stacy’s dead, that’s sadder. We don’t need another Peter Parker, or Peter Porker for that matter. So, why is Sony Animation giving us one?

Maybe you’re not that into superhero movies, or maybe you just dismissed it as a children’s movie. My point is: you should see this film. It knows you are well aware of the Spider-Man story. In fact, that’s half the fun of it!

The film never misses a chance to poke fun at the amount of Spider-Men you’ve seen, but trust me, you haven’t seen them quite like this. It features characters from multiple universes that have inherited the classic spidey powers: Peter Parker, Miles Morales, Gwen Stacy, Peter B. Parker, the other Peter Parker, Peter Porker, and Peni Parker. The Spider-verse was first introduced as a long-running comic storyline in 2015 and a lot of the characters are drawn from its run. Even characters I was convinced had never existed before (like Spider-Noir and Spider-Ham) have actually been around for a while!

In the film, Miles Morales is bit by a radioactive spider and develops insane abilities like sticking to walls (and Gwen’s hair). He goes back to the site where he was bitten and stumbles across his universe’s Peter Parker battling the Green Goblin. Peter attempts to stop Kingpin from opening a dimension portal to bring back his wife and son, who left after learning about his criminal empire and died. The portal is successfully opened and closed, and plans are made for a grand reopening. Peter promises to teach Miles the ropes and gives him a flash drive capable of destroying the portal. He sends Miles out of harm’s way before being killed by Kingpin. Miles goes to visit Peter’s grave to tell him he is taking on the mantle where he runs into Peter B. Parker, another universe’s Spider-Man. Miles and Peter B. Parker are forced to team up and stop Kingpin and get the original Peter– and everyone else– home.

To those of you who view this as a more childish/family flick, you’re not entirely wrong. It definitely earns the title of acceptable for younger audiences. Miles and Gwen are teenagers, after all. Miles is shown struggling with cliché teenager problems– new schools, fitting in, parental relationships, and identity. Because he’s the protagonist, these issues are hit hardest; however, Peter B. Parker’s more “adult” problems are addressed just as frequently. This Peter is recently divorced (and handling it great) because he wasn’t sure he wanted kids, though his ex-wife Mary Jane did. But in my view, the real heart of the film rests at the core of each spider-powered hero: no matter how hard or how often they are hit, they always get back up. The film sends a great message to younger kids, but it’s also an important message adults need to hear from time to time.

Into The Spider-Verse is also an animated film, but it’s unlike anything I’ve seen before, making it a well-deserved winner of last week’s Golden Globe. The film is computer-animated, but it is meant to look like comic book art brought to life. Sony describes the animation techniques as “revolutionary,” combining computer and 2D animation with comic book drawing techniques. They strongly encourage viewers to see it in 3D in order for the experience to really feel like you’ve slipped into your favorite Marvel comic. I felt immersed in a comic after seeing it in 2D, too. Everyone has their own special animation style: Spider-Ham is traditional cartoon, Spider-Noir is completely black and white, Peni is straight out of an anime, and Gwen’s look is pulled directly from her comic line. The film shoawcases a beautiful mesh of styles and designs that work seamlessly to show the divisions between the worlds and create distinctive characters.

Long-story short, this film is worth seeing at least once for its beautiful animation, witty script, and relatable characters for those of all ages. Plus, come on, John Mulaney as a talking pig? Nicholas Cage as a black-and-white Nazi crime fighter? What more do you need?

Chilling Adventures Mixes Horror with High School Camp

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is the newest Netflix show from Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, writer and executive producer of Glee and Riverdale. Fans of his work will be thrilled: Chilling Adventures is arguably his best series yet. The show is centered on Sabrina Spellman, a “half human-half witch” teenager who lives in the fictional town of Greendale, which is supposedly across the river from Riverdale, with her two aunts Hilda and Zelda and her cousin Ambrose.

Led by the spellbinding Kiernan Shipka, the show is a darker retelling of the Archie comic character made famous by Melissa Joan Hart. Gone is the quirky 90s Sabrina who uses magic to change her clothes or pull pranks at school. Instead, Shipka’s Sabrina, as a half-witch, must deal with the consequences of belonging to two distinct worlds at once. While that sounds like a coming-of-age story done over and over again, Aguirre-Sacasa presents a genuinely fresh take on it.

The show opens on Sabrina’s birthday, on Halloween no less. We discover that it is tradition on a witch’s 16th birthday that they must undertake a “Dark Baptism”… meaning the witch must give over their soul to “Lord Satan.” The problem for Sabrina, though, is that she doesn’t really find that concept entirely appealing: she is afraid not only of the moral implications of losing her humanity, but also the tangible ones. By selling her soul, she would lose access to most of the mortal world, her friends, and, more importantly, her boyfriend Harvey Kinkle (played by former Disney star, Ross Lynch). On the other hand, by clinging on to her humanity, Sabrina puts her friends and family in danger from the shadowy, patriarchal Church of Satan.

The character of Sabrina is fierce and rebellious, and the story wonderfully incorporates themes of female empowerment, misogyny, and sexism better that most other young adult shows I’ve seen. The ensemble cast is diverse and includes wonderful queer and POC representation and develops its social justice message without ever making it feel forced. The world of Greendale, both mythical and mortal, is captivating. The series really shines in its ability to build and entire world. This strong suit can be attributed to Aguirre-Sacasa’s background in horror and the supernatural; Chilling Adventures takes a lot of inspiration from classic satanic horror movies like Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist.

While serious and even scary at times, the show has a dark humor and a fantastic ensemble of memorable characters that makes it incredibly fun to watch. The deeper the series begins to explore the more fantastical and dark-sided qualities of Greendale, the deeper the audience wants to go as well.

While the contrasting stories are both well executed, I found the duality of the series– it being both a teenage drama and an all-out horror romp– is also where the show is at its weakest. The horror isn’t as well done as other Netflix shows like Stranger Things and Black Mirror and the special effects used are surprisingly subpar for a high-billed show such as this. The horror scenes are fun but are often short-lived and are dispersed with high-school B stories ranging from Sabrina and her friends trying to start a club at her school or reporting a set of bullies to the principal. The show’s pacing is awkward especially in the middle of episodes; I found myself becoming increasingly bored by Sabrina’s mortal friends and their high school drama as the intrigue was escalating in the witching world. It’s hard to empathize with Sabrina’s initial disgust with the witches and the Church of Satan when the scenes involving the witching world are the high points of each episode. Luckily, this low point is partially alleviated near the end of the series when the two worlds begin to collide. Overall, I found that I still really enjoyed the series even with its minor pitfalls. “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” is worth a watch, or marathon, especially if you’re a fan of Aguirre-Sacasa’s other works (and even if you’re not). The story is well written and doesn’t suffer from the need for excessive drama or twists that plagued the later seasons of Glee and even Riverdale.  I recommend keeping an eye of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, the quality and caliber of the show can only going to improve with coming seasons.

Sandglass’s Babylon Holds a Mirror to Refugee Crisis

On Friday and Saturday evening, Bates welcomed the Sandglass Theater Company from Putney, Vermont to campus. The theater group performed their piece Babylon, Journeys of Refugees in the Gannett Theater in Pettigrew Hall. The piece was incredibly moving: it gave the audience an intimate understanding of the actors and actresses of the company as well as what it is like to be a refugee coming to America. Among the cast was Bates alum Kela K. Ching ‘18.

The artistic rendition began with a game of trivia to introduce the audience to the cast members. Through the game, we learned intimate facts ranging from who in the cast has a masters degree to whose family had at one point been on food stamps. Opening with such a personal and intimate look at the cast allowed the audience to create a strong connection between themselves and the theater group members. From that connection, the cast transitioned into creating a relationship between themselves and the characters shown in the play.

    The performance of Babylon itself focused on the stories of four separate refugee stories: a single man, man with his young daughter, a single woman, and a young man, all of whom were attempting to leave their homeland to seek asylum in America. Through the use of puppets and the hand painted machines called crankies, we saw heartbreak as a young boy from El Salvador and the single man from Saudi Arabia with a masters degree in computer science are denied access into the United States. We also saw relief as the man and his young daughter, as well as the single woman, are accepted into the country.

    The use of multiple mediums of performance allowed the audience to form a stronger relationship with the characters in the play. Handmade puppets allowed the audience to see the journeys many of them faced and the wear and tear that their bodies, just like those of the puppets, experienced. Crankies are long, illustrated scrolls, wound onto two spools that are loaded into a box with a viewing screen. They are hand-cranked while the story is told and as a result, the audience better understands the landscape of the places many refugees are attempting to escape from and the environments in which many refugees live when attempting to seek asylum in America. Alongside the hand created mediums, the actors and actresses featured kept the audience captivated for the entirety of the play. After the show, the theater group sat down with the audience and answered questions about why they chose to create the piece and what inspirationed its inception. The group worked with the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program, where they were able to meet with refugees and hear their stories. One of the actresses recalled sitting in a resettled woman refugee’s home and hearing about how she escaped her country after state sponsored violence allowed for a situation in which a man came into her home and shot at her and her family. The actress expressed her surprise at how easily the woman was able to accept new people into her home, and even call the actress ‘daughter’, after experiencing such a horrific event.     Although the stories told in the play were fictional, each was created through intense research by the group in order to ensure they portrayed an experience not uncommon for most refugees. The piece was incredibly moving to watch and allowed for a greater understanding of a topic so passionately debated in our current political climate

What Can I Do with an English Major?

Even at liberal arts colleges, a common source of contention is the utility of an English Major in light of a future career. There is an element of fear associated with the pursuit of the major, especially if one does not aim to be a tenured professor. However, the good news is the culture of liberal arts colleges is spreading fast and creating opportunity for majors in the humanities.

English majors are constantly asked whether we want to teach literature or become a bestselling author. Often times, both are true. But when teaching or a novelist career isn’t among our ambitions, how portable is the major?

The list of potential careers ranges from writing to business, and everything in between. For domestic students, securing internships in varied fields is an easy task–career exploration suffices as reason enough to pursue any position. For international students, Bates requires official proof that an internship is directly related to the student’s major field. In my view, almost any career field, be it expressive or analytical, is directly related to the English major. Proving this on paper, though, is not as simple.

Marketing is popular among students from most academic disciplines and English is no exception. But, can I enter a marketing job or internship with an English degree? Most likely, yes. Yet, international students would hesitate to agree with that view more than domestic students. Expressing intangible reasons as a tangible argument is key for your average English major, but describing how understanding the psychology of consumerism is related to understanding Shakespeare’s plot lines is not as direct a link as may be necessary.

Education and counselling are also common fields among English majors. What if one prefers administration or social work to teaching? Is it possible to justify how a class on Irish poetry is directly related to working closely with departments that manage student life? How do English classes qualify one to study to be a licensed counsellor? I believe a class on poetry can be related to nearly anything in the professional or social field.

It is this mindset that makes the English major suitable for almost any career. The only problem is that most of the reasons that make English truly versatile are intangible. They often relate to abstract concepts of empathy and curiosity, both of which are not skills that are easily transferable on paper as Microsoft or computer programming. However, these same abstract reasons can be easily justifiable if the listed major is Psychology.

What baffles me is that if students from two separate academic disciplines can express the same reasons for pursuing a particular career and often times develop the required skill sets for that career, then why should the hurdles for one be higher than for the other? I can be an English major and be equally skilled in data analysis as a student studying STEM, yet my justification for wanting to work at a technology firm has a greater chance of being denied.

As quoted by the Bates website, the goal of a Liberal Arts education is “to educate the whole person.” Every class is geared to develop critical thinking, creativity, and curiosity. The goals of the Bates curriculum mean that regardless of one’s choice of major, students leave college sufficiently equipped with the skills needed to pursue a career that overlaps among disciplines. Why, then, must I justify how or why a particular major is portable in a specific field? Each academic major, including English is good enough for whichever career one chooses to pursue.

 

Skin Care Routine of the Week: A Skin Care Routine for Wannabe Beauty Gurus

The hours I spent as a teeanger (so, up until last year) indulging myself in the world of YouTube “beauty gurus” is what inspired my love and, I’ll admit, small obsession for skincare. All those years ago, I would say my routine out loud as I put each product on my face before bed each night to pay homage to my YouTube beauty idols. I thought Zoella would be proud.

Although my love for watching videos like, “What I got for Christmas 2010- LOTS OF BATH AND BODY WORKS!!” and “Everyday Natural Makeup Look for Eighth Grade: Show Your Crush What They are Missing” has dwindled ever so slightly, these videos fostered my obsession with skincare products.

Skincare, dare I say it, is my vice. I believe my obsession will ultimately cause me to declare bankruptcy or my future partner to inevitably leave me. However, my affinity does signify that I am fully qualified to give skincare advice and let you know what I am loving at the moment. My fourteen year old self would be so proud. Mama, I’ve made it!

The way I prepare for my skincare routine is the way most people would prepare for coitus. First, I light my Walmart candle, in the scent Fresh Balsam. I then dim the lights After my room feels cozy and slightly risque, I may begin.

The first product I use is Neutrogena Oil-Free Daily Moisturizer (with SPF 15) from Target all over my face. I especially focus on my neck because, according to our lord, Zoella, it is important to always moisturize your neck to avoid premature aging. This moisturizer is my go-to because, as someone who has combination skin, the thin formula moisturizes without leaving my skin feeling greasy.

Next, I use my Garnier SkinActive Soothing Facial Mist with Rose Water. Say that in a French accent to make it sound bougier than it actually is, because it’s from Target. I hold the mist about 5 inches away from my face and douse myself with 3 or 4 hearty sprays. Full disclosure, I am not sure how beneficial this product really is. But, it smells really good and the act of spraying rose water all over my face makes me feel more important than I really am. I would imagine this product is how Beyonce got her good looks and talent.

After the unnecessarily bougie face mist, I bust out the Yes to Cucumbers Soothing Eye Gel. I like this product because it is cooling to bring down the puffiness under my eyes and wake me up in the morning. I have had the same bottle of the gel for about a year and a half and I still have a lot left, so it is definitely worth the $13.29 I paid at Target. Although, I could very well be rubbing expired gel all over my eyes… that explains the pink eye!

Finally, because my lips tend to get fairly dry, I end the routine with the bougiest installment yet: the Agave Lip Mask in Clear from Bite Beauty. I love this stuff because it is incredibly moisturizing but does not leave your lips feeling sticky. Bite Beauty is the store in which you can create your own custom lipsticks. Fun fact: I bought the lip mask on a visit to Bite, which was my birthday present when I was a senior in high school. The same bottle has lasted me up until now, so I would say it is worth the pricey $26 it retails for. That being said, I am not one to endorse expensive makeup or skincare products because I truly believe that you can find products that work just as well at any drugstore. So, I am trying to find a cheaper dupe for this lip product to endorse. I’ll report back, dear reader.

Voila! Thus concludes my completed skincare routine. I will be the first to admit that I value my routine more than I should, but having a consistent, daily routine that I actually enjoy doing and makes me feel put together. It’s almost therapeutic for me.

I’ll leave you with this: never stop (lip)masking your problems with skincare!

 

McQueen’s “Widows” Cinematically Showcases Excruciation

From full-frontal male nudity to unabridged torture scenes, director Steve McQueen has always had a penchant for shocking his audiences. His greatest skill consists of lingering, or even zooming in, on those excruciating moments from which other directors would be inclined to quickly pan away. However, it takes two to tango: such moments require actors proficient enough to handle the stress of McQueen’s persistent lens. “Widows,” his first directorial effort since 2013’s “12 Years a Slave,” which won an Oscar for Best Picture, has many such moments and many such actors.

For example, take one of the film’s shots: following a fatal car crash, a driver sits squashed against the steering wheel as if against a pillow, his eyes bulging and the horn indefinitely whining into the night. Most other directors would skip forward to the plot-specific ramifications of such a crash, but for McQueen, doing so would mean missing out on an unforgettable moment.

Viola Davis, who plays one of the widows, has already received a good deal of Oscar buzz for her starring role and it’s easy to see why; the sheer number of lengthy close-ups she suffers through over the course of the film would cause many other great actors to keel under pressure.

It all reminds me of a critique a New Yorker writer leveled against McQueen some years ago: “[He] assumes that showing scenes in which unpleasant things happen is enough to make a quasi-tragic drama.” Isn’t it, though? If any director can convince me that a good film doesn’t need any substance beyond the aesthetic delivery of unpleasant moments, it’s McQueen.

Perhaps more than any of McQueen’s previous features, “Widows” has a plot to back up its shock value. Or rather, multiple plots. Truth be told, “Widows” really is two films masquerading as one. Taking center stage is the heist thriller, wherein three widows must perform a high-profile robbery planned but never effectuated by their late husbands. In my opinion, the aforementioned is the better of the two plots because the leading ladies are engaging and the thesis is clear: in a world dominated by corrupt and misogynistic men, an independent woman has no alternative but to claw her way to the top if she wants to be successful. Nobody can be trusted and mercy is a hindrance.

The second of the two plots tracks the political race for an alderman seat and is a dismal affair. It relishes its task of peeling back the layers of American politics to reveal each one to be more stygian than the last. To the watcher’s dismay, there are no widows here and no feminine energy to offset the film’s onslaught of cutthroat men. The resulting hopelessness conjures up more comparisons to 1940s film noir than to modern day thrillers. There are no good guys here—only guys, all of whom are bad.

The eponymous protagonists are “Widows’” only wellsprings of hope and such a feminist message is certainly worthy of applause. In the film’s dark and all too realistic world, a man’s hand on a woman’s shoulder is less a caress than a power play, an unfriendly reminder of who’s in charge. The most telling exchange of the entire film comes when one of the widows is out on a date at a nice restaurant with a very wealthy man. Stupefied by his expectation that she’ll repay him for the dinner with sexual favors, she asks, “Is everything a transaction to you?” His response—”That’s the way the world works”—cuts to the core.

To be successful in today’s capitalist society, one must be as avaricious, libidinous, and guarded as the men who rule it. A cynical message to say the least, but there’s a silver lining; perhaps today’s capitalist society isn’t as inexorable as we sometimes make it out to be. Change is possible, and as “Widows” reminds us, it starts with putting more women in power.

 

Hayes Searches for the Unexpected

“The Set of Circumstances” is in partial fulfillment of Hayes’ dance thesis.

Hayes, who performed her thesis, “The Set of Circumstances,” this past month.

Hayes and fellow dancers in “The Set of Circumstances” rehearse.

As we chatted outside the lobby of Schaeffer theatre, senior and dance major Johanna Hayes greeted fellow dancers as they rushed to and from rehearsal. She reflected on choreographing her thesis, which was “a huge experiment.”

“If it was successful or not, I’m not really sure yet,” she confessed.

Hayes’ senior dance thesis, “Words into Action: An investigation of dance practice as tool to implement social theory” is partially fulfilled by “The Set of Circumstances,” which was performed Nov. 14 and 15 in Gannett Theatre. The performance featured Sydney Anderson ’20, Helen Carr ’21, Esme Goldfinger ’21, Flannery Black-Ingersoll ’19, Rebecca Howard ’19, Elizabeth Wellington ’20, and Hayes herself. In her program note, Hayes introduced her work as a piece that “is about and also that is.” When we spoke, she described that the “main driving force” of her thesis was a technique Hayes learned in Spain this past summer from performer and dance-maker Laura Aris.

Hayes is a recipient of the Phillips Fellowship, a program centered around offering Bates students unique opportunities and experiences in global learning. Throughout her Phillips Fellowship experience, Hayes traveled across Europe to attend and dance with four different programs in Germany, Spain, and Austria. Reminiscing on her summer, she explained that the experience taught her that “there’s so much going on in the dance world…Dance is seen as a vehicle for so many different things.”

It was in Spain that Hayes encountered Aris’ “mechanics plus situation” movement structure. Hayes described the concept as a two-step process: “you define a physical mechanic and then you add a situation to it.” A particular mechanic in dance might be pouring one’s weight onto a fellow dancer; a corresponding situation might be that the two dancers interacting have a caring and loving relationship. Or, the corresponding situation might be a relationship defined by discomfort, or even malice. The richness of the structure is seeing how different situations affect the initial mechanic. Prior to performing her thesis, Hayes and the cast illustrated the structure for audience members.

In choreographing “The Set of Circumstances,” Hayes was interested in exploring physical risk and emotion in “real time.” “How can we create situations that happen onstage that aren’t choreographed?” The choreographer further explained that she strives to incorporate tasks that one can “fail at” to discover the subsequent consequences of real time risk through movement exploration.

Hayes explained that her experimental and unfettered choreographic structure is a departure from some of the pieces she created as a teenager. “Music is a motivating force for a lot of young dancers.” Now, the dance-maker said that when choreographing, she delves into questions regarding the power of the body and, in relation to Aris’ technique, the motivation of movement.

Hayes’ work and experimentation absolutely paid off: “The Set of Circumstances” was effortlessly dynamic. The connection among the seven dancers felt authentic; they moved in sync amidst seemingly unplanned physical and audible interruptions. Hayes’ desired themes were quite clear, her choreography as manifested by the cast explored the relationship between community and the individual and challenged audience members to evaluate collective experience.

Hayes’ presence within the group also added to the piece’s truthfulness. “The Set of Circumstances” was much more than a performance; it was a milestone in Hayes’ dance career. “There’s no way I could isolate myself from my whole life of dancing. Everywhere I’ve been has lead up to this moment; every little bit of training is in my body somehow.”

When I asked Hayes about the storyline or message she hopes to send through the work, she explained “there’s a narrative there, but it’s unspoken.”

“Dance is a lot like a song,” she continued. The meaning is ever-changing, but regardless of its dynamism, “it makes you feel.”

 

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