Live from the Festival: Looking Back on Week One

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Image by Jonathan Hsu

Within the first seven days of the Professional Training Program participants had seen two shows in the Schaeffer Theatre, had taken up to twenty dance classes, learned more about zoe|juniper in a show and tell event, participated in massage workshops, master classes, and panel discussions, auditioned for Michael Foley’s gala piece, jammed at the Contact Improvisation jam held by Nancy Stark Smith, and even hung out at the annual “Pants Party,” held by Melody Eggen.

Our daily classes, ranging from modern to ballet to creative process to Caribbean Dance Hall, have been lively and fun. Teachers strive to amplify community, which again and again proves to be a simple task, as students continually step foot in the classroom with that goal in mind. Openness and a willingness to try new things are staples of each classroom, a bolded point on the mutually-agreed-upon-but-never-handed-out syllabus. It is hot and it is sweaty, each space alive with the energy and heat generated in the class before. We are testing boundaries, redefining bravery, and emboldening each other, leaving a deep but fulfilling soreness in our bones, a soreness that makes it hard to sit down at dinner but a soreness that is the driving force bringing us back to class each day reinvigorated and reenergized.

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Image by Jonathan Hsu

Contact builds community, and in this community, physical contact is key. Nancy Stark Smith led a masterful contact jam in Alumni Gym on Wednesday, which will be complimented by a follow up jam this coming Wednesday. At 7:30, participants filled the gym with their energy, and the rules of the space were established. No photos or videos, feel free to take it slow, invest deeply in your partner and the improvisation, you can dance or watch as much as you’d like, and, most importantly, no talking. Voices were absent from the space, amplifying the movement and making the room not quiet and not loud, but very full. Risk taking and human connection were primary, each participant navigating new bodies in a sea of support, both on the marley and off.

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Image by Jonathan Hsu

The traditions begin to reveal themselves during the first week of PTP, taking the form of bonus workshops, panel discussions, lunchtime conversations, and, a true festival favorite, the “Pants Party”. Melody Eggen, our resident costume designer, brings a collection of wide-legged, loose, patterned pants, shirts, and jumpers, a tradition that has begun a festival-recognized-but-once-again-unspoken-dress code for BDF dancers and faculty. Gathering together in the living room of Frye House, people pick through, try on, and purchase brightly colored patterned pants that sprinkle Bates campus, bringing the spirit and magic of the festival into the dining hall, the quad, and the town of Lewiston. Melody’s creations live in the BDF Store for the remainder of the festival, so if you missed the party, be sure to head over.

The past week was full and set the tone for a great two weeks to come. This week, we have a flood of artists and alumni returning for the 35th Anniversary Gala, which honors the legacy of both Marcy Plavin and Laura Faure and highlights and celebrates the eclectic and extensive history of the festival. The Musicians’ Concert takes place Monday night and each evening this week holds various activities sure to leave participants fulfilled (and slightly exhausted, but that’s exactly what’s expected).

This post was written by Phoebe Ballard. Phoebe is the BDF social media intern for the 2017 summer.

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