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Return. Revisit. Reinvent.

I return.  A Bates alum, I have not set foot on this campus for two years.  I revisit.  This festival I love, the people I love.  This is my third summer of three weeks at BDF.  I reinvent.  Same festival, but I have evolved.  There is fresh purpose driving me forward.

This year I return not just to dance, but to document.  In collaboration with Victor Lazaro, I am working on a series of videos about the Youth Arts Program (YAP) and the Emerging Choreographers.  I return as a dancer, (notice the subtraction of the word “college”) who knows what it is to struggle to find work that works around rehearsals (or vice versa).  There is new found glory I now relish in as I go throughout my classes.  Dancing all day in a huge space with people who push me to reach greater heights is a treat I no longer take for granted.  I am now a dance teacher, and thus class is not only about my own technique and expression, but also about paying attention to the flow of class and ways to correct students positively and effectively.

And I am not the only one returning to Bates.  Like birds migrating back home in the summer after a winter spent in the tropics, we are a community of artists returning to our haven.  We are here for a second, third… thirteenth time.  The returning educating artists: Doug Varone, Cathy Young, Michael Foley…  The musicians: Shamou, Peter Jones, Jesse Manno… (TO NAME A FEW.)  My fellow dancers whose faces I recognize from… that Modern IV class I took three years ago?!

This summer I am dancing in Omar Carrum and Claudia Lavista’s repertory piece.  They were here as International Visiting Artists when I was here in 2007, and Omar and I shared the same “were you here…?” moment I have shared with so many this past week.  For their rep, we are recreating a piece (Lleno y vacío) that was originally set on their company, Delfos Danza Contemporanea.  Yet another example of artists returning here to revisit and reinvent.

We are all here looping.  But unlike the random media generated loops we watched Troika Ranch get stuck in (during Dawn Stoppiello’s Dance & Media talk on Thursday), we are using the past to launch ourselves into new territory.  We are honing our skills and experimenting with novel ideas.  Now with one third of the festival behind us, let’s remember to continue to dive out of the safety of our habits, and dare to re-[fill in the blank].

To sign off, I share with you a quote that resonated with me from this week: “It’s not about going against tradition, it’s about using it as a source.” ~Panaibra Gabriel (in response to a question about tradition and dance at the Global Exchange Panel)

Alissa Horowitz