Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Bates Dance Festival 2013

Bates, oh Bates, how I love you. Anyone who has ever been knows how magical this three week dance intensive is, and for those who have yet to experience it, it is hard to fully describe in a way that makes sense - but here goes my attempt!

I thought about blogging the whole time I was there, but decided to unplug a little bit and just journal then share some of my highlights on here :)

My class schedule was incredible, not that you can have a bad class schedule at Bates, but I specifically applied early this year (like, sent in all my info the DAY applications opened) so I could get first pick at classes, a little intense yes, but I knew what I wanted and I went for it :)

First period I had Modern V with Daniel Charon - a long time Limon dancer and Varone dancer. This class was fast paced and challenged my body and brain in all the right ways. I was feeling a little discouraged in this class the first week, thinking that I was the only one struggling, but after talking with others and acknowledging that we were all in the same boat, and I was able to get out of my head a little bit and let the challenge become exciting rather than frustrating. A great way to get in my body first thing in the morning and warm up for next period...

Varone Rep! It was exciting to get to work so closely for three weeks with Doug Varone, who I so highly respect and look up to as an artist. Daniel Charon assisted in our rep class so Doug could work quickly with us and create a new work! It was amazing to see all of the creative processes that Doug uses with his own company and get a chance to explore some of them on our own. I had to use parts of my brain I feel like I had been neglecting for the past few years to quickly come up with and remember material, but over the course of the festival I feel like I regained and expanded upon this skill. An amazing experience!

Third period was something I looked forward all day every day for the entire three weeks, Modern V Gut Motives with Kathleen Hermesdorf. I think I journaled about this class almost every day, the people, the awesome energy, the incredible music from Albert Mathias, and of course the one and only Kathleen and her badassness leading us through partner warmups, improvisations, inversions, and quirky movement phrases all the while motivating and inspiring us to be who we are and working with the energy of this room of unbelievable dancers. Even if we came into the class tired, or sore, or full from lunch, within minutes so much energy and connection was generated and by the end of class we were all begging to do the combination one more time before having to leave. I loved, loved, loved this class!

My fourth period was experiential anatomy with Ray Schwartz. The fourth class of the day is always a little difficult, everyone is tired and ready for dinner, but this class was full of great information so I tried my hardest to find focus. I didn't really know what to expect with this class, but we explored a lot of different parts of the body in multiple ways throughout the festival. Some days we started by looking at an interactive app on the projector to help us find and define bones and muscles, then located them on ourselves and partners. Some days we didn't look at any images, but explored only on our own bodies and others. We incorporated improvisations applying the anatomy to dance right in the moment, and were guided to explore different impulses than we might normally go toward. Working with the organs was one of my favorite days, it is amazing how much my movement changed in improvisation while thinking about leading with my kidneys or feeling my liver pour. He talked a bit about his work in Feldenkrais and Mind Body Centering and really inspired me to explore these fields of study more in depth.

In addition to my amazing classes, here is a brief list of the other incredible things I experienced during Bates...

* Seeing Doug Varone and Dancer's perform on our first night at Bates
* Contact improv jam with Nancy Stark Smith
* Bebe Miller Company's last performance of A History
* The Musician's concert at the beautiful Franco-American Heritage Center
* Eating delicious food with everyone at the Commons (such an awesome part of the Bates community where all the faculty, staff, interns, and dancers share meals and ideas)
* All of the cool special moments during meals including pop up performances from various classes and YAP kids as well as a surprise contact improv flash mob I took part in!
* Freeport trip to shop and eat lobster and be a Maine tourist for a day
* Taking Creative Process with Bebe Miller and Contact Improv with Nancy Stark Smith on class swap day, dance legends I've read about in my dance history classes with so much knowledge and experience but they are both such wonderful normal amazing people
* Parties at the musician's house... dance, drinks, and incredible music all night long :)
* Porch life: usually including wine and a lot of contemplating where we have been and where we will go in the future, as well as some hilarious other conversation, another huge part of the Bates community
* Journaling and meditating by the pond both alone and with friends, new and old.
* Yoga outside on the quad feeling cool grass, warm sunshine, and breeze through the trees around our mats, and inside with beautiful live music from the musicians on special days.
* Dance parties with live music and DJ's and video projection and lots and lots of wild crazy dancing
* Trips to the Pond for swimming and socializing on off days.
* Performing new work from Doug Varone in the Festival Finale

I feel like I could probably write a novel on all of the awesome events I just listed so very briefly, as well as talk about more and more amazing experiences, but I really still wouldn't be able to get the experience captured... so I will leave you with a few pictures and an urging to go to Bates if you have yet to experience it, this festival really is motivating, inspiring, calming, and life changing.

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