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Week 1 at Bates

16 Aug

As Colby students, we feel an intense rivalry with Bates. However, the college happens to be home to the world renowned Bates Dance Festival, where I have spent the past week and will spent the next two weeks. The festival is amazing! Each day, I take four classes. My day starts with Modern Technique, taught by Carol Dilley, who is a dance professor at Bates. The class is very technical and structured, which is a great way to prepare my body for the day. Following technique, I take a class called Making Dances I. This is not a traditional composition class, though. It is more about finding our own artistic voices and painting self-portraits through movement. We are also learning new ways to start generating movement. While I enjoy the class, I sometimes find it very frustrating because I come from a conventional dance background and sometimes have trouble thinking outside the box. That being said, the teachers, Sara Pearson and Patrik Widrig, make these tasks more approachable. In the afternoon, I take Afro-modern, which is a great class that helps me to feel much more grounded in my other classes. I love the earthy movement style and exploring a technique that is basically foreign to me. I end the day with a lecture class called the Business of Dance. This class is extremely interesting and informative-we learn about networking, self-marketing, and the many areas that make up the dance industry. I am starting to learn a lot about myself as an artist and am making new discoveries about how I want to move forward in this field.

Aside from classes, the festival brings in amazing dance companies to perform and give lectures and demonstrations. The festival kicked off with a performance by Nicholas Leichter Dance, a company which fuses modern/contemporary and hip-hop. I absolutely loved the style of the movement, which was paired with the score of the hit musical, “The Wiz.” Another amazing performance I saw was the Zoe/Juniper company, choreographed by Zoe Scofield. The work was absolutely incredible-I don’t think I breathed normally for the entire hour-long piece. The incorporation of multimedia with extremely technical movement was seamless and the technology enhanced the dancing. Zoe explored some really interesting concepts and the movement style was so interesting. Next week, I look forward to seeing David Dorfman’s company perform, as I am a huge fan of his work. Overall, the festival is wonderful so far and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in modern dance!

Enjoy the last of summer!!

-Maddie Kurtz


Getting Whipped into Shape: Brown Style

2 Jul

So I meant to post on Monday, but time kinda got away from me (that’ll happen here.  A lot.)  So I’d like to take this brief break I have to give you a rundown of my day:

9:00-9:50:  Movement!  And by movement I mean an exercise in sadism in the form of ballet.  The teacher of this class is an intense, highly focused women whose insanity is balanced by the fact that I love her.  The morning workout consists of dance, stretches and some stuff I don’t even have a label for.  I spend the majority of my time falling down (but it’s so worth it!)

10:30-1:00.  Acting! More scene study!  YAY!  Lately we’ve been working on “Art Exercises.”  This means:  you have a group, this group chooses a painting, the group devises a piece inspired by said painting, art is born.  Theoretically anyway.  My group (a lovely bunch of people.  I’ve literally never done a smoother group project) did a piece based on Salvador Dali’s Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening.  You know, this one:

It ended up being a series of monologues in which various people recount their (often quite disturbing) dreams.  The performance went well, although there was one person who actually did fall asleep.

2:00-5:30 (sometimes 6).  Creative Ensemble!  Here’s the meat right here.  Creative Ensemble is an incredibly draining series of exercises meant to create ensemble and develop an original performance piece by the end of the summer.  The class is incredible, and pushes me in ways I didn’t think were possible.  I want to devote an entire post to this course, so look out for that in the future!

7:00-10:30  Rehearsal!  This is another part that deserves its own post.  That’s gonna come once hell week is over (we open on July 6th).  If you’re in Providence you should check out the show.  You can see me moving set pieces dressed like a hipster (more on that later.)  Here’s the link for tickets:

But I have been learning a lot from rehearsals.  Even if I sometimes try too hard, mess up and then do this (internally):

That’s all for now.

Signing off,

Mike Trottier

P.S  I have two bathrooms in my apartment.  One is normal.  The other is apparently the bathroom where they filmed Saw.

Week 1 of Dance Internship

2 Jul

Hi all! Hope your summers are fantastic so far! After my first week of work and my first dance class in 3 weeks, I may be extremely sore, but I had a great week and look forward to learning more. Aside from my 9-5 marketing internship which is four days a week, (and not the most fun) I also have an arts administration internship in New York City with Megan Sprenger, who is not only the head of marketing and PR at New York Live Arts (NYLA), but is also the artistic director of her own company, mvworks. Working for Megan is a wonderful opportunity. The greatest part of the internship is that while I am doing work for mvworks, I am at NYLA observing the inner-workings of a great dance venue. This past week, I had many tasks to complete. My favorite one, though, was the compilation of the annual report for mvworks. This report gives descriptions of all of the company’s projects over the past year in order to show donors that their money is being put to good use. It was really interesting to see how much it costs to run a company-you need funds for travel/transportation, performance venues, lighting, and of course money to pay the dancers. But despite the myriad expenses, as the movement component of my internship, mvworks paid for me to take an open class with one of their dancers, Kendra Portier (remember her?) at Dance New Amsterdam (DNA) last Saturday. Taking this class reminded me of why I was so inspired when Kendra and Ali (who also dances with mvworks) taught the master class up at Colby. Kendra really encourages dancers to push their boundaries. Her class is not only physical, but also thought-provoking. She urges you to think about where movement comes from and why it makes you feel a certain way. The class was two hours, so there was ample time for an extremely thorough warm-up, with opportunities for improvisation weaved throughout. I am personally not the biggest fan of improv only because it feels so foreign to me and I get really self-conscious, so it was really good to be forced out of my comfort zone. Watching the other dancers improvise was really inspirational and gave me tons of ideas. Hopefully, by the time I go up to the Bates Dance Festival at the end of July, I will be more comfortable with improvisation. This is an area that I (and I think many dancers) view as an exercise, as opposed to a form of exploration and a vital part of the creative process. I am really looking forward to continuing with my internship and can’t wait to give you all another update!

Much love and happy dancing!


From Mike: Reporting Live from Brown

2 Jul

One weekend down and I’m already a little exhausted, but that’s fine.

For those of you who don’t know (which is everyone) I’m doing the Brown/Trinity Apprentice Program at Brown University.  Basically my job is to take classes, help out with the productions this Summer and mentor high schoolers in another summer program.  It’s a lot, but I’m excited to jump into everything.

I got here on Friday had a little meet and greet and settled into my apartment.  It’s a rather old house (from the 1860s or something like that) and I’m 76% sure it’s haunted.  Seriously.  I have a growing suspicion someone was murdered or least severely maimed on my staircase, due to some suspicious stains I can’t explain.  At night the place emits this weird noise that sounds a lot like the music on the main page of a Wii.  Again, I’m not kidding.  But aside from a murderous ghost that apparently likes tennis, the place is nice and spacious.  It also doesn’t have WiFi.

My Saturday was spent putting up posters in Providence’s Italian district.  In order to understand the slight failure of this adventure, you need to see the poster:

While very eye-catching, the nature of the poster (in all its stabby glory) meant no fancy restaurant or gallery would hang it.  So, of course, the majority of the places on our street were fancy restaurants and galleries.

The real work starts on Tuesday.  That’s when the real schedule kicks in and I’ll probably have no time for anything but sleep and food (although I’ve been told I’ll probably have to pick one of those per week).

My goal is to post every Monday since it’s my only day off.  Yay.

Signing Off,

Mike Trottier

From Ellie: Week 1 at Doug Varone Intensive

14 Jun

Hello everyone!

I hope everyone is having an amazing summer and taking advantage of all the wonderful opportunities it has to offer!
I am checking in from the Doug Varone Summer intensive in Brockport NY! I have just completed my first week out of three and it has already been an informative, engaging and eye-opening experience. Everyday is filled with class from 8 am until 6 pm- I start the day with Pilates, followed by technique class, a phrase work class, the company’s rehearsal, an Irene Dowd sequence course, and a performance technique class.
Pilates is a fantastic way to start the day- focusing on strengthening the core, manipulating the pelvis, and opening the body- which is so important in Doug’s style of dance which combines technical dancing with moves that require a lot of weight manipulation and momentum in different areas of the body. All parts of the body are interconnected and I have discovered through Doug’s choreography that the body must be experienced as separate parts as well as one entity that opens, stretches, and reacts to outside forces as well as to aspects within itself.
It has been incredible to watch the company perform and practice as both athletes and artists, in the company rehearsals, as well as in nightly repertoire performances. They are constantly manipulating their bodies between weighting sequences, requiring them to isolate areas of the body and explore the reaction that follows, and technical moves. Each company member has a unique style that comes through in their dancing. This allows each dancer to be seen as a real individual, as they take the choreography and make it a part of themselves. It is interesting to see the combination of acting as well as portraying a real individual who is feeling and experiencing the work.
I have embarked on this exploration myself in the technique and phrase work classes. My past dance history as a competitive Irish step dancer separates me from the other dancers- who have been taking ballet and modern dance their entire lives (many of which are conservatory dancers), however each company dancer and well as some of the participants have been very understanding and supportive. This program offers an incredible support system, which is encouraging and motivating. Not only has it been incredible for my body to experience the choreography and movements, but it has been a gift to learn how to keep a positive attitude, a quite confidence, and the motivation to push on and accept that what may seem like failures are actually successes. Just watching the other participants is enlightening and allows me to learn more about the human body.
The Irene Dowd sequencing has also been very interesting in it’s exploration of sequences connected to the neuromuscular systems. The sequences are slow and melodic but very strengthening- focusing on neuromuscular pathways. Many of the movements are reminiscent of how babies move. The sequences also increase awareness of anatomy, anatomic functionality and how body parts are related and connected to each other.
Performance technique has been incredibly interesting and enlightening as well. Natalie- who is one of the most beautiful dancers I have ever seen as well as one of the sweetest people I have ever met- does a wonderful job introducing different ways of experiencing dance. We have done exercises regarding the focus of our eyes while we dance and how that affects our movements (focused on specific things, or if we blur our eyes). We also investigated how to portray different emotions in our dancing as well as in our faces. Each dancer created different phrases based on movements to reflect different people, experiences and places in our lives. This also allowed the class to connect on a deeper level and get to know one another (map exercise).
It has been interesting to learn about different ways to choreograph pieces as well. In Natalie’s class we learned to connect these individual movements that had meaning to us into a phrase, while in a class with Doug, he mimed doing menial tasks and then connected them- and told us to give them meaning. However in company rehearsals, he just flows, telling each dancers to do this or that, either allowing them to fulfill his orders with his own movements, or quickly busting out a sequence and them telling them to follow. He is extremely influenced by music in his choreography.
Overall, this week has been incredibly intense, interesting, and enlightening, but with that said, I’m glad it’s the weekend!

Stay cool Colby!

Ellie McGuire

1 week in “the real world”!

31 May

Hey Colby Theater and Dance,
I found myself with some unexpected downtime this evening, and thought what a better time to write in to our brand new blog (thanks Annie!).
So just a little background for those who don’t know me…I just graduated (last Sunday) with a BA in Theater & Dance and Anthropology. It’s still a little surreal, but hitting the ground running has kept my mind off the completely cliche “real world” phenomenon.
Well, almost…I did have a major audition this past weekend in Philadelphia with the Walnut Street Theater. It would have meant a full-year apprenticeship contract, performing children’s theater, teaching classroom workshops and doing community outreach with area schools, and understudying for the Theater’s mainstage performances (in other words, an amazing gig!). It’s never fun getting cut from an audition, but unfortunately it was part of the process this time around (only 4 out of about 100 received contracts, and that was after an initial application round of about 400/500 actors). I did leave the audition with some thoughts about how to prep for any in the future, and trying to remember that there’s always something to learn from an audition (the ones that end in contracts and those that don’t). Of course I was unhappy (I’ll admit, I even cried a little heading back to my hotel room), but I am focusing now on some other opportunities including following up on some networking with a few Colby alums I happened to meet in my travels.
In other, happier news, I am in rehearsal four days a week for “Sunday in the Park with George” at the Heartwood Regional Theater in Damriscotta, Maine (I’ll be playing Dot). We had our first off-book rehearsal Saturday and go into staging Tuesday. Our AD is fantastic and already has us on a basically complete stage…all of the major set pieces are in place and a lot of the technical work is done (truly invaluable as this is a tech-intricate production and a lot of his staging ideas have us interacting with the tech). I am finding the music just as challenging as I expected (this will be my third Sondheim show), so I really have appreciated a little extra rehearsal time with our music director and our AEA George. It’s strange to think we’ll be going up in just three weeks, but I think we’ll all be ready,
I also received my contract for “Fafalo!” with the Ziggurat Theatre Ensemble…my first real theater contract! I’ll be getting a lot more information throughout June, but in the meantime just signing my contract was certainly a bit of a big deal!
Just a bit of a taste of my first week in “the real world”. More to come later in the summer of course, so until then!
– Alexandra

Hello world!

29 Apr

Colby students reflect on summer Theater and Dance studies.