Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Dreams, Myth and Memory

Dreams, Myth and Memory | Illustration by Casey RobertsDance instructor Vicki Lloid stands in the center of the room beside an enormous red umbrella, conferring with student soloist Chris Fade about her belly dance performance. Another student enters with a folded tarp, and off to the side, an old-fashioned telephone is placed on a stool.

“If anyone has a headlamp, can they bring one?” Lloid asks a group of girls who are warming up in the back of the room.

“I have four,” one answers.

It is a Friday afternoon in the dance studio, and the Dance Theater class is in the midst of rehearsing for its upcoming performance, “Dreams, Myth and Memory,” a compilation of ensemble, student-choreographed, and solo performances. The class, which kicked-off mid-September and typically meets twice a week for three hour blocks of time, has spent the majority of the semester working towards this final presentation.

According to Lloid, the dance pieces will incorporate nine cellists playing on stage under the direction of Edward Dixon, Whitman Professor of Music, as well as soprano Christine Janis of Walla Walla University.

“There’s no orchestra [at today’s rehearsal],” said Lloid on Friday. “But you can imagine.”

Junior Kate Greenberg, who is involved with this performance both as a dancer and a student choreographer, said the “majority of the show each semester is mostly Vicki’s work” and that shows tended to mix styles. Greenberg, who has been dancing at Whitman since her first year, praised Dance Theater because “there’s room for creativity.”

While there is currently no dance major or minor offered at Whitman, Greenberg expressed hope that this might someday change. In the meantime, she said, Dance Theater is a good alternative.

Many of the students involved with this performance have dedicated massive amounts of time and energy to dance, whether through independent study or other classes and activities. First-year Laura van der Veer, who is dancing in four selections from the upcoming show, said she has been dancing since the age of three. “I knew I wanted to dance at Whitman, but I didn’t know what options there were,” she said. In addition to Dance Theater, van der Veer is currently enrolled in advanced modern dance and is a member of the dance team.

When asked how dancing impacts their academic life, many students said the pressure was manageable. “I wouldn’t say it interferes very much,” said sophomore Lauren Bolkovatz, who first took Dance Theater her freshman year because she was attracted to the class’s focus on rehearsal and performance.

“For very busy people [Dance Theater] would be a challenge,” said Camila Thorndike, who is also a sophomore. “Inevitably with any performance you’re going to waste a lot of time, because you’re not in every act.”

Nevertheless, Thorndike said she has “enjoyed being part of the rehearsal process” and thinks the upcoming show will be “really fun to watch…it’s a very entertaining and unusual set of pieces, with fun costumes.”

Bolkovatz, who wears a miniature hat with a peacock perched on top for one of her dances, said the structure of the class was “a lot more relaxed, which I like.”

As the group begins running through the performance, an impressive variation of pieces emerges, often with so much happening on stage at once that it poses an exciting challenge for the observer. The end of the semester show combines talents from within the class as well as soloists who are pursuing dance through independent study. As a result, it features such diverse selections as sophomore Maia Hansen’s self-choreographed dance to the Modest Mouse song Dramamine, and “Sisters,” choreographed by Lloid, in which five girls in ruffled skirts perform a captivating routine to the accompaniment of the cello choir. Another dance, titled “One,” is set to an original composition –– “The Island of Woods,” based on a poem by William Butler Yeats –– by composer William Ashworth, a Whitman alumnus.

“The composer, William Ashworth, will be coming here from Ashland, Oregon, to attend the performance,” said Lloid in an e-mail. She said both she and Dixon are “very grateful to him for his wonderful music and the opportunity to work with it.”

Perhaps the most visually striking piece involves multiple students positioned under and around a giant tarp, who create a moving floor for Senior Kevin Van Meter’s paranoid exploration to the hair raising pulse of “Whispers,” a soundtrack produced by students Colin Shepley and Lee Mills.

“Dreams, Myth and Memory” will be performed at Cordiner Hall on Thursday, Dec. 6, and Friday, Dec. 7 at 8:00 p.m.

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