July 24, 2005 09:04 PM

Karen Goes to Dance Camp

It has been a rollicking first weekend at the Bates Dance Festival (henceforth known as dance camp). I arrived at the Portland (Maine) International Airport on Saturday, eyeing potential fellow dance campers. A large group of large teenagers (one of whom was in possession of a Dance magazine) thankfully departed en masse and was thereby disqualified as possible Bates material. After waiting ~1.5h the Mermaid shuttle showed up with a U-Haul in tow to transport the 15 or so dancers gathered at the airport to Lewiston. I met a dancer from LV who is the director of the High School for the Performing Arts (formerly known as Vegas High). We are housemates in Small House (aka Old House because it appears that you have to be at least 30 [or very close] to be put there).

I don’t have a roommate (thankfully) and am sleeping on the top bunk. There are glow in the dark stars on the ceiling above my bed. It is strange to live in a dorm and to have a meal plan. I smuggle food out in my bag all of the time because I am paranoid about getting hungry when the cafeteria isn’t open.

Last night we saw Jane Comfort and Company perform Persephone and Underground River (which wrongly assumed to be the River Styx). Persephone was a modern interpretation of the Greek myth from a Jungian perspective. The dancer who played Demeter was a stunning performer, evoking empathy from the audience who felt her overwhelming sorrow at having lost her daughter. Persephone was cipher; was she white as in tabula rasa or was she white as in innocence or both? Her persona developed as the piece progressed into the second and third acts. In the Underworld she learned to embrace her female sensuality, frolicking with HotDog on a Stick costumed devils in an upside-down dance. She refused Hades offering of a red scarf upon being called back to the surface, however, once on the earth again, we see that she chose to keep the red of Hades for herself. Perhaps she wanted the scarf, but only on her own terms. Its fleshy color symbolizing a new facet of her personality, Persephone’s newfound individuality comes in conflict with the orderliness of her mother’s world. Her solo dancing disrupts the chorus and Demeter is dismayed at her daughter’s rebellion.

Underground River was a much more abstract work dealing with the imagined reality of a child who has limited means of communicating with the waking world.

On Sunday, I registered for classes and was very disappointed. The whole reason I came to Bates was to take class or rep with David Dorfman, but the schedule I ended up with is a strange mixture of classes that I would never choose under any other circumstances. Hopefully people will drop out of classes and I will be able to take one DD class, but if not, I will try not to be too disappointed. It is my first time ever at dance camp and I want it to be a positive experience for me . (*sigh*)

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