Dancing the Big Apple: Dance alumni to perform Feb. 24-25

Carol Dilley and Rachel Boggia, both of the Bates dance faculty, perform "Phantom Ice" during the first performance of the New York Bates Alumni Dance Concert, on Feb. 24, 2012. Photograph copyright © 2012 by Ebbe Sweet.

Carol Dilley and Rachel Boggia, both of the Bates dance faculty, perform "Phantom Ice" during the first performance of the New York Bates Alumni Dance Concert, on Feb. 24, 2012. Photograph copyright © 2012 by Ebbe Sweet '11.

Bates dance alumni tend to make interesting things happen. And interesting things tend to happen in New York City.

So it was probably inevitable that at some point, a bunch of Bates dancers would pull up their leg warmers and put on a show in the Big Apple. The question was, when?

And the answer is: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 24 and 25, at an arts center called Spoke the Hub Dancing, in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

It’s the first-ever New York Bates Alumni Dance Concert.

But “alumni” doesn’t tell the whole story. While nine dance alumni will perform or present choreography, so will a current student, New York City native Victoria Lowe ’12, and so will dance faculty Carol Dilley, program director and associate professor, and visiting assistant professor Rachel Boggia.

As Dilley tells it, the concert resulted from a dressing room conversation that took place during one of those interesting things that dance alumni do: the April 2011 reunion that brought nearly 200 of them to Bates from as far away as London and San Francisco.

Chatting in the dressing room were Erin Gottwald ’98 of Brooklyn and Liliana Amador-Marty ’91 of Glen Rock, N.J. With quite a few Bates-pedigreed professional dancers in the tri-state area, they realized that a New York City performance was a natch and they were the people to take it on.

Dilley leaped on the idea, bringing to bear the resources of the theater and dance department — including her faculty colleague Michael Reidy, who will be lighting the show. But what really sped the plow was Gottwald’s connection with Spoke the Hub.

Especially in an arts beehive like New York, “negotiating for a performing space is a big important piece, and it’s hard for a non-local to do,” says Dilley. “You need a way in.” Cue Gottwald, who has taught, performed and curated shows in Spoke’s 65-seat blackbox space, one of several arts operations located in a former soap factory.

Erin Gottwald '98 in performance.

Erin Gottwald '98 in performance.

Gottwald turns up in a couple of pieces on the seven-work program, including a revised version of “Peace, My Heart,” a tribute to the late Bates dancer Polly Howlett ’76. The piece was choreographed by a classmate and premiered in a memorable episode during Parents & Family Weekend 2011.

Performing it next weekend, in addition to Gottwald, are Amador-Marty, Stephanie Brunson Matthews ’92 and Alissa Horowitz ’08.

Matthews and Amador-Marty will be joined by Alison Oakes Charbonnier ’92 for the joint composition “Drive.” Horowitz, too, presents her own choreography in “Episodes,” performed with Victor Lazaro. And coming from Boston to present a piece is Kate Nies Brigham ’02 (two of her dancers are Batesies: Sarah Putnam Budney ’00 and Sara Miller ’03).

Dilley and Boggia, meanwhile, offer “Phantom Ice.” This work in progress is set to music for cello and tape recording by Bates composer William Matthews, Alice Swanson Esty Professor of Music. The cello part will be performed live by Madeleine Shapiro, a well-known avant-garde musician much admired by Dilley.

(In fact, Dilley notes, she is bringing Shapiro to campus in March for a residency culminating in collaborative performances during the March 30–April 2 Winter Dance Concert.)

And Lowe will offer “Ready,” a solo piece that she presented during Sankofa’s performance at Bates the evening of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. “This is the first big concert I’ve performed in my hometown in years,” says Lowe, who’s expecting a big turnout by family and friends.

Concert organizers hope that off-campus alumni dance concerts will keep rolling after the Spoke the Hub event. Gratifying for performers and audiences, such events, too, can only benefit the Bates dance program — which is about to graduate its first four majors in May.

“It’s a great networking thing for alumni on the outside,” says Dilley, “and that tells students on the inside that when they walk out of Bates, they’re not walking into a big empty space — they’re walking into a living network of help.

“And in the dance world, that’s pretty darned necessary.”

“Now that Bates has a dance major, there’s a different sense of duty for alumni,” adds Gottwald. “It’s a major and it’s official, and we’re part of that tradition. This will just solidify our connection to the Bates dance program.”