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Dance company to revisit landmark ‘Tensile Involvement’ in P&F Weekend concerts

Bates dancers perform Alwin Nikolais’ “Tensile Involvement” in 2004. Photograph by Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College.

Two performances of widely diverse repertoire by Bates College dancers, including the return of the influential masterwork “Tensile Involvement” by Alwin Nikolais, take place at noon Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 6-7, in the college’s Schaeffer Theatre, 305 College St.

Featuring the Bates Dance Company, student dance clubs and faculty performers, these Parents & Family Weekend performances are open to the public at no cost. For more information, please call 207-786-8294.

Nikolais, a pioneering choreographer, championed non-representational dance. He was known for a multimedia approach that, similar to opera, was intended to bring all aspects of the performing arts to the audience.

He choreographed “Tensile Involvement,” his best-known work, in 1953, also designing the set, costumes and lighting, and composing the music. The piece launches the dancers into interactions with giant ribbons that transform the stage into a dynamic matrix of color, sound and motion.

The most recent performance of the piece by Bates dancers was in 2004. A gift by Marcy Plavin, founder of the Bates dance program, makes this year’s production possible.

Also on the program:

  • work by hip-hop choreographer Robin Sanders from Memphis, Tenn. The guest choreographer for a springtime course that took Bates dancers into local public schools, Sanders “was such a hit that we have brought her back for our core creative process course, Dance Repertory Performance,” says Bates dance program director Carol Dilley;
  • dances choreographed by Dilley, by faculty member Debi Irons and by student choreographers;
  • a performance of Balinese dance by guest artist Shoka Yamamuro;
  • and dances by student clubs — the Dynasty Step Team, Ballroom Dance Society and the liturgical dance troupe Justified.


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