On Thursday evening in the Black Box Theater, at the end of the labyrinth of hallways underneath Schaeffer Theatre, Laura Pietropaoli ’17 was running the last rehearsal for her dance thesis.
The space is intimate, but does pose challenges. “It’s just a black box. And we wanted to find a way to soften it,” Pietropaoli explained. To accomplish this, a dozen or so quilts and blankets are spread across the space. She continued, “It helps the dancers get a lot more comfortable.”
In her choreography, “I wanted to explore what I learned from being at Bates as an academic and as a person,” said Pietropaoli, a dance and rhetoric double major from Yarmouth, Maine. “I wanted to make something that took into account everything that I’ve learned as a dance student and made it into something that can reach anyone.”
The piece, titled “Enjoy Your Stay,” is performed by a six-person ensemble, interspersing short dance pieces with abstract skits, akin to sketch comedy.
Pietropaoli is also writing a research paper as a thesis component, focusing on artistic ensembles that blur the lines of social relationships and art making practice. As her faculty advisor Rachel Boggia observed, “There’s this interesting line that they’re always crossing between being performers and being themselves with each other in the piece, and I think that’s coming through really beautifully.”
The ensemble also benefits from the thesis process. As Boggia explains, “Every thesis is not just a learning opportunity for the thesis student. The cast is also learning. We have future dance majors in this cast, so hopefully they’re learning about choreography, about performance, and about the technical aspects.”
Pietropaoli has come to appreciate the demands of choreography. “I’ve learned a lot about how to direct my cast and advance my artistic vision,” she said.
This vision is guided carefully by Boggia, who does not insert herself too much creatively. Recalling how Pietropaoli pushed back on some criticism, Boggia was proud. “To me that means she’s really her own artist and she’s seeing me as her adviser. And that was a nice moment.”
“Enjoy Your Stay” opens tonight at 7:30, with additional shows throughout the weekend.