2009-2010 Dance Company of Middlebury
Proyecto República Dominicana
During the fall 2009 under the artistic direction of Penny Campbell, The Dance Company of Middlebury developed a concert of dances for performance at Middlebury and in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic in January/February 2010. Our work was inspired by our partners in the DR—Teatro Bálsamo, a community-based theatre group, and elementary school children participating in the Healthy Neighborhoods/Healthy Kids program sponsored by the Vermont Institute on the Caribbean—and was made to share our modern/postmodern dance sensibilities and incorporate some of their concerns. Our concert included three works: an improvised ensemble piece with live music by Arthur Brooks and Michael Chorney; a suite of duets featuring Sophia Levine and Christian Morel, one of which was choreographed by guest artist Christal Brown; and KIDZ/NIÑOZ, a collaboration with composer and philosophy professor Kareem Khalifa that took its content from children’s play and incorporated Dominican children’s songs in the score. Teatro Bálsamo, under the direction of Arisleyda Beard, performs a 45-minute piece dedicated to preserving Dominican children’s songs and dances through the generations. While on tour to Puerto Plata, DCM joined Bálsamo in a performance of that piece in the city’s central park to an enthusiastic crowd of at least 100 children. At the end of that performance, DCM also performed KIDZ/NIÑOZ for the crowd. See Shannon Bohler-Small’s blog from the tour for pictures and commentary on the tour.
Members of the company this year were Liz Boles '10, Philippe Bronchtein '10, Sarah Chapin '12, Jeremy Cline '11, Sophie Levine '10, Cat Miller '11, Christian Morel '11, and Alexandra Vasquez '12. In addition to the musician/composers mentioned above and our guest choreographer, Christal Brown, Jennifer Ponder designed our lighting and provided invaluable technical direction while on tour. Jennifer essentially assisted our friend Yoheves Garcia in figuring out a lighting system for Teatro Iván García (no relation) prior to our performances there! Shannon Bohler-Small shared her skills in children’s dance education with us and Nicole Patterson acted as our financial manager.
DCM also conducted research into attitudes of our college community toward the role of the arts and artists in community life. We did this in order to engage in dialogue with Dominican artists who feel very marginalized in their own communities but also very supported by visits and exchanges with artists from other countries. As we interacted with groups of dancers, from professionals to children and their teachers, we were able to draw on our research and our own experiences to share a love of dance, art, and creative expression with our hosts.
While in Puerto Plata from January 24th to February 2nd, members of the company taught classes, engaged in exchanges of dance work, participated in workshops lead by our children’s dance education expert Shannon Bohler-Small, and danced with over 100 children in a gala we organized at the Casa de Cultura (House of Culture) in the center of the city. Pairs of company members had worked with groups of children to create short dances reflecting aspects of their communities that the children loved or wanted to change. During the gala, the children danced for each other and together sharing their creative work with each other and with parents. Of course, the company also performed both in our own concert at Teatro Iván García, a newly opened facility directed by our friend Arisleyda Beard and home to Teatro Bálsamo, and together with Bálsamo in their children’s song and dance piece. Dancers learned the basics of merengue and bachata, together with salsa and reggaetón, the most popular social dances in the republic, and tried out their new skills at the Rancho Típico on the outskirts of the city. They also got a little beach time, but not a lot because the daily schedule typically began at 8 a.m. with breakfast, and dinner was rarely on the agenda until 9:30 or 10 p.m. Long days, but wonderful ones.
Below are links to further information:
To see the Program for the Dance Company performance January 2010, click here.
To see the performance click on the link below:
Click below to read Shannon Bohler-Small’s daily blog from the Puerto Plata tour.
Click below on the link to an interview (in Spanish) with Penny Campbell by Mariel Vasquez for the television program, Nuestra Gente (Our People), aired in Puerto Plata on January 28, 2010. It features clips of the company performance at Teatro Iván García, and Penny's halting Spanish.