Students, faculty reflect on summer arts at Hopkins Center

Completing a slate that included performances from the New York Theatre Workshop, Andrew Bird and the Hands of Glory, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and a documentary screening by filmmaker Ken Burns, the Hopkins Center’s summer programming will draw to a close in the coming weeks as the academic quarter ends. Reflecting back on the term, students, staff and faculty identified a number of highlights across disciplines offered at the Center.

 Theater

With programming including alumni play festival VoxFest, the respective staging and reading of two plays written by a current undergraduate and a now-alumnus in the Eleanor Frost and Ruth and Loring Dodd play festival and a three-week residency by the New York Theatre Workshop, undergraduates this summer have been treated to a “remarkable experience,” “Drama in Performance” professor Jamie Horton said.

Over the summer, the theater department developed an academic program that partners with much of the programming at the Hop, Hopkins Center publicity director Rebecca Bailey said. The department’s programming focuses on allowing students to gain insight into the process behind creating new work, Horton said.

“The undergraduates in Theater 65 have more exposure to the development of new plays in the weeks of the summer than I probably had in the first five years of my professional theater career combined,” he said. “It’s really substantial.”

Veronica Burt ’16, a student in “Drama in Performance,” said VoxFest and the New York Theatre Workshop have been highlights of her summer. During VoxFest, Burt worked on a sketch comedy piece.

“I’ve seen a lot of [New York Theatre Workshop] productions and I’ve been familiar with their work over the years, so it was cool to be able to meet the artistic director and the associate artistic director and build those connections,” Burt said.

 Music 

Describing his performance as the “pinnacle” of her summer, Tiantian Zhang ’16 said that Andrew Bird and the Hands of Glory’s July 10 performance stood out among summer musical offerings. Over the past few months, Hanover has also played host to performances by Ricardo Lemvo and Makina Loca, the headliners of the summer’s free concert, and Anaïs Mitchell, among other performers.

“It was a very refreshing and rejuvenating experience in terms of my musical identity,” Zhang said of Bird’s performance. “He’s such a creative genius.”

Across performances, Bailey said that a number of this summer’s live musical performers — including Bird and Mitchell — were selected in part for their festival-style performances, which she said she hoped brought a similar atmosphere to the Hop.

Before his performance in June, Lemvo — who blends musical styles with his Los Angeles-based band — offered a pre-show talk on his musical style. His performance kicked-off the summer’s programming.

 Film

Highlights in film this summer included screenings from documentary filmmakers Ken Burns and Paul Lazarus ’76. Fewer athletic events and rehearsals over the summer also allowed students more interaction with visiting filmmakers, director of the Dartmouth Film Society Johanna Evans ’10 said.

“There were students who came to meet Paul Lazarus who weren’t even in the classes that he was visiting,” Evans said. “That’s something that’s special about summer, that we can usually pull together bigger groups of students from a broader variety of academic backgrounds than we can in the busier terms when really the students only have so much time.”

Lazarus presented his documentary on Dean Kamen — an inventor who works on water purification — in early August. In July, Burns presented the third episode in his PBS-bound series “The Roosevelts,” continuing his rich history of involvement with the College and the Hopkins Center, where he serves on the board of overseers.

In addition to the two documentary screenings, Evans pointed to several small moments across the summer as particularly memorable, including a showing of the silent film “Asphalt” (1929) that was accompanied by a score performed live by a graduate student in the digital musics graduate program and a Monty Python screening that mixed classic filmed scenes with new jokes.

“We had a huge great audience all singing along at the end to ‘always look on the bright side of life,’” Evans said. “It was great to sort of find other Python fans here at Dartmouth and to celebrate them with like-minded people.”

Dance

On June 27 and 28, the world-renowned company Hubbard Street Dance Chicago performed in Hanover. Praised for previous performances by the Chicago Sun-Times, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and Cologne Express in Cologne, Germany, the company had never performed in Hanover, Bailey said.

The Hubbard Dance Company also offered master classes while in Hanover.

“The reaction to them was tremendous,” she said. “Our audiences really love accomplished dance, not minimalist but great technique, really beautiful physical movement as well as cutting edge choreography. People loved them.”

 

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