Time for Bed

There is no children’s story or warm milk involved in this “Bedtime.” The fusion of Andover Dance Group (ADG) with Andover’s musicians and singers into an imaginative performance this past weekend was not to be missed. A symphony of live music and choreographed dance, “Bedtime and Other Dances” combined two art mediums to create a dramatic show. Christopher Walter, Director of Fidelio and Chorus, was an important part of helping the collaboration succeed. The show consisted of six pieces. Erin Strong and Judith Wombwell, both Instructors in Dance, each choreographed two pieces, Jennifer Chew ’10, a member of ADG, choreographed one piece and Mark Morris choreographed the finale, “Bedtime.” Each dance explored music and movement differently. Sayer Mansfield ’10 performed a solo piece, accompanied by harp, conveniently named “Flighty.” The piece emphasized a repetition of movement and center of gravity. Overall, the choreography was a spectacular hit. It was a refreshingly different performance for the Andover community to see, with live, entrancing music accompanying the dance. Though the dancers were not in sync for all the pieces, it did little to change the overall success of the sensational performance. “[The performance was] incredible! I’ve danced to live music and it reminded me of how much I missed it,” Wombwell said. “The harp piece and the waltz piece looked like the dancers were dancing for the music and listening to the songs.” The performance was an indelible experience for both dancers and musicians. Walter said, “The experience was uplifting for everybody. For the musicians, it adds a new dimension to what they are doing. To know that what they are singing or playing can actually be interpreted and transformed into movement on the stage is a thrill.” “Dancing to recorded music can never be wholly satisfactory, except perhaps for some electronic scores,” he added. “To have living, breathing, musicians right there gives the performance an element of spontaneity, and sharpens the dancers’ response to the music.” Most audience members and performers agreed with him. According to Duncan Crystal ’10, the live music sounded better than an audio recording. “[Having live music on stage] makes it much more tangible, in that you can see every part of what’s going on,” said Crystal. “Aesthetically, I thought Fidelio was a good frame to the piece.” Chew said, “[Live] music added life and energy to the show and dancers could feel the music more.” “[Being a part of this production was] different,” Carolyn Whittingham ’11 said. “It was more powerful, and it feels like you are a part of something bigger.” Mark Morris is a world-renowned choreographer who established the Mark Morris Dance Group in 1980. His dance troupe choreographed “Bedtime” in 1992 and Marjorie Folkman, a retired member of the group, came to PA to teach the piece to Andover dancers. Whittingham said that the dancers did not have to edit the moves to become more manageable for the music. “We were taught straight from the Morris tapes and [Folkman] helped slow down the movements for the dancers and worked with musicians to adjust the tempo of their scores,” she said. Excitedly, she added that the show went “pretty well, except for some technical difficulties here and there.” Chew said, “It was a little tricky to choreograph the dance with the music because it wasn’t very straightforward with the counts, so it took a lot of rehearsing.” The musicians did not face difficult pieces, according to Walter. “Maybe it was easier, knowing that what they were playing or singing was being so vividly interpreted,” Walter said. “Of course, we had to be careful with tempos, since the dancers had rehearsed for some time with recordings, and what we did couldn’t stray too far from those.”