2009-10 OFA Flashback: 'Viewpointe' Turns Ten

by Guest Blogger

This post is another in a continuing series on the Harvard Arts Beat blog taking a look back at significant events and program highlights sponsored by the Office for the Arts during the past academic year. Guest blogger Amanda Lynch '10 recalls her participation in this year's edition of the OFA Dance Program's annual "Dancers' Viewpointe" show.

My freshman year I puzzled over the title of the Office for the Arts' spring dance show: "Dancers’ Viewpointe VII." I figured the "point/pointe" pun was too good to use just once, wondered briefly how many more there would be, and put the whole thing out of my mind.

Though I've participated in fewer than half of the "Dancers’ Viewpointe" shows presented at Harvard (we made it to 10 this year), I have come to appreciate the remarkable variety in the content of this annual show, as well as its unswerving quality. Dance Director Elizabeth Bergmann was behind each of these programs, and here is as good a place as any to salute her outstanding leadership, which brought everything from Balanchine's Serenade to Jaime Blanc's The Rite of Spring to life on the Harvard stage.

I particularly enjoyed this year's program, "Dancers' Viewpointe 10," both as an observer and a participant. Held at the New College Theatre,

it opened with Breathe, an exciting piece by Dance Program instructor Jodi Leigh Allen, which showcased the dancers' energy in building climactic moments. This was complemented nicely by the full-bodied, yearning lyricism of another group piece, Bergmann's They Say We Travel the Same Road and a delicately styled pas de deux by renowned professional choreographer Trey McIntyre.

The second half of the show was a medley of works by Alvin Ailey, which I am in no way qualified to discuss as a dispassionate observer. I am still so excited about the diversity of the choreography, the quality of the mentorship, and the opportunities for artistic development provided by each of these difficult excerpts. I was lucky enough to perform parts of Isba and Streams, and will never forget the experience. Nor will I forget the inspiring work of my peers.

As a senior, I think I finally understood why the show retained its name for so long. On campus we're encouraged to have opinions about everything from Marx to macaroni and we are, for the most part, equipped to do so. Participating in the "Dancers’ Viewpointe" programs during my time here—as well as the curricular courses that often accompany them—has enriched my perspective on contemporary dance through immersion in work of the highest caliber.

I have come to consider this immersion an essential part of my undergraduate education.

I also found that our audiences gained a related kind of knowledge, whether by watching their classmates interpret classic works by Ailey or Paul Taylor or by taking in new choreography by talented students and faculty. By experiencing the dancers' viewpoints on the work, if you will, those in the seats emerged from the theater with opinions, appreciation, and curiosity.

[Caption: Balanchine's "Serenade" performed in Dancers' Viewpointe VII]

[Caption: Jodi Leigh Allen's "Breathe" (Photo by Andreas Randow)]

[Caption: "Isba" performed in Dancers' Viewpointe 10]