Meet the Dancers of Week of Dance: Emily Durkin, Dance Ensemble

What happens when you put together about 30 amazing dancers who also choreograph their own dances? You get Boston College’s Dance Ensemble. According to BCDE’s own website, “All the proceeds that BCDE generates from performances benefit the Boston College Campus School, a non-profit special education day school for students ages 3-21 with multiple disabilities.”

In order to kick off Week of Dance, we have begun to explore the stories of the students that form Boston College’s various dance groups, starting with BCDE’s Director Emily Durkin.

Emily is currently a senior at Boston College pursuing a major in Economics and Philosophy. Not only is Durkin the current director of BCDE, but she was also formerly the Vice Chair of the Student Organization Funding Committee at BC.

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We had a chance to sit down to ask her a few questions about her dance experience:

What inspires you to dance? How has it impacted your life? 

Dance Ensemble at BC has given me my best friends and most special memories. I auditioned for the team at the last minute my freshman year, and I am so glad I did. We feel so lucky that we get to spend time in our beautiful rehearsal space sharing our passion with one another through our choreography each semester. I am consistently blown away by the creativity of my peers.

What is your favorite dance memory at BC? 

I love the entire week leading up to our Week of Dance show in Robsham. It’s hard work – we are at the theater for upwards of 6 hours a day for the entire week – but it is also rewarding as we finally get to perform for an audience at the end of the week.

What makes Dance Ensemble “Dance Ensemble”? 

Everyone on DE truly is the luckiest. We get to learn about ourselves and each other throughout our four years together. DE’s emphasis on technique with weekly ballet classes makes it truly unique.

What are you looking forward to at Boston College with dance?

Our show is always the highlight of the year, it is the culmination of hundreds (maybe even thousands) of hours of hard work, but the opportunity to share our dance with the BC community on the Robsham Theater Arts Center stage is truly special and one that we do not take for granted.

Come out to support Boston College Dance Ensemble during the 2016 Week of Dance hosted by the Boston College Arts Council and the Robsham Theater Arts Center!

Check out the BCDE Facebook Page! BCDE will be teaching a FREE workshop on Tuesday November 29th at 7:30pm in Brighton Dance Studio! And be sure to pick up tickets through the Robsham Theater Arts Center for Week of Dance performance tickets!

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Zadie Smith Reads at Boston College

London-born novelist Zadie Smith teaches at NYU.

London-born novelist Zadie Smith teaches at NYU.

 

Zadie Smith, award-winning novelist, essayist, and short-story writer best known for her debut novel White Teeth, treated a wrapt Boston College audience to a reading of her new story, “Miss Adele Amidst the Corsets,” yesterday evening. Gasson 100 was full to bursting: eager listeners crowded at the back behind packed seating, pressed into the sides of the room, perching on the windows, clutching well-worn copies of White Teeth or NW, Smith’s latest novel. Excitement was palpable, a buzz reminiscent of English playgrounds in early 2000’s as copies of White Teeth were passed around like illicit cigarettes, taken home to be devoured in late-night reading binges. This installment of the Lowell Humanities Series  was initially scheduled to host Edwidge Dandicat, acclaimed Haitian-born novelist and nonfiction writer who was forced by unforeseen circumstances to withdraw from the event, asking Smith to take her place. The Boston literary community were certainly glad that Dandicat found an equally respected and illustrious writer as her short-notice replacement.

After apologizing in advance for attempting an American accent, Smith launched into “Miss Adele Amidst the Corsets” with very little foregrounding: we knew only that it was set in New York, the protagonist was an African American drag queen, and that we would be getting the whole story, no matter how long it took. It became clear early on that this would be, in fact, a masterclass in delivery, Smith alternating between Miss Adele’s sassy American quips and the narrator’s deep British tones in what became a seamless one-woman dramatic reading, all characters vocally distinct and fully embodied.

It wasn’t just the texture of voices that Smith conjured to animate her words that her audience found so compelling, it was the tissues of deeper lives poking up through the surface of the story, grounding the action in a denser sense of personal history, of the city’s history, revealed with the deftest of touches, and then quickly submerged again beneath a snappy one-liner. Miss Adele walks the freezing streets of New York, lamenting the partial gentrification of the neighborhood — why didn’t they go all the way instead of half-assing it? — and musing on her strict religious upbringing, her straight-laced brother living in Florida. Entering an unassuming and family-run corset shop, Miss Adele encounters a husband and wife bickering incessantly in a language she can’t understand, abysmal customer service, and her own aging body. Importantly, she is confronted by her own expectations of judgement and discrimination — her conviction that she can detect derision in spite of language barriers. Meaning, for Miss Adele, is universally felt. Making us laugh, making us think, making us sit deathly still  in order to catch every word, Smith delivered an exemplary literary performance.

Zadie Smith signed books for a long line of fans.

Zadie Smith signing books for a long line of fans.

Afterwards, the usual run-through of writer Q&A’s — where do your characters come from, and which writers do you admire — concluded with an unexpected non-question: a man stood up in the middle of the room and thanked Smith for writing; her influence made the world a better place, he said. The audience applauded their support of this statement, glad to leave Smith with something of the feeling she had left them. Later, at the signing table, Smith took her time, chatting at length with those who waited for a signature, diffusing these usually awkward exchanges with questions about her readers lives, leaving a lasting impression of a woman truly engaged with the world around her — unaffected, sincere.

“Miss Adele Amidst the Corsets” appears in the current issue of the Paris Review, which also features poetry by Smith’s husband, Nick Laird. The last in the Lowell Humanities Series for this semester takes place next Wednesday, April 9th, Gasson 100, and features Emma Donoghue.