With themes of isolation and loss but also humor and celebration, this spring’s Dance Concert explores life’s extremes. Last spring, Dance Concert was the last major event on campus before Milton had to shut down due to the pandemic. This year, the event is fully virtual with more than 40 student dancers who will perform 15 dances choreographed by students.
“It’s a smaller show, but feels like a bigger undertaking because of the way we are producing it,” says Kelli Edwards, Performing Arts Department chair.
The performance showcases modern dance, ballet, Latin dance, and an Irish dance. All the dances are being filmed—some in person on the King Theatre stage, some in more of a dance film format, and others in a Zoom format with dancers individually in their spaces. Edwards says the student choreographers have “embraced the format and are utilizing all the ways they can film.”
Edwards says faculty member Evan DelGaudio has been her key partner in managing the production and editing of all the films. With some dancers remote and others in person, but on campus at different times, Edwards says, “any plans we had about rehearsing and filming have had to change and evolve numerous times.”
Despite the tricky logistics, Edwards says she is happy that they met their main goal, which was to make sure the “shows were accessible to any students as performers or as technical supporters, no matter where they are in the world. It was important that the equity was there.”
Dance Concert will be available to view from Thursday March 4 at 7:00 p.m. EST to Monday March 8 at 8:00 a.m. EST. There will be a link available on www.milton.edu from Thursday evening through Monday morning. There will also be a viewing party on Friday evening March 5 at 8:00 p.m. EST .
A wildly popular musical and an opportunity to perform original poetry are slated as productions from the Performing Arts Department this spring.
Auditions have begun for High School Musical, a stage production of a 2006 Disney Channel movie that chronicles the behind-the-scenes comedy and drama of putting on a high school show. Co-directed by faculty members Eleza Kort and Peter Parisi, the production will be a true collaboration by teachers in the department.
“This is a show that’s familiar to a large percentage of, if not the entire, student body, and it has a message of inclusion and acceptance,” Parisi said. “We wanted something that would appeal to actors and audiences, something that would allow us to work in person and remotely. We decided to collaborate, and as the project picks up steam, we’re adding more and more folks to work on it from both in the community and outside Milton.”
Faculty members Dar Anastas, Evan DelGaudio, and Shane Fuller comprise the tech team, Performing Arts Department Chair Kelli Edwards is choreographing the show, and Pam Walker will make costumes, said Kort. A music director from outside of Milton will also work on the show. The musical will be filmed, partially on campus and partially from remote students’ homes, due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Filming the show has some advantages, Kort said, including having some students play smaller roles without conflicting with their other commitments and using the backdrop of campus for settings.
“We will be recording it for a number of reasons, one of which is that it’s not safe to do an in-person performance quite yet,” Kort said. “It’s also a way to be equitable for students no matter where they are, whether they’re remote, hybrid, or on campus. We can include anyone anywhere in the world if we do it like this.”
High School Musical will run from May 20 through May 22.
Another May performance will be a spoken-word show directed by faculty member Patrice Jean-Baptiste; auditions will begin in early March. Students are invited to write their own poetry and perform it—Jean-Baptiste will guide them on effective reading and delivery.
Jean-Baptiste had previously taught a spoken-word course, but this year was asked to open it up to a School-wide performance. She is considering expanding invitations to adults in the community as well as students, she said.
“Spoken word is a poetic medium for speaking your voice, for speaking your heart out loud,” she said. “This is writing poetry and sharing it in performance, so you’re adding power, passion, and meaning to your words. It’s super engaging and requires some willingness to share and to be honest and vulnerable.”
The spoken-word show will likely be recorded and shared in May, with the possibility of an outdoor performance if conditions allow, Jean-Baptiste said.
Three students casually singing together their freshman year have turned into an established trio with more than 43,000 subscribers on their YouTube channel. Henry Wilde ’21 and Conner Hartman ’21 became friends in freshman math class and they often discussed their common interest in music. Although Wilde and Hartman did not consider themselves singers, both knew Dash Evett ’21 was one, and the three decided to perform together at that spring’s Beatnik, an open mic event run by students.
At the beginning, they focused on singing covers. “After our first Beatnik, we basically would meet during all our free periods, singing in a room in Kellner,” said Wilde. “Over time, we developed a style. We would spend about two months arranging a song, improvising on it.”
When the pandemic forced everyone to quarantine in their homes, the trio decided to start a YouTube channel as a way for friends and family to hear their music. Hartman says when he loaded up the first video, a cover of “The Misty Mountains Cold” from The Hobbit movie, he typed in their group name as misty., all lowercase with a period at the end, and their official name was born. The video was recorded in a tunnel, which amplified their acoustic voices. Viewership took off after that.
Songs by Ed Sheeran, Simon and Garfunkel, Billie Eilish (one of their favorites), and even a sea shanty followed. They also started writing original songs. “The challenge for us is to write music that retains meaning for all of us, not just the individual, and still resonates with the listeners,” says Hartman.
One benefit of recording during the pandemic is that they learned how to expedite their process working remotely—what once took two months can now take a few days. Usually, they work together late into the night when they are done with homework.
On YouTube, they have found a warm and supportive community and they actively engage with fan comments. Of course, there are the few outlying critics, but Evett says that in the end, “We are our own harshest critics. But we always have each other’s back.”
The three are planning to write a full original album for their senior project and use that time to continue to grow as artists. They also hope to continue their collaboration even though they will be heading in different directions next year.