The students have all gone home, but the CA campus is still buzzing with activity this summer.
In the Student Health and Athletic Center (SHAC) close to one hundred advanced-level dancers have gathered for the 15th year of the award-winning Summer Stages Dance at Concord Academy program. This three-week intensive program is aimed at students of contemporary dance and includes workshops on technique, performance skills, and repertory as well as the Choreographers’ Project in which workshop dancers participate in the creation of new work under the guidance of fellowship recipients.
On a recent morning in the SHAC, dancers fill every available space on the second floor. Dozens of girls are stretching on the floor, and groups of boys are clustered together talking. In the airy dance studio, choreographer Sean Curran implores the thirty-seven assembled dancers to “fill in every space you can,” as they work on transitions for Curran’s contemporary urban dance , Left Exit/10 Beginnings, as part of his Repertory Workshop. “They are taking my structure but hanging their creative work on it,” says Curran. “This workshop is about the creative process.”
The dancers have been encouraged to develop their own movements which will eventually be incorporated into the larger piece.
The young dancers move deliberately across the floor toward each other, as Curran offers them another reminder. “This is not the Sharks and the Jets,” he tells them. “Don’t confront each other—just circle around.” They will work on this movement again and again as the morning turns into afternoon.
The workshop will culminate in a performance at the Barbara Lee Theater at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston as part of the Choreographers’ Project Showcase. In addition to the students, leading contemporary dance artists and choreographers are in residence teaching and performing, including Rashaun Mitchell ’96, former member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.
Outside the SHAC, two-hundred and eighty-eight Concord Academy campers swarm the campus on a typical day during an eight-week period in the summer. More than one hundred counselors accompany those campers everywhere they go. The unmistakable summer smell of suntan lotion and bug spray seems to be everywhere.
The boys and girls, some from as far away as South Korea, take part in activities that range from archery, to tennis to drama to canoeing. There are also specialized camps for almost every interest.
The camp is helmed by Camp Director Greg Jutkiwecz who spends as little time in his camp office as possible during the day, preferring to engage with campers and counselors alike. “I like to say camp could happen in a parking lot with a paper bag with the right staff,” says Jutkiwecz. “They have to genuinely love what they do and love to be around kids and have a good time.”
Luckily, the CA campers don’t have to test the ‘paper bag’ theory because they can take advantage of the facilities at CA. On a recent morning, a group of campers gathered around the pottery wheel in an art studio to try their hand at ceramics, a set of six-year-olds engaged in a spirited game of “Fishy, Fishy, Cross My Ocean” on the Quad, another group worked on science experiments in a CA lab, and still more campers swam in the pool, canoed on the river, and soared from a trapeze in Circus Arts Camp.
For Jutkiewicz, a successful summer season can measured in a very simple way: “How many lives we’ve touched, that’s the key.”