Orient: Trials and Tribs in Tights

AG39 - Orient: Trials and Tribs in Tights

AG39 - Orient: Trials and Tribs in Tights

Bowdoin Dance

Orient Article: October 22, 1971

Is it any surprise that the origin of Dance at Bowdoin coincides with the presence of female students on campus? Prior to 1970, Bowdoin College did not provide male students (or the few female exchange students from the 12-College Exchange) the opportunity to pursue Dance on campus.

In the Spring of 1970, then teacher at Brunswick High School, June Vail and Marcy Playvin, a dance instructor at Bates at the time, teamed up to offer eight weeks of dance classes on a subscription basis to college –related people. Bowdoin did not officially sponsor the program but did provide a space in the gym.

The following year June Vail contacted Dean A. Leroy Greason about teaching Dance at Bowdoin on a similar subscription basis. In the 1971-1977 Review of the Bowdoin Dance Program, Vail recalls having said that such a course would “provide the women students arriving in 1971-72 with a program that satisfied a demand for recreational, physical exercise and a demand for dance as an art form”.

Vail was hired in a salaried position and taught three 90-minute classes in the fall semester of 1971. The classes were offered as part of the Physical Education department. Thirty five students enrolled in the first class, though most students were first-years or exchange students. The Orient article [DocumentAG, 39] is from the first year that Bowdoin Dance was offered to the student body.

The department eventually grew and secured stable sources of funding. This allowed for the purchase of dance related books and subscriptions to two periodicals, Dance Magazine and Dance Perspective. Today, dance classes are run out of the Department of Theater and Dance, which Vail helped to establish in 1994. Bowdoin currently only offers Dance as a minor.

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