‘Move to the Word’ combines poetry and dance

‘Move to the Word’ combines poetry and dance

Collaboration led to inspiration and then celebration for Move to the Word, an interdisciplinary set of performances combining the power of spoken word poetry with the power of dance. 

The event, which was held last month in the CFA’s Hale Theater, included readings from members of English Faculty Caroline Kautsire’s spoken word poetry class and performances from Upper School Performing Arts Faculty John Crampton’s dance students; the words informed the movement and vice versa. Setting the tone for the evening was Dr. Joshua Bennett, a Dartmouth professor and a current scholar-in-residence at Thayer, who performed his own spoken word poetry. 

Taking turns at the podium that night, Crampton and Kautsire explained the reasoning behind the complementary efforts among disciplines.

“We wanted to model for the students what collaboration between word and dance would look like,” said Crampton. 

Kautsire, who also performed her own poetry during the celebration, praised the bravery of those taking the stage to speak their particular truths. 

“They dare to be confident enough to express their deepest thoughts in front of an audience,” she said. 

Bennett kicked off the night by performing three of his own spoken word poems: “Token Sings the Blues,” which he started writing at age 17 but didn’t finish until age 30; “Balaenoptera,” a love poem inspired by an oceanography course he once took as an undergraduate; and “Self Portrait at 17,” a new poem he wrote during his time as a resident scholar at Thayer. That last poem, he said, offers a reflection on growing up and family but stems from his wild senior year of high school and how his father — a United States Marine and Vietnam veteran who was the first Black student to attend a previously segregated high school in Jim Crow Alabama — gave him both space and support during a difficult time. 

“My father made clear that I could never get so far away that he didn’t believe he could catch me, and I just think that made all the difference,” said Bennett. 

The artistic expression continued as the students took the stage. Some read their own poems, while others had their poems read by fellow students. Dance numbers to a variety of songs punctuated the readings as dancers performed solo or in groups. There were 15 performances in all. 

Student spoken word poetry included works by: Hugh Geraghty ‘23 (as performed by Leo Eschauzier ‘23); Emily Johnson ‘23; Mary Costello ‘23; Thomas Stapleton ‘23; Ava Deibel ‘23 (as performed by Virginia Thompson ‘23); Ty Mainini ‘23; Matt Miller ‘23; Peter Chen ‘23 (as performed by Matt O’ Connor ‘24); and Izabella Amonte ‘23 (as performed by Summer Perry ‘24). 

Student dancers included: Julia Fiorello ‘24, who performed to “Never Grow Up” by Taylor Swift; Clare LaMattina ‘24, who performed to “When We Were Young” by Adele; and Ceili Kornhaber ‘26, who danced to “Pacific” by Sleeping At Last. 

In addition, Abbie Dupie ‘26 and Paige Johnson ‘26 performed Kautsire’s poem “Small Bulletproof Messiah,” Tatiana Allen ‘23 performed Kautsire’s poem “A Woman’s Flex,” and a group of students joined Kautsire to perform her poem “I Am Woman.” 

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