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The Hopkins Center

Orientation at Dartmouth was a flurry of introductions, locations, and activities ranging from camping to bingo. But out of the many talks and group meetings, a particular one stood out: a discussion panel with the creators of a new performance called The Ritual of Breath. An intricate depiction of the complicated emotions associated with US police brutality against African Americans, the performance was told to be a combination of paintings, poetry, dance, and music. As the first of many performances and shows offered at the Hopkins Center (the Hop for short), Dartmouth's performance center, freshmen were given free tickets to the show. I checked it out the Saturday after classes started.

As a closet theater nerd, I had never seen the stage and music used so experimentally and effectively. The orchestra consisted of a few instruments, and they played chilling, dissonant music as a singer operatically sang lines from poetry written by Vievee Elaure Francis, who is a poet and an associate professor of English and Creative Writing at the college. The stage itself was an active participant in the show, the light and projections constantly manipulated to create a shifting atmosphere. In the end, the message was uplifting and thought-provoking: what role do we hold in the country and world for pursuing justice and equity? I found the experience an eye-opening experience, not just into the potential of the craft of theater, but also about Dartmouth's dedication to introducing spaces for open discussion.

The discussion board filled out by attendees of the show
The discussion board filled out by attendees of the show.

Watching other community members outside of Dartmouth visiting the Hop was another great experience. Since the Hop is the main performance center for Hanover, not just for Dartmouth, students and members of the community alike sit in Spaulding Auditorium to appreciate the arts. Dartmouth is integrated with Hanover in so many ways, with people walking through Berry Library and perusing the books, elementary students taking advantage of free food from clubs, and parents taking their children to play tag on the Green. The Hop is yet another way that Dartmouth connects to the Upper Valley.

Inside of the Top of the Hop
It's also a great study spot!

The Hop has a multitude of different, world-class performances in each term, ranging from dances to movies to classical music; at the time I am writing this blog, they are showing films from the Telluride Film Festival! Not only are performances a short walk away from my dorm, but Dartmouth students also get a discount to all the shows: every performance is $10 or less, no matter the original ticket price (the difference depends on who's organizing it). Looking at the performance calendar for the fall term, I know that I'll be making the most of this opportunity, from operas to piano solos. Because the Hop will soon undergo renovation for the next few years, I plan to take full advantage of our performance center before it's time to leave for a while.

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