Jonathan (Jono) Babbitt, Mitchell College assistant professor of performing arts, and his wife Allison Messier, Mitchell’s voice instructor, participated in a “car safari” this summer. It wasn’t in Africa but at Sunny Meadow Farm in Bridgewater, Connecticut. And there were no animals for visitors to watch but talented performers, including Jono and Allison!
The two joined the production BLOOM! with the renowned Pilobolus Dance Theatre in 76 performances over a five-day run. Jono said the format for this year’s production grew out of last year’s COVID restrictions around live performance. Limited groups of cars traveled along a road at the farm and stopped at various sites to watch short performances by the Pilobolus dancers, accompanied by singers and instrumentalists, including two pianos, a violin and a viola.
“We were on stage 10 hours each day, on a site that is so spectacular we should be paying for the view!” Jono said.
Jono conducted a chorus of 20 voices, singing the world premiere of his choral arrangement of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ art song Whither Must I Wander on a text of Robert Louis Stevenson, and Alison sang a solo piece.
Asked about how this experience affected him personally, he said, “The opportunity for artistic expression with like-minded singers, instrumentalists, dancers, choreographers, and technical support staff ranging in age from 12 to 85 – all in the service of a public desperately in need of live, personal performance art – refueled me in ways that are beyond description. As one attendee said to me as she stood in front of me weeping openly, ‘I had no idea how much I needed this experience.’ I am grateful beyond words.”
And watch for more with Pilobolus at Mitchell. The lead dancers and artistic directors are coming to work with Mitchell College Dance/Cheer to offer an example of their astounding and outstanding work. More to come…