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Dipping into Dance, Following the Flow of Hydropolitics

By Aaron Richmond-Havel 09F

“Water is a strong theme of my Division III,” said Nicole Loeffler-Gladstone, whose double-major approach at Hampshire made her feel as though she were living two independent lives in academia and art. “I’m writing a paper about a river and people’s access to it. But, I’m also interested in water for its myriad of psychological symbolisms.”

In “The woman who breathes underneath the water,” Loeffler-Gladstone’s Division III dance choreography, the physical presence and absence of water played a vital role. “Some dancers were able to access it, to dip into it to a certain extent, while others weren’t.”

Nicole Loeffler-Gladstone
As the main stage lit, with hues of both desert orange and cool blue, one dancer upstage clasped her wrist violently. Propping her hand under her jaw, she projected the feeling that it was a movement equal parts conscious and out of her control.

“A friend told me he saw it as someone choking themselves at first, and then as someone suffering from thirst,” Loeffler-Gladstone commented. “I find it really interesting when people watch my choreography and see references to environmental politics for themselves, because during the process I never really felt that literal connection.”

“I guess you could say the two fields [dance and environmental politics] inform each other in the sense that they’re both on my mind all the time,” Loeffler-Gladstone added. “I’ve had this kind of double life, pursuing work in economics and environmental science, policy analysis, and resource politics as well as dance.”

The resource politics half of Loeffler-Gladstone’s Division III work has culminated in a lengthy research paper on the hydropolitics of the Mekong River. Flowing through six nations in Southeast Asia, the river continues to be heavily dammed for hydroelectric power, leading to stressed diplomatic ties as many populations rely on its natural flow.

Although she admits it has been “challenging to juggle these realms of dance, environmental science, and social policy,” Loeffler-Gladstone’s story proves that one’s studies at Hampshire don’t have to be explicitly interdisciplinary to be successful.

Following graduation in May, her goal is to dance professionally for a company.

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