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Ohio State dancers to display range of styles onstage in ‘Winter Concert: Shifting Focus’

Daniel Chi / Asst. photo editor


On a well-worn basketball court with the smell of the nearby dining hall drifting up through the vents, dancers and choreographers fretted over costumes and technical issues with their iPods. They were busy with a dress rehearsal for the upcoming winter performance.

“Shifting Focus,” the Ohio State Department of Dance’s winter concert, has performances scheduled Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. in 316 Pomerene Hall.

The concert will consist of 12 original works, choreographed and performed by undergraduate and graduate students in dance. The themes of the dances range from identity issues to how humans share space. This diversity of themes and personalities lead to the name “Shifting Focus,” said Dave Covey, a professor in the dance department and one of the show’s producers.

Crystal Irvin, a fourth-year in dance, adapted her piece “Forward” from a work she choreographed for a previous class, but said this time it was more about having fun and incorporating the theme of the song into the dance.

“Where I just totally ignored the song (previously), and it was just you know, I had to make the movement and the music match, and this time it was more like OK now it can just be fun,” Irvin said. 

Covey estimated 47 students are involved with the production. Most of the students have been working on their pieces since September.

Covey’s primary responsibility with the students is providing feedback on their work and encouraging them to think about different perspectives, he said.

“I think a lot of choreographers, especially young ones, think they know more about their work than they really do,” he said. “So I try to ask questions to make them go, ‘Oh I didn’t think about that.'” 

However, he said he tries not to impose his own ideas on students.

“I want their voice to be heard, and I’m just kind of there to help develop their voice and make sure that they explore as many options as they can,” he said.

Some choreographers said they appreciate the feedback from Covey and their peers.

“You come into this with material you’ve worked on for quite some time, and showing it to other people and getting direct feedback, that always introduces a new thought,” said Elyse Morckel, a third-year in dance.

While the concert was forced to relocate from Sullivant Hall due to construction two years ago, Covey said the space in Pomerene has worked well.

“I love producing in that space,” he said. “We in dance know how to make the best with minimal resources.” 

The gymnasium also requires students to think about their work from all angles, since the audience will be seated on chairs set up on all four sides of the stage.

Another challenge for the choreographers is directing their peers. Irvin is pulling double-duty, as she will be dancing in her piece as well as choreographing it, and she said this makes it even harder to correct her dancers.

“It’s been really challenging just because I’m actually in it, and it’s so much easier to choreograph when you’re able to watch it,” she said.

Adam Houston, a third-year in dance, said he also found it difficult to be authoritative with his friends, but he merged their mistakes into the dance.

“Honestly I like their mistakes,” Houston said. “When they would mess something up I’d be like, ‘No keep that,’ and we would move out of that and go from there.” 

Covey said audiences should expect a wide range of styles and should come with an open mind and not try to necessarily “get it.”

Tickets are $5 through the OSU Theatre Box Office, located on the 2nd floor of the Drake Performance & Event Center at 1849 Cannon Drive and can also be purchased at the door, while available.

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