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Ohio State dancers to spread spring performances over campus

Courtesy of Ellen Maynard

Renovations to its usual venue aren’t stopping Ohio State’s Department of Dance from showcasing its work this spring. 

The Spring Dance Festival is scheduled to begin Thursday, and because of renovations to Sullivant Hall, the usual location of the spring concert, the Department of Dance had to think outside of the box for a new venue. 

The Department of Dance came up with different venues for the Spring Dance Festival. A show of site-specific work will take the audience to six different places on campus to see dance performances, and there will be performances in the Experimental Media and Movement Arts (EMMA) Lab at the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD) on West Campus that incorporate dance and media technology.

Although there will be multiple performances at each location, there is no unifying theme to all of the pieces.

Emily Jones, a fourth-year in dance and anthropological sciences, is set to perform a piece called “Necessarily Together/We Persist” at the second stop on the site performance route: on the grass next to Mirror Lake near Neil Avenue. She said she drew her inspiration from a study abroad trip she took last summer to Ghana.

“After I went to Ghana, I was really inspired by the significance of dance in the country,” Jones said. “It’s just a really beautiful thing, the power that dance has there to bring the community together.”

Bekah Edie, a fourth-year in dance, incorporated her minor in women’s, gender and sexuality studies into her piece, “(Man)ipulation,” which is set to be performed in the EMMA Lab.

“My interest in feminist and gender theory informed a lot of my choreography, thinking about how women’s bodies are hypersexualized and objectified in the media,” Edie said.

Shannon Drake, a second-year in dance, and Tammy Carrasco, a graduate student in dance, both said the sites where their dances will be performed served as their inspiration.

“The inspiration is absolutely the space,” Carrasco said. 

Drake choreographed “Fishbox,” which is set to be performed near Jennings Hall. Carrasco’s piece “Floating Field” is set to be performed on the RPAC’s racquetball court during the show of site performances. 

But no matter the inspiration, all agreed that not performing in a traditional theater was challenging.

“I have been working with live music, and it’s really hard to … get the electricity out there,” Jones said. “We wouldn’t normally have that (problem) in a theater.” 

Carrasco said she faced similar challenges on the racquetball court.

“It’s been a challenge to negotiate how to project sound in such a huge space,” Carrasco said. 

Edie also agreed that working with technology was a challenge for her at the EMMA Lab.

“You’re constantly troubleshooting,” Edie said.

Drake said her main challenge was rehearsing outside, especially when it was cold.

“I’ve had very little time to actually spend time in the space because of the weather,” she said. 

Despite the challenges, Edie said there are benefits to performing in new venues.

“In EMMA, the audience is literally like two feet away from where the dance is happening, so it creates this super intimate environment that I don’t think you can get in a traditional theater,” Edie said. 

Carrasco said she appreciates how site pieces can draw in passers-by. 

“I’m most looking forward to the people we will pick up along the way,” Carrasco said.

Drake agreed.

“People shouldn’t be afraid to tag on to the audience,” Drake said. “It’s for everyone.” 

Performances of the site works are scheduled for Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m., beginning in Pomerene Hall Room 316. Performances at the EMMA Lab are scheduled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. All performances are free, but reservations are required for the performances at the EMMA Lab and can be made on the Department of Dance’s website. 

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