Dance students rehearse for the annual Winter Dance Concert. Credit: Courtesy of Kimberly Wilczak

Dance students get to take control of their own destiny in their upcoming concert by choreographing their own pieces.

Twice a year, the Ohio State Department of Dance holds a performance featuring pieces choreographed by undergraduate and graduate students. This weekend, students will take the stage to showcase this original choreography for the department’s winter concert, which will feature 13 students’ original contemporary choreography.

In order to prepare for the performance, students with the deemed strongest choreography by the faculty are enrolled in a concert workshop class where they perform their pieces in front of their peers.

“Performing in front of their peers gives individuals an opportunity to receive feedback and critiques that can help improve their piece,” said Carolyn Cox, the department’s production manager.

One piece will feature the choreography of Todd Eckert, a graduate student in fine arts who will be presenting his master’s thesis piece.

The dance he coreographed, “Dance in the Gutter,” came about through his interest of syntax in comics.

“As we read comics, there tends to be implied action or implied emotions that only exist in the mind of the reader,” Eckert said. “These implied actions or feelings happen in the gutter of the comic, which is the white space between frames.”

He said he read comic books from the past 75 years, and then narrowed his subject material down to three decades. Eckert said the way this concept translates into dance is more subtle than one might expect.

“It comes down to the notion of making sense out of the dancing we’re watching, and how it pulls the viewer in, but leaves room for multiple interpretations,” he said.

The Winter Dance Concert will have shows on Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m. and on Saturday at 3 and 8 p.m. at Barnett Theatre in Sullivant Hall. Tickets are $10 for students and $15 for the general public.

“This show is strong and has a lot of great work in it,” Eckert said. “I’m really excited everyone gets the opportunity to perform together.”