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Ohio State Department of Dance experienced Denmark for first time

15 Ohio State dance students were selected for an exclusive five-and-a-half week dance program in Denmark this summer. Credit: Chris Summers

Fifteen students from Ohio State’s Department of Dance traveled to Denmark in a new program called Dance Denmark.

This 5 ½ week journey –– from May 28 to July 6 –– allowed students to not only be immersed into the Danish culture, but also participate in performances.

Program director Ann Sofie Clemmensen, a visiting assistant professor at Ohio State, founded the program and saw a chance to provide her students with a distinct experience in her home country.

“I think it’s important to give students the opportunity to travel abroad,” Clemmensen said. “And I wanted to show them my little country.”

Denmark held its largest sports and cultural festival, Landsstævnet, this past summer in Aalborg. So when Clemmensen had the opportunity to allow her students to perform at International GymNight on June 30 during the festival, she decided to create DANCE Denmark.

The two dances performed at International GymNight were contemporary styles titled “RIDE” and “INGEMINATE.”

Paige St. John, a third-year in dance, performed in “INGEMINATE” with the 14 other students on the trip. Hazel Black, a third-year in dance, directed the piece.  

“I personally liked that we were all dancing together,” St. John said. “It brought us a lot closer.”

Anthony Milian, a fourth-year in dance, said the performance was jolting and slightly dark, but still “felt like it created strength for the entire group.”

The trip wasn’t just International GymNight, though. The group stayed through the Fourth of July for the largest Independence Day festival outside the U.S., Rebild Festival, in Rebild National Park. Four students, including St. John, performed a dance titled “Reverb.”

“It was a really cool opportunity because we weren’t only representing our school and OSU, but our country,” St. John said. “It was bittersweet since it was our last performance … but it was so exciting to be performing that we could not wipe the smiles off our faces.”

Prior to these three large performances the students were able to take classes and workshops on commercial street dance, a popular hip-hop style in Denmark, by partnering with Gerlev Sports Academy — an institution focused on teaching movement and sports.

“It gave those students who really had interest in that sort of blend between art and commercial, an opportunity to see what that [style] is and work with really renowned choreographers and teachers,” Clemmensen said.

Students were able to work with professionals like Ida Frost, a Danish jazz and hip-hop dancer, and Tine Salling, a Danish dancer and choreographer who focuses on street-styled dance. 

“Being able to study at a sports academy was really interesting because I found that all the Danish [people] are very intelligent physically,” Milian said. “It was very humbling, and it put such an importance on wellness and well-being.”

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