Faculty Spotlight: Mitchell Rose

One Ohio State Dance Professor and 42 Choreographers Partner to Create an Ode to Dance, Exquisite Corps

Mitchell Rose, associate professor of dance-filmmaking, recently created a dance-film, Exquisite Corps, which has gone viral in the dance world. After just one month the video has 900,000 views.

Exquisite corpse is a literary form where a story is passed from writer to writer, each picking up where the previous left off. Rose was inspired by this idea, and created a dance version of it. Exquisite Corps is the fourth and final in Rose’s film series all using an editing technique he calls hyper-matchcutting, where every adjacent edit is aligned perfectly in position and continuity.

“Hyper-matchcutting has a powerful visual effect of creating equalization,” he said.

Rose explained that when a new image takes the place of an old image with the same continuity of action it's saying these things are equal. He used this idea several years ago in his film, Globe Trot, which represented a statement of unity across people of the world. Globe Trot has won 13 festival awards.

The new six-minute Exquisite Corps includes the involvement of 42 well-known American contemporary choreographers. Rose hoped to create an ode to the connectedness within a broad community of artists who share a common goal. Each choreographer participated in Rose’s process that honored differences and eccentricities.

Rose sent the accumulated video to each choreographer and they were told to video two to 10 seconds of themselves dancing based off the previous performer. Rose sent a manual out to every participant with an alignment grid to help with exact positioning from one person to the next.

The film took two years to make because as Rose relied on each choreographer to do his or her part, he had to wait for them to deliver the footage. Though each participant was responsible for finding a cameraperson to shoot their section, by February of this year Rose was anxious to keep the project moving, so he went to New York himself and filmed six people in two days including Meredith Monk, Elizabeth Streb and others.

“That really brought a much needed momentum to the project,” he added.

To keep that pace up, OSU Dance alumna and Brooklyn-based dance-filmmaker Ellen Maynard began shooting sections for the project.

In April, Rose shot the final section as the dance came full circle back to the Department of Dance's own Barnett Theatre lobby. This closed the dance as it had begun with Professor Bebe Miller.

Los Angeles composer Robert Een then created the upbeat score that accompanies the film.

Is Rose pleased with the results?

“In Exquisite Corps, as I did in Globe Trot, I again wanted to portray a unity, but this time amongst the community of choreographers,” he said. “Choreographers are members of a great family, a family bound together by an indomitable passion for dance, and the shared experience of trial by sweat.”