Ohio State Dance Students and Alumni Represent

American Dance Festival

The American Dance Festival (ADF) enjoys a reputation as one of the world’s greatest dance festivals. Long known as a haven for making new work, students, teachers, performers, choreographers and dance fans have been flocking to ADF to celebrate modern dance since 1934. The festival’s wide range of programs include performance, education, awards, community outreach, humanities projects, media projects and national and international initiatives.

Last summer ADF awarded BFA Dance Students Jacqueleen Bordjadze and Marissa Thomas with leadership scholarships and Alumna Dani Kfoury (BFA 2018) with a work-study position to attend ADF’s Summer Dance Intensive. BFA Dance Student Mia Williams used funds from Ohio State’s Second-year Transformational Experience Program (STEP) to attend the intensive.

"ADF was an amazing experience, because it gave me the ability to fully immerse myself into dance for the summer,” says Thomas. “Every day was an opportunity to not only take class, but to involve myself in a choreographic process, engage with other dancers and artists, have dialogue about dance and its intersection with social justice and so much more. The five-and-a-half weeks flew by, and after, I found myself with new growth, new friendships and connections, and a new sense of myself within the dance community."

“ADF allowed me to be completely immersed in everything dance for six weeks,” says Williams. “During the week, we attended our rigorous scheduled classes. I was able to take Afro-Modern from Clarice Young, a former company dancer/rehearsal director for Ronald K. Brown's company, Evidence, and contemporary with Christian von Howard, the Artistic Director of the Von Howard Project. I was also selected to learn Shen Wei Dance Arts repertory from former company member, Sara Procopio, and perform an excerpt of Map and Undivided Divided at an informal showing. Throughout the week, we were also able to attend additional movement and discussion-based classes. During the six weeks, we were able to see 18 different performances. I loved being surrounded by dance and people who adored dance as much as I. I left feeling inspired!” 

Jacob's Pillow

Jacob’s Pillow requires no introduction as a major player in the international dance scene. The prestigious festival draws thousands of people from around the world to celebrate dance at this national treasure and Ohio State Dance had a commanding presence there last summer.

BFA Student Mason Chapello and Alumna Caroline Haidet (BFA 2018) worked with the Staff Videographer Nel Shelby as video documentation interns at the Pillow. Their responsibilities included filming performances, classes, events, rehearsals, lectures and editing promotional videos. Excerpts are included in the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive and social media channels. “Working as a video documentation intern under Nel Shelby, my supervisor, has been a dream,” says Chapello. “The fact that she owns what is probably the best-known dance video production company is pretty remarkable. I’ve been following her career for quite some time, so being able to learn from her on a daily basis is truly a blessing.” “This summer as a Video Documentation Intern at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival has been indescribable,” adds Haidet. “Being immersed into a fast-paced work environment and surrounded by world renowned dance all summer has allowed me to grow as an artist and young professional in the dance community. The relationships I’ve built and knowledge I’ve gained because of Jacob’s Pillow has been truly career-escalating.” 

PhD Candidate and Presidential Fellow Janet Schroeder served as scholar-in-residence at Jacob’s Pillow where she contextualized the work of the festival’s mainstage artists through pre-show lectures, post-performance discussions and essays in the concert programs.

“This was my second summer working as scholar-in-residence at Jacob’s Pillow. It was my pleasure to introduce audiences to the concerts by Dorrance Dance and Compañía Sharon Fridman, but there’s more to being at the Pillow than completing my job,” says Schroeder. “It is thrilling to be surrounded by incredible dancers and dance fans; to see at least six distinct performance programs each week on the mainstages, the outdoor stage, and in various sites around the Pillow grounds; and to have access to historical artifacts and videos, some of which are more than a century old. As a space where dancers gather today and as an important site of dance history, Jacob’s Pillow is a vital place for thinking, writing and talking about dance!”

In addition to performing her duties as scholar-in-residence, Schroeder had the opportunity to pursue her own research agenda of examining rhythm tap dance and Appalachian step dance in concert dance contexts, particularly on the stages at the Pillow.

Alumnus Daniel Diller (BFA 2014) celebrated his fifth year on the staff at Jacob’s Pillow last summer as the Ted Shawn Theatre Associate Production Manager. “In that time, I've worked with over 50 different dance companies,” says Diller. “I've met and produced shows with Australians, Koreans, Chinese, Belgians, Israelis, Danes, French, English, Italians, Brazilians, Cubans and more. I've worked on dance across the full spectrum of styles, from flamenco, to gaga, to Jerome Robbins. But beyond all of that, Jacob's Pillow changed my life in ways I never thought it would. This is where I met my first real boss after college and every other job I've had since then came through someone I met here. This is where I've met some of my closest friends and most respected colleagues in the field. And it was here that I met, proposed to and married my wife. I came here looking to learn and make connections that would lead to a job, but I'm leaving with a family I never expected to have and experiences I wouldn't trade for the world."

PhD Candidate Lyndsey Vader continued her summer studies as a Jacob’s Pillow research fellow. “Returning to Jacob’s Pillow for a second consecutive year as a research fellow afforded me the opportunity to deepen my research inquiries surrounding contemporary immersive performance practices,” says Vader. “Conversations shared with Faye Driscoll and her company, alongside critical analysis of her Thank You for Coming series through performance, rehearsal and workshop attendance helps to construct a more nuanced understanding of the company’s approach to artmaking and experimental audience strategies. Additionally, I benefited from the rich historical documentation found in the Jacob’s Pillow Archives and public talks led by Pillow Scholars-in-Residence. This research trip was funded in part through generous support from Alumni Grants for Graduate Research and Scholarship (AGGRS) and Jacob's Pillow.” 

Alumnae Anna Vomacka (BFA 2017) and Maddie Leonard-Rose (BFA 2017) also performed with the ensemble for Faye Driscoll’s Thank You for Coming: Play at the Pillow. “It was such a treat to be a part of Faye Driscoll’s Thank You For Coming: Play at Jacob’s Pillow this summer,” says Leonard-Rose. “We got to rehearse and perform with the company for their entire run in the beautiful, historic Doris Duke theatre. My week was made even sweeter by spending time with members of the Ohio State Dance family, all doing amazing things at the Pillow. It was such a welcome surprise to reconnect with each of them.” “Being at Jacobs Pillow was like entering a world solely dedicated to dance,” adds Vomacka. “Every building, every inch of the property is rich with dance histories, both written and felt. It was a privilege to be in the studio daily with Faye Driscoll and her company absorbing how she tended to her work and experiencing the level of commitment from her performers/co-creators. I witnessed the un-doing and re-doing of moments in the piece I began to hold so tenderly.” 

Urban Bush Women Summer Leadership Institute

MFA Candidate Jazelynn Goudy, PhD Candidate Lyndsey Vader and Alumna Cyrah Ward (BFA 2018) participated in the Urban Bush Women (UBW) Summer Leadership Institute (SLI) at Arizona State University in Phoenix, Arizona in July 2018. The 10-day intensive serves as the foundation for all of UBW’s community engagement activities by connecting dance professionals with community-based artists. With this year’s theme of “You, Me, We: Understanding Internalized Racial Oppression and How it Manifests in Our Artistic Community,” SLI partnered with The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond to tackle the challenges of racism in the arts by empowering the dance community with tools to facilitate change.

“The Urban Bush Women Summer Leadership Institute 2018 created a container to take a deep dive into internalized racial oppression,” says Vader. “New pathways emerge as I continue to digest the ways systemic racism impresses upon bodies, communities, institutions, organizing and our artmaking. Attendance at UBW SLI furthered my dissertation research by offering the opportunity to consider how artists teach community artmaking practices and how these approaches intersect with experimental audience strategies in a performance context. This research trip was funded in part through generous support from Urban Bush Women’s scholarship program and Alumni Grants for Graduate Research and Scholarship (AGGRS). May we manifest the beyond in all its present(ness).”