By Angelica Bell (MFA 2018)
The School Tour Group, led by Lecturer Eddie Taketa and Angelica Bell (MFA 2018), performed in eleven K-12 Columbus schools in March 2018. Part of Angelica Bell’s MFA final project, the tour consisted of works made by eight student choreographers: Angelica Bell, Julia Ayau, Hazel Black, Biag Gaongen, Jazelynn Goudy, Fenella Kennedy, Lexi Stilianos and Calder White. Each choreographer focused on personal and artistic identities and rehearsed their relatively short pieces in four repertory rehearsals. The pieces incorporated Western contemporary concert dance, Odissi, tap, hip hop, West African and tai chi forms.
Most children in the K-12 schools learn about dance within a global context and have been exposed to Western concert dance performances. Bell’s idea for her MFA project began with a critical reflection on the need for representation of diverse movement forms in Ohio State Dance. She also saw a need for mutually beneficial relationship building between Ohio State undergraduate students and local schools. The tour served undergraduates with performance, teaching and administrative experiences while offering school children dance education and insight into life as a collegiate dancer.
The Ohio State dancers taught at a few schools before they began touring. The teaching component of this tour experience was optional, but nearly all of the cast elected to participate. Bell offered pedagogy training to the Ohio State dancers and required them to submit their lesson plans in advance for feedback. They focused their lessons on creative dance making and connected content to our concert's theme. Ohio State dancers continued teaching follow-up dance lessons in April.
The School Tour Group nurtured connections between the Ohio State Dance and Columbus City Schools for future collaboration. Ohio State students answered a variety questions about artistic choices in the program and life as a college student. They had some extra time at Fort Hayes High School, so choreographer Jazelynn Goudy spontaneously offered to teach a house-based class. The students and Fort Hayes' dance teacher enthusiastically engaged with Jazelynn's class and even sparred in a friendly dance battle. At Ashton Middle School, Ohio State dancers visited the after-school program, where students shared their dances and their goals to become first-generation college students pursuing careers in performing arts.