Through generous support from the office of the vice provost for the arts, Chair Charles O. Anderson launched a new summer pilot program, The HATCH (HOLISTIC APPROACHES to TRANSFORMATIVE CHOREOGRAPHY) INCUBATOR.
HATCH intends to provide a space to consider choreography as not only as product, but a process to understand our world. This summer, Chair Anderson engaged a group of 13 dancers to conduct research for his new commission with Dayton Contemporary Dance Company and in August, new Assistant Professors Irvin Manuel Gonzalez and Alfonso Cervera will be in residency. Summer 2024, will be the official launch of HATCH with a world renowned contemporary choreographer who will be in residence over the summer and further engaging with the Department of Dance throughout the academic year. Department Chair Charles O. Anderson said, “The Ohio State University Department of Dance is striving to be a premiere hub of innovative contemporary and experimental dance invested in liberatory transformation within a city and state with profound resources in support of the arts. To that end, we are developing a new curricular model that couples academic course offerings with multiweek summer intensive training during summer sessions 1, 2 and 3 that could allow an undergraduate to complete a BFA in three years and two summers and MFA candidates to complete their program in two years and one to two summers. Ohio State Dance consistently ranks as one of the top dance departments in the country and holds a longstanding reputation as a leader in the field. Many university dance programs are considered “The Best” in published rankings but few of these published rankings address the question: ‘The best for whom?’ Conservatory programs—which tend to claim the top spots on any ranking for university dance programs—may not have other options for students who want to transition into or combine other tracks, like arts administration, scholarship, design, technology and film or education. There are still distinct differences between conservatory programs that may not be reflected in rankings. And most relevant to our current departmental mission and vision- most of these programs do not centralize critical pedagogical approaches in service to liberatory praxis to inform their curricula and performance programming wholistically. We wish to self-determine what it means to be great or ‘the best’ within a 21st century context. Over the past six years the department has made an intentional effort to diversify and decolonize our engagement with ‘technique,’ what it means to prepare our students professionally, and the ways we approach interdisciplinarity. We have been thinking about why and how we achieve this ranking based on the aforementioned criteria in an effort to reflect the pluralistic aesthetics of the dance industry and related fields of dance studies and education. HATCH is our strategy to not only distinguish ourselves as a department of dance, but also draw attention to the rich arts programing and support here in Columbus and in Ohio.”
In order to help our students to be able to take advantage of HATCH and all of our new summer programming, scholarship support will be crucial. Additionally, in order to garner the caliber of artists we are recruiting to be resident choreographers for HATCH we will need considerable funding to support their beyond the support we are receiving from the vice provost’s office.
With the successful launch of the Ohio State Dance Summer Intensive as initiated by Ohio State Dance Professor Dr. Nyama-McCarthy Brown at the request of local Columbus City School dance teachers who voiced a need for their students to connect to the department, we are excited to be expanding our plans to offer even more summer activities. The department again hosted the one-week non-residential Summer Dance Intensive June 5-9, 2023 for high school students. The intensive included classes in movement practice, repertory and choreography, with additional sessions about dance in college. Intensive students took one contemporary and one African movement practice class, one choreography class and one repertory class each day. They discovered many ways to continue dancing in college, connected with current college dance students, toured the campus and learned about its many resources and prepared a sharing and showing about the intensive on Friday. All classes were taught by current Department of Dance faculty and graduate associates, with several Ohio State Dance majors serving as student leaders. The Summer Dance Intensive is an essential and important part of our ongoing recruitment process in the interest of building a robust incoming class that reflects of our ideals of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice. “With a focus on diversifying the Department of Dance in a way that resembles the demographics of Columbus, Ohio; we seek to offer dance to young people in the Columbus area, who are already engaged in dance programming, but may not see it as a viable path for post-secondary education,” says Dr. McCarthy-Brown. “In addition, we want to position Ohio State as a post-secondary opportunity that is accessible to members of the local community.” Past intensives have been a great success. In 2021, we had 33 applicants, 28 students attended; in 2022, we had 25 applicants, 22 attended; and in 2023, we had 30 applicants and 26 attended. All students who demonstrated a need for financial aid received financial support, thanks to the support of our generous sponsors, including: The Ohio State University Department of Dance, Stand Up for Shakespeare, Provost Arts Project, and the Global Arts + Humanities Discovery Theme.
In summer 2022, the program included a second week of morning technique classes and then a focused repertory experience for the Archiving Black Performance Summer Program, under the leadership of Ohio State Dance Professors Crystal Michelle Perkins and Dr. Valarie Williams. The Archiving Black Performance Summer Program is part of the collaborative project Archiving Black Performance: Memory, Embodiment, and Stages of Being, which establishes a vision for the transmission of identity and race through the embodiment of dance repertory acquisition of internationally acclaimed black women dance performers. The project team aims to elevate, via performance, oral history, archival research, summer workshops, digital preservation and communication methods, and publication, historic dances of black women performers as represented through black lives and black bodies. The focus is on solo, duet, and small group works staged, performed, or choreographed by/for black women early in the creation process. The 2022 Archiving Black Performance Summer Program was supported by the Global Arts + Humanities Discovery Theme (GAHDT), the Seed Fund for Racial Justice Grant from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and from the Mellon-funded Humanities Without Walls.
In collaboration with RawYoga614, Ohio State Dance Professor Dr. Tanya Calamoneri is working toward creating a summer yoga teacher certification program for our students, to be announced on our website. The program will give students a chance to work with Yaizmen Fayne and see if becoming a yoga teacher is a path they would like to follow. Yaizmen Fayne is the co-founder of RawYoga614, a Black-owned yoga studio in Columbus, OH. Yaizmen also founded Black Yoga Collective, a non-profit created to support yogis of color around the world. She holds a MA in Education and BA in Business; her partner Derrick Bond holds an MA in African American History and a BA in Financial Management and Communications. Through their studio, RawYoga614, they emphasize the healing power of combining yoga, music, open dialogue and self-inquiry, and also in sharing those tools for everyone to incorporate in everyday life. RawYoga614 has extensive experience working with K-12 students, including at the following schools: Columbus Arts & Technology Academy, Columbus Downtown HS, Hannah Ashton Middle (Reynoldsburg), Hilliard City Schools LEAD Program, Liberty Elementary, Taylor Road Elementary (Reynoldsburg), The Arts & College Preparatory Academy, Yorktown Middle.
A collaborative research project between Ohio State Dance Professor Dr. Harmony Bench and Dr. Kate Elswit (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama) focused on choreographer Katherine Dunham paved the way for the Institute for Dunham Technique Certification (IDTC) to bring their summer Dunham Technique Conference to Ohio State in Summer 2023. The first week of the conference, July 16 – 22, was the Dunham Teacher Certification Workshop for dance teachers in the process of becoming certified to teach Dunham Technique. The second week, July 24-28, was a dance intensive open to Ohio State dancers and the broader Columbus community, in addition to Dunham Technique enthusiasts from around the world. We are very excited that current Ohio State Dance students were able to participate at low or no cost. This week included dance classes in Dunham, Dunham based Haitian, West African, Jazz, Modern and more. All classes were taught by certified Dunham teachers, but classes did not require previous Dunham training. To learn more about the work IDTC does to preserve the embodied legacy of Katherine Dunham’s technique, visit their website: https://www.dunhamcertification.org/ or follow them on social media @InstituteforDunhamTechniqueCertification. To learn more about the award-winning work that Drs. Bench and Elswit have done using digital humanities approaches to analyze Katherine Dunham’s repertory, company membership and touring, go to www.dunhamsdata.org.