Between 2008 and 2014 the department participated in three large shifts simultaneously, unprecedented in the history of the program. These three shifts affected every aspect of our administrative, curricular, and physical architecture. Between 2008 and 2009, The College of Arts and Sciences underwent a massive re-organization, a change that affected every aspect of our administrative architecture. Beginning in 2009, building renovation plans began to define every inch of our future architecture. In 2010, the conversion from quarters to semesters commenced, requiring us to design a whole new curricular and scheduling architecture. In 2011, we moved out of Sullivant Hall, and into several other buildings, appropriately called "swing space," affecting the architecture of communication, teaching and community building. In 2012, we began life on a semester schedule, changing the architecture of our days, weeks and months. In winter 2013, the department moved back into Sullivant Hall, and adjusted to the new spaces, faces and flows.
Faculty and students comment on these architectural shifts…
Pursuing my MFA...
Pursuing my MFA during The Great Upheaval presented many challenges that only make me appreciate the facilities that we have access to within the newly renovated Sullivant Hall. The old adage is that space makes place. During the renovation, and in the midst of the university-wide semester conversion, the faculty and graduate students bunkered down in what we affectionately called The Gulag while we all did our best to appreciate the outdoor walks that took us between the offices and studios. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night kept us from dancing and making dances, and as someone who has lived and danced in New York City I'll tell you that hoofing after a day of schlepping really builds character. Transitioning from quarters to semesters in the middle of the program was less of an issue for graduate students than undergraduates but nevertheless added to a period of creative instability. Graduate school, for me at least, was a time for defining and articulating my artistic voice, professional goals, and pedagogical approaches. While I found humor in sometimes feeling like the middle child forgotten at the grocery store, I by and large appreciated how much latitude I had to improvise as I was figuring things out. Restructuring an entire curricula is no small feat, and the faculty and staff performed admirably.
Back in Sullivant Hall
by Elijah Palnik
Creativity often results in its purest form when we sift through limitation to discover opportunity. While awaiting the unveiling of our beautiful new home in Sullivant Hall, The Ohio State University Department of Dance was required to trust such creativity, as the renovation left us nomads to transform the nooks, forgotten corners and overlooked spaces of Ohio State's campus into studios and performance venues. Dancers trekked .7 miles from Pomerene Hall to Drake Performance and Event Center, at times more than five times a day back and forth, simply to attend a schedule overwhelmed with classes and rehearsals. In the absence of a stage, the department honed imaginative hearts and resourceful minds, hosting its first site-specific spring concerts. Showcasing student-choreographed pieces covering the broad landscape of campus, dancers welcomed racket ball courts and installation art as additional performers, seizing inspiration from established architecture and inhabited space to embody a new perspective in performance. In May 2012, the Department transformed the Plumb Hall Agricultural Arena on Ohio State's west campus into a paradoxical world of transcendence and actuality. Featuring work by Bebe Miller (Our Town) and Esther Baker-Tarpaga (Oh Darling, the dust never settles), dirt and dust replaced marley floors as performers enlivened the earth below them of the massive horse arena to premiere an unrefined aesthetic that the department had yet to encounter. A juxtaposition of otherworldly essence and humanistic physicality, the audience was reminded not only of their nuanced roots, but the department's resiliency to confront hindrance with innovation and dexterity.
Yet, in autumn 2013/early 2014, we embraced our deep visceral memories of a cherished Sullivant Hall with the introduction to elite physical spaces and renewed energy. With a stained glass rotunda to symbolize our communal spirit, grand entrance to greet a welcoming affinity to inquiry and passion, and wall-length studio windows that illuminate the immense aspiration and talent of the people within them, we have truly found a home in our exquisite new building.
by Mitchell Rose and Michael Wall
Three Unforgettable Years...
For three years, while we were operating out of six different "swing spaces" during the Sullivant renovation, we were also converting from the quarter system to semesters, along with all public and private institutions of higher education in the state of Ohio. Phrases like "311.06 will now be 3102" echoed in our meetings as we re-numbered and re-designed close to 200 dance courses, all with new syllabi in new formats.
I remember Helen Alkire telling us in a faculty meeting 10 years ago that every time she and her faculty put a program change in place, they started to question it and make adjustments. True to this legacy, we took semester conversion as an opportunity to scrutinize our BFA, MFA, PhD and dance minor degree program requirements and make improvements. These changes necessitated a new daily/weekly schedule, new advising structures, and countless conversations with the degree audit folks to make sure the new courses showed up correctly on our students' transcripts (and the answer is, we are still getting there).
Across the university there have been three years of students whose experiences, courses and records straddle the two systems, thus requiring plans for those transition groups, abundant patience and good humor. Our appreciation goes out to our fabulous students who continued to make great work, dance with passion and roll with the punches, skills which will serve them as they move into their professional lives.
Sullivant Hall Renovation
A blog by Melissa Bontempo, editor