Susan Hadley: Commonplace
By Megan Davis (MFA 2015)
Commonplace became my first performance as a MFA student in the Department of Dance. The piece, which was originally choreographed by Susan Hadley in 1996, was revived for the 2012 production. As a dancer in the work, I immediately recognized the importance of choreographic structure and its intrinsic relationship to the music. Each of the six sections in Commonplace is delineated by selections from Veljo Tormis’ Forgotten Peoples. The composition conveys a felt presence of the past. Vaporous voices harmonize and dissipate, exuding the joys and sorrows of community.
While Commonplace demanded musical integrity and technical precision from each dancer, we were able to cross a performative threshold near the end of our process. The work, inspired by the resilient and nurturing bonds among female communities, was also informed by historical contexts. In the beginning of the rehearsal process, Hadley talked about Argentinian women in the 1970s and ‘80s who circled the Plaza de Mayo in quiet protest. The women’s ritualistic gathering was a response to devastating political violence and the arcane disappearances of their children. For Hadley, this profound image of circling women became an essential motif in her work.
As we prepared for the stage, Commonplace became less of a dance and more of a ritual. I saw and felt the presence of the women beside me. We circled the stage in a joyous folk dance and in mourning processions. In the final moments of the piece, we stood in a circle clasping each other’s hands, slowly raising our arms skyward. A gesture of hope and perseverance, Hadley transcends time, reminding us of our own Commonplace.
Melanie Bales: Radiant Paths
By Kerry Dibble (BFA 2014)
Radiant Paths, choreographed by Melanie Bales, was a unique mix of baroque, contemporary and ballet choreography that I had not encountered before. Since I am from a ballet-based background, the overall esthetic of poise and lightness felt like home to me, but the nuances of the baroque vocabulary took longer to adjust to - not to mention having to maintain those qualities while occasionally incorporating some floor work or sinking into a deep second grande plié. The most rewarding thing about performing in Radiant Paths for me was the collaboration between Melanie Bales and Catherine Turocy. Turocy is not only an Ohio State Dance alumna, but is also one of the directors of the New York Baroque Dance Company. Having Catherine come into our rehearsals at different points throughout the process was great – she would take the choreography that Melanie had created and add on her own layer of detail to highlight the baroque style. Performing the piece on the Mershon Stage at the Wexner Center for the Arts was an unforgettable experience. The shows were nearly sold out, the lighting (by Dave Covey) was exquisite, and the hanging chandelier made the atmosphere feel complete. I am honored that I was able to be a part of the cast of Radiant Paths, and I know that the knowledge I gained from both the rehearsals and the performances will continue to serve me throughout my dance career.
Rodney A. Brown: Gone's Goings
By Kimberly Isaacs (BFA 2015)
Being a part of Rodney A. Brown’s Dance Downtown 2013 work, Gone’s Goings, was a journey in all aspects of the experience. We were pushed as dancers and as artists to fully invest in the realization of the dance, from movement generation to embodied performance, and our involvement in this work made a lasting impact on each of our own artistic choices. Professor Brown provided us with expressive and sensational movement, as well as inspiration that we used as an impetus to create our own individual voices in the piece. A vital part of the work relied upon Brown’s emphasis on the formation of each dancer’s unique narrative working in cohesion with the group in order to make the experience authentic and fully embodied in the cast. In a sense, a new world was created between us on the dance floor, which the audience was then invited to experience with us.
Noa Zuk and Ohad Fishof: Nothing II
By Alice Bacani (BFA 2014)
Nothing II always seemed like a contradictory name for the work. Noa Zuk and Ohad Fishof, the creators of the piece, insisted that the piece was about nothing, but from the inside, it felt like something. I was lucky enough to be cast in the work my junior year, and it was my first introduction to the Gaga movement style. By being immersed in the Gaga technique and their rehearsal process, I learned so much in just 14 short weeks. But there is one lesson that stands out for me and I continue to use it every time I perform. It’s simple: the audience is not watching you; you as the performer are there to watch the audience. Something about this simple idea continues to give me much empowerment and confidence when I’m on stage. I carried this idea with me when Noa returned to set Nothing III on Leisa DeCarlo, Tammy Carrasco and myself as part of our repertoire for the China tour. Once I fell back in touch with this performance technique, I was excited to take it with me to China. Something we were told about China is that it’s a nation of “lookers,” people will just look at you without any motive of judgment, they are simply curious. I found that it was fun to stare back. Being able to perform in China with the idea of watching the audience made it feel like I was truly absorbing the whole experience. It didn’t feel like I just traveled 6,780 miles to show off what we Americans were doing, it felt like an actual cultural exchange as we watched each other while I was dancing. Being able to take this simple idea from Nothing II to Nothing III and finally to China was such a seamless way to connect some of my favorite experiences I have had during my time here at Ohio State.