Choreographer: Susan Rethorst
Maddie Leonard-Rose, BFA ’17
I remember first meeting Susan Rethorst in late September 2014, when she served as a guest artist at Ohio State during fall semester. She created a piece for Dance Downtown that November, and I was one of 12 women cast in the work.
Rethorst seemed to have an endless supply of quirky, task-like movement phrases that looked illogical from the outset but possessed a certain flow that steered them away from the categories of dull and mimetic.
One day she announced that the piece was to be called New Lucy. We asked her why and she said that it had just come to her and seemed fitting. The entire process adhered to Rethorst’s un-precious, whimsical ideas that proved endlessly fruitful and entertaining. I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked with Rethorst because now I can try to adopt her attitude of letting the art emerge through a series of unprecious decisions without halting the thoughtfulness at the heart of it all.
Congratulations to Susan Rethorst, recipient of the Doris Duke Impact Award 2015.
The Name of the Game
Choreographer: Ann Sofie Clemmensen
Charlotte Stickles, BFA ’17
Sofie took the movement that the cast created, and strung it together with her own choreography in a cohesive and unexpected way. She told us on the first day of rehearsal that she was interested in exploring childhood games and imagery, and a lot of our tasks revolved around this idea. To me, the sections of the piece represented the various emotional capacities and developments of a child.
In a process, Sofie knows exactly what she wants, and she knows how to extract it from her dancers. She recognizes potential and always expects the best from the dancers. She is very demanding but equally encouraging, intensely focused yet playful and whimsical. As a choreographer, Sofie creates incredible movement that challenges her dancers, and as one of her students, I am constantly inspired by her talent.
Pange Lingua (1986)
Choreographer: Michael Kelly Bruce
Asha Whitfield, BFA ’16
Going through the process of recreating Pange Lingua with Michael Kelly Bruce (MKB) for Dance Downtown was exciting because we got the opportunity to live in the past. The original piece was created in the 1980s for eight women, and even then it was reflective of an earlier time period. My fellow cast mates and I bonded over the fact that our cast was also all women. Although not intentional, the casting seemed to have a higher meaning and connection to who we are as people and how we fit in society as a whole.
MKB allowed the dancers to offer suggestions as to where the dance could go next or how a movement phrase could be adapted to fit our cast. By doing this, we were making Pange Lingua our own, a dance from the past that lived in us in the present. MKB encouraged us to find the internal sensation of existing in two worlds: of being pulled toward the future while the past trailed behind us. To live in two worlds at once is an experience I wish many could feel, and dancing Pange Lingua gave us that opportunity, and now the work will live on in each of us.
The Steadfast Tinder Soldier
Choreographer: Tine Salling
Ca’la Henderson, BFA ’15
Creating a new dance for Dance Downtown with visiting artist Tine Salling was an entertaining yet tough experience. The Steadfast Tinder Soldier was inspired by the Hans Christian Anderson tale, The Steadfast Tinder Soldier and the dating service, Tinder. In rehearsal, we read the fairytale aloud together, discussed the dating app, and created lists of mannerisms we thought we presented through the pictures we post on social media. As we dug deeper into movement exploration, tasks became more difficult as we attempted to move as a unit. Tine really trusted us as dancers to pull everything together and work out the kinks as a group. Toward the end of rehearsals, Tine edited all the movement material, focusing emotions and relationships between the dancers. This was the toughest part of the process — it was so close to show time and many changes were made. I learned the true meaning of endurance during those last few rehearsals.