Nearly 30 students from The Ohio State University – including jazz musicians, dancers, and rappers – will share their uniquely American art forms with audiences in cities and universities – and even an Embassy -- throughout China. The endeavor is funded by a U.S. State Department $50,000 grant and privately raised funds. The grant was awarded to the Center for American Culture collaboratively directed by Ohio State and Wuhan University (WHU) in Hubei Province, where students will perform, in addition to various other regions of China largely unfamiliar with the U.S. These include cities such as Nanning, Xinxiang, Shenyang, and Changchun.
The grant proposal was led by Chris Carey, director of the Global Gateways initiative, and Bob Eckhart, executive director of the combined ESL programs, Department of Teaching and Learning, and director of the WHU-OSU Center for American Culture. “This program gives our students a chance to have a global audience, and promotes awareness of the arts programs at Ohio State, which are a great strength of our university and are not well known in China,” Eckhart said.
Specifically, the tours will feature:
- Four contemporary dancers from the Department of Dance, who will perform a program of contemporary dance works that represent U.S. and western dance trends
- Twenty student musicians who comprise the OSU Jazz Ensemble
- Three members of the Ohio State Freestyle Rap and Beatbox Club
- One Department of Theatre alumnus and his solo show about Muhammad Ali.
They will be accompanied by Eckhart; Susan Petry, chair, Department of Dance, and director of the program tour; Ted McDaniel, professor, music, and director of the Jazz Ensemble; and Ashley Behrendt, business manager for the Global Gateways, assistant director of the WHU-OSU Center for American Culture.
"Members of the OSU Jazz Ensemble are looking forward to sharing a range of American jazz styles, including ragtime and traditional, swing, bebop, funk, and contemporary, with our Chinese friends and associates as we learn more about each other's cultures and strengthen the bond between us," said McDaniel.
Petry added that the dance program includes eight pieces exhibiting a range of choreographic styles in contemporary dance. "The dancers have prepared an incredible artistic program and we look forward to performing, teaching, and learning while in China," she said.
The groups will perform in separate appearances throughout China, with several opportunities to perform together. Some of their destinations include the Great Wall, Beijing, Xinxiang, Changchun and Northeast Normal University; Wuhan University, and Shanghai University. The beatbox club is expected to perform at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.
The trip itself is bound to be transformative. "This short study abroad experience, first of all, is an opportunity to represent this university," McDaniel said. "In effect, though, it is designed to create a stronger bond between the U.S. and China. The grant was focused on presenting American culture and arts to Chinese audiences, and what more American way is there to do that than with American jazz, American dance, and rapping?"
Ohio State's East Asian Studies Center will contribute to the pre-departure orientation of Ohio State students and faculty.
In addition to State Department funding, the endeavor is being supported by the Ohio State Global Gateways, Office of International Affairs, School of Music, Department of Dance, Office of Student Life, Office of Outreach and Engagement, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the College of Arts and Sciences.
- Rooms – Daydreams excerpt, by Ana Sokolow, (1955); Trio; a work of early expressionism; taught from Labanotation.
- Chair/Pillow by Yvonne Rainer, (1969); quartet; an example of a radical shift in dance-making as choreographers began to experiment with a new kind of modernism, minimalism, and "anti-heroic."
- O Mortal (1992), by Van Pelt Petry, a solo based on yoga principles. A virtuosic tour de force, it is a vehicle for the students to be challenged and also to learn a kind of meditative performance mode.
- Just Add Water by Susan Hadley, professor. A fast and furious quartet that provides an exemplary example of choreographic alignment with a musical score by Russell Hartenberger.
- DOTS, A new quartet by Rodney Brown, assistant professor, whose choreography carries story, narrative, and even science lessons. This work expounds on HIV prevention education as he choreographs illustrative choreography about "blood."
- Then This, a new duet by visiting artist Abby Zbikowski, whose work is firmly rooted in African diasporic traditions and movement forces.
- Nothing III, created by Noa Zuk from Israel, an example of "Gaga" inspired work. Gaga is a technique developed by Ohad Naharin in Israel; Noa's work is an astonishing and touching portrait of human frailty and power.
- Glacier, by Sophie Clemmensen, a choreographer, lecturer, and alumna from Denmark; a perfect example of very contemporary modes of movement that are quicksilver fast, fragmented, multi-focused.
The endeavor is funded by a U.S. State Department $50,000 grant, along with support from the Ohio State Global Gateways, Office of International Affairs, School of Music, Department of Dance, Office of Student Life, Office of Outreach and Engagement, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the College of Arts and Sciences.
"DOTS" Choreography by Rodney A. Brown
Dancers, L to R: Tammy Carrasco, Kelly Hurburt, Leisa DeCarlo
Photograph by Stephanie Matthews.
Full media release.