I’ve been busy ya’ll! So sorry for the lack thereof of activity, but my life has been a whirlwind of activity. At the beginning of this semester in September, I had the opportunity to work with well-known site specific choreographer, Steven Koplowitz of California University, for the grand reopening gala of Sullivant Hall. The Department of Dance has always called Sullivant Hall home, but over the course of the last several years, they have been renovation the building and transforming it into a new and more wonderful place for us artists to live and create. (I say “live” because I think I spend more time in Sullivant than I do at home not counting sleep hours.) When I came into the Department here at OSU, construction crews were finishing up the renovations, and we formally moved into the space at the start of the Spring 2014 semester. We now have incredible, beautiful, and large studios in which to take class and rehearse.
The Department brought in Steven Koplowitz to direct and choreograph a site-specific work throughout the whole entire building. Work began for this endeavor during the spring and continued into May, resuming a week before the Fall 2014 semester of classes started in August. The work was really a collaboration between Steve and the “core” group of dancers that had been working with him in the Spring and came to be called “Sullivant’s Travels.”
I came into the project in August. The rehearsal process was very interesting for me. I’d never been a part of a site specific work before, and I learned that it is not the same as concert dance, especially depending on the choreographer with whom one is working. Honestly, I remember being frustrated during a great deal of the rehearsal process because I felt as if Stephen didn’t truly care about us as dancers. It was strange for me to be in a situation where my “choreographer” didn’t know my choreography. I was in two sections of the project — Rotunda: Site and Sound, and the Finale. In retrospect and in discussion with my peers and professors, I have come to realize that it had not been about us dancers to begin with; Sullivant’s Travels was about the building. We were to highlight spaces throughout and hopefully give the public an opportunity to experience Sullivant Hall in a new way. We were not dancers in this sense; we were tools with which Stephen shaped the space.
This realization was off-putting to me. Despite that fact, I agreed to do another site specific work with one of the graduate students in the Department of Dance, Rachel Barker, called SightLines. I felt completely different about this piece. I thought that Rachel was much more in tune with and appreciative of her performers. Furthermore, I agreed to the piece mainly because I immensely enjoy Rachel as a person, which effected my attitude toward her. Yet, I was still frustrated because I felt as if I wasn’t ever actually dancing.
All in all, I don’t know if I will ever by drawn to direct/choreograph a site specific work myself. The interactions that I have had with those kind of endeavors has made such an impression on me that I know I will never hastily jump into a project without thinking it through. I am glad that I had these experiences for they are only furthering my exploration of myself and journey to fulfilling my artistic purpose and goals.
For photos and more info about Sullivant’s Travels,visit https://dance.osu.edu/events/sullivants-travels or http://thelantern.com/2014/09/one-off-performances-highlight-sullivant-halls-reopening-after-31-5-million-renovation/
Love and Light.