Q&A: Recent graduate and aspiring dancer, Jeremy Griffin-Jackson, talks OWU and future plans

By Alanna Henderson, Managing Editor

Q: Tell me a little about yourself and what your years were like at Ohio Wesleyan.

A: I’m originally from the Detroit, Michigan, a recent OWU graduate as of December, and I spent my three and a half years at OWU devoting myself to my art, which is dance. I participated in the New York Arts Program and each year I participated in Orchesis, OWU’s dance company. While in New York, I worked for a company named Gibney Dance as a center intern. I handled every day operations and maintenance tasks.

Q: What’s your background with dance? How long have you been dancing and where?

A: I originally started as a self-taught hip-hop dancer and received my first formal training in postmodern dance when I arrived at OWU. My favorite dance class at OWU was Choreography and Composition I. I’ve been dancing for as long as I could walk.

Q: Who inspired you to start dancing?

A: Watching my older cousin dance growing up inspired me to explore the art form more. Then, watching music vid-
eos of Usher, Michael Jackson and Chris Brown furthered my love for the art.

Q: What is your favorite type of dance and why?

A: I enjoy Krumping because it allows me to free myself completely and extinguish any negative feelings I have at the time.

Q: What was the process of getting your own dance class offered at OWU?

A: The human, health and kinets department wanted to involve more alumni in teaching activity courses on campus, so I was approached by Wendi Kay who thought I was qualified for the position due to all of my performances and exposure on campus.

Q: Have you taught any dance classes before? What do you hope you to take away after teaching a course?

A: I have taught small lessons and composed choreography for the school’s dance company but this is my first stand-alone class. I hope to learn the most effective way to teach people movement while also spreading my love of dance to other people.

Q: What should the dancers expect to get out of this class? Do you have any goals?

A: Students who take my class should expect to have fun, learn some new dance skills and learn about working out in a healthy manner. My goal is to help people figure out alternative ways to be active and fit while teaching something I love.

Q: If you could dance with anyone, who would it be? What song?

A: If I could dance with anyone it would be Usher and we would dance to “El Chapo” by The Game ft. Skrillex. I would want to dance with Usher because our styles are similar and because I would to join his backup dancers and tour with him some day.

Senior project will redefine boundaries

Olivia Lease, Online Editor

Senior Yasmin Radzi didn’t always like dancing.

Photos by Olivia Lease.
Photos by Olivia Lease.

Her mother, Fauziah Embi, was open about this. “The funny story is, I tried to start her earlier [in dancing] when she was five, but she hated her teachers.” A few years later she had Radzi try dancing again and, “she loved it, hasn’t stopped since.”

The Houston-raised dancer is currently president of the student-run dance organization Terpsicorps and majoring in both neuroscience and theatre and dance.

Radzi has trained in ballet, tap and jazz. She was also a part of a competition jazz team and a contemporary company before coming to OWU.

“Ohio Wesleyan was a place that encouraged me to continue my passion of dancing, but also to pursue neuroscience,” she said.

At OWU, she said she’s learned a lot, especially about composition and choreography as an art.

IMG_2288Rashana Smith, assistant professor of theatre and dance said, “Her first piece I saw in Orchesis had to do with light, I really liked that piece a lot just because she worked so hard on it and in many ways, although it had to do with light, it also had to do with architecture.”

Radzi said there’s been an underlying theme for her work these past four years. She likes to focus on the idea of architecture and the idea of dealing with boundaries, how one can push them as well as embrace them.

“For my senior project, I wanted to push my limits. All of my previous work had to deal with revealing and hiding within boundaries.”

Radzi is pushing the limits by filming, editing, directing and choreographing her own senior project.

She’s looking at dance for camera work, specifically film. Smith said this style became popular around the 1940s, but has not been explored extensively at OWU.

Radzi said that for the most part, she had always seen dancing performed a frontal view where the audience is seated, but for her senior project she wanted to do something different. “I wanted to be able to use a medium that would allow me to view movement from many angles.”IMG_2334

The setting for her film will be a storage closet on campus.

“She’s really determined, she cares a lot about finding her creative process. She’s dedicated to the field of dance,” said Smith.

When asked if she gets nervous on stage, Radzi replied, “I love performing, [it] is one of the most rewarding things I think that I will ever feel.”

Her mother said each show Radzi performed in growing up was unique and that she loved them all. Even though she hasn’t been able to see her daughter perform at OWU, Radzi makes sure to send her DVDs of all her performances.

The only thing Radzi wishes OWU offered would be more dance classes, specifically technique-based ones so dancers can keep up on their training. She has already taken every dance class offered.

Radzi will present her senior project at the Spring Dance Showcase on April 24 at 2 p.m.

After graduation, she plans to apply for research positions,  eventually go to podiatry school and join a local dance studio in Columbus.

Orchesis dancers, choreographers and designers explore what it means ‘to be human’