Orchesis is Coming to Your Local Theater

By Jessica Slauson

Transcript Correspondent

Thirteen dancers, a faculty choreographer, a guest choreographer and five crews are preparing for next month’s performance of Orchesis.

The Orchesis concert will be performed in the Chappelear Drama Center on Nov. 15 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 16 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

The performances are estimated to run 90 minutes.

“Orchesis is the annual faculty-directed dance concert that incorporates dance works made by students, faculty and professional choreographers,” said faculty choreographer Rashana Smith.

The choreographers in this performance include, guest Megan Bushway, Smith and student choreographers: Taylor Frasure ‘21, Miah Gruber ‘20, Maggie Welsh ‘21, Tess Meddings ‘22, Anne Raspe ‘22 and Ellie Bearss ‘22. Each choreographer has her own piece.

The themes of the pieces include: a musical score, going from day to night, school shootings, watered grass, physical contact without touching, stepping into unknown territory and uniformity and individuality, according to an OWU press release.

Some of the audience can expect to see at the performance are: Alex Dolph ‘23, Anne Raspe ‘22, Colleen Cornwell ‘22, Eleyna Stephani ‘21, Ellie Bearss ‘22, Jasmine Lew ‘22, Kayla Rush ‘23, Lizzy Nebel ‘23, Maggie Welsh ‘21, Miah Gruber ‘20, Miko Harper ‘21, Taylor Frasure ‘21 and Tess Meddings ‘22.

“Dancers and choreographers meet as a company each Monday 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. to have technique class and rehearsal together and to go over the administrative work of the company,” Smith said. “There are two hour rehearsals for each piece throughout the week. The only day that rehearsals are not happening are on Saturdays.”

In addition to the rehearsals, “we encourage people to go to the gym,” said dancer Eleyna Stephani. “We encourage people to just do workout cardio; to run; to do anything that keeps [their] body active because the more limber you will be and the better the dances will look.”

Some fears for this year’s performance include getting hurt and forgetting the routine. Stephani, who has bicep tendonitis in her right shoulder needs to be aware of what dance moves cause her pain.

“My fear is just making sure I know the choreography with all the other stuff I have going on, but once I get to performing, I’m not really scared, just excited,” said dancer Jasmine Lew.

Tickets for OWU students who have a valid student IDs are free. General admission tickets are $10. For senior citizens, OWU faculty and non-OWU students who have a valid student IDs, tickets will be $5.

Annual contemporary dance concert set to premiere

By Kienan O’Doherty, A&E Editor 

As one of the most anticipated events of the year, Ohio Wesleyan’s annual contemporary dance concert will look to wow with its most interactive piece yet.

“Orchesis 17/18” aims to be unlike any other production in OWU history. For one thing, it has a title, “The Time it Takes.”

“‘The Time it Takes’ relates to how much time it takes to actually go through this space together,” Rashana Smith, assistant professor of theatre and dance, said. “Can we hint at, get at, invite a sense of belonging at different levels? Not everyone is going to feel a belonging in the same way.”

One interesting aspect of the performance to look forward to is that it’s one extended piece, instead of the multiple pieces past concerts have been. Also, the performance starts right when you walk in the door, rather than waiting for the audience to be seated.

Smith also brought in renowned performer Erik Abbott-Main as a guest choreographer, who said he  hopes his experience in immersive dance theatre will help these performers make it the best concert they can.

“I hope to supply some other techniques that I’ve developed over the years working in this genre and share it on to them,” Abbott-Main said.

The performance will also have no pauses in the show, making it around 50 minutes instead of the usual hour and 15 that previous concerts used to run.

The cast number is lower this year compared to previous years because only 16 students were able to perform. There happened to be a large level of interest, but scheduling conflicts got in the way.

Junior Kelly Coffyn, who has been to the past two concerts, said she is very excited for this installment.

“I really am excited to go because I love seeing people who I didn’t know were passionate about dancing do something they enjoy,” Coffyn said. 

“The Time it Takes” will be performed on the Main Stage inside the Chappelear Drama Center.

Tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for senior citizens, Ohio Wesleyan employees, and non-OWU students. Admission is free for Ohio Wesleyan students with a valid OWU ID. Performance dates are Friday, Nov. 10 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 11 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

As one of the most anticipated events of the year, Ohio Wesleyan’s annual contemporary dance concert will look to wow with its most interactive piece yet.

“Orchesis 17/18” aims to be unlike any other production in OWU history. For one thing, it has a title, “The Time it Takes.”

“‘The Time it Takes’ relates to how much time it takes to actually go through this space together,” Rashana Smith, assistant professor of theatre and dance, said. “Can we hint at, get at, invite a sense of belonging at different levels? Not everyone is going to feel a belonging in the same way.”

One interesting aspect of the performance to look forward to is that it’s one extended piece, instead of the multiple pieces past concerts have been. Also, the performance starts right when you walk in the door, rather than waiting for the audience to be seated.

Smith also brought in renowned performer Erik Abbott-Main as a guest choreographer, who said he  hopes his experience in immersive dance theatre will help these performers make it the best concert they can.

“I hope to supply some other techniques that I’ve developed over the years working in this genre and share it on to them,” Abbott-Main said.

The performance will also have no pauses in the show, making it around 50 minutes instead of the usual hour and 15 that previous concerts used to run.

The cast number is lower this year compared to previous years because only 16 students were able to perform. There happened to be a large level of interest, but scheduling conflicts got in the way.

Junior Kelly Coffyn, who has been to the past two concerts, said she is very excited for this installment.

“I really am excited to go because I love seeing people who I didn’t know were passionate about dancing do something they enjoy,” Coffyn said. 

“The Time it Takes” will be performed on the Main Stage inside the Chappelear Drama Center.

Tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for senior citizens, Ohio Wesleyan employees, and non-OWU students. Admission is free for Ohio Wesleyan students with a valid OWU ID. Performance dates are Friday, Nov. 10 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 11 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Orchesis 2016 sweeps the stage

By Evan Walsh, Transcript Reporter

Orchesis, presented by Ohio Wesleyans department of theatre and dance, excited audiences with modern, interpretive dance choreographed and performed by students.

Three shows were presented from Nov. 11 to Nov. 13 at the Chappelear Drama Center.

The program featured eight separate acts, each of which addressed issues prevalent in todays society. Included in these acts were issues like bullying, mental stability, body image and race.

Junior Emily Rupp, who choreographed two acts, acknowledged the emotional element of this process. But she said she was also thankful that that same emotional element has challenged her in a more holistic way.

Its been important for my development,” Rupp, who participated in her third Orchesis performance, said. “Not just as a dancer but as a person because it gets me out of my comfort zone.

Rupp was not alone in her reflection. In her note, Artistic Director Rashana Smith wrote specifically about the themes present throughout.

We are a company of individuals trying to make sense of how we fit in this world,” Smith said. “We grapple with how we can make positive changes and how we can break destructive cycles. We wonder how we can support each other as we respect and honor our differences.”

In senior Jeremy Griffin-Jackson’s original work “Measuring Ones Soul,” Griffin-Jackson read a poem aloud about his African-American heritage while other dancers joined him on stage.

Audience members were impressed that their classmates were willing to tackle conflictual topics with such grace.

Senior John Littlehale said, Race in America is an issue thats gotten a lot of publicity lately and it should get a lot of attention. But Jeremy [Griffin-Jacksons] piece was special because the conversation being had was through dance I found it awesome.”

Smith added, True, his piece dealt with race, but it was very much from his perspective and his experience. I feel like that comes across from his words, but also in his choreography.

Planning for the performance began prior to last summer. Auditions were held shortly after the second week of school and students met three times a week with their companies to rehearse.

Junior Sam Van Dyke also attended Sundays matinee. He said he was very impressed with the quality of the performance and could tell a lot of preparation was involved.

Having never attended before, Van Dyke was unsure of what to expect.

It was very professional,” he said. “Clearly, there were a lot of talented performers but it was how they were able to work together in a team-like way that made it so engaging.”

Orchesis takes the stage at Chappelear

By: Gopika Nair, Assistant Copy Editor

Ares Harper, Hilary Quinn and Jeremy Griffin-Jackson practice for this year's Orchesis performance. Photo by Trent Williams.
Ares Harper, Hilary Quinn and Jeremy Griffin-Jackson practice for this year’s Orchesis performance. Photo by Trent Williams.

After nearly two months of rehearsals, the Ohio Wesleyan dancers can finally rest their feet.

Students of OWU from the department of theatre and dance have been working toward staging Orchesis, the annual contemporary dance concert, since the first week of classes, said Rashana Smith, the artistic director of Orchesis and a professor in the theatre and dance department.

The show debuted on Nov. 13 on the Main Stage in Chappelear Drama Center. Additional performances were held on Nov. 14 and Nov. 15.

Orchesis featured 24 dancers and comprised eight pieces created by students, faculty and a guest choreographer. The individual pieces explored a variety of themes.

The show opened with “Migrations,” a piece choreographed by Jill Becker, the guest choreographer. Becker created the dance in response to the crisis of migrants fleeing war zones and seeking refuge in the west, according to her program note.

“I am moved and amazed by stories of the risky journeys people are taking in the hopes of having better, safer lives for their families.”

Some other themes that Orchesis explored included depression and the socialization process and its implication on women, which were choreographed by juniors Maddie Presley­-Wolff and Diana Muzina respectively.

In addition to featuring original music, this year’s Orchesis is also the product of a collaboration between the theatre and dance department and the music department for the first time in years, said Smith.

The show concluded with Smith’s piece, titled “Effort of Interface,” which featured all 24 dancers.

Students practice for Orchesis. Photo by Rashana Smith.
Students practice for Orchesis. Photo by Rashana Smith.

Junior Trenton Williams, one of the dancers, said he hoped people understood the concepts of each piece.

“Nowadays, the rise in technology has made us more connected to our phones than to each other, and I really hope the people who attended Orchesis leave with a sense of awareness of this lack of connection,” Williams said of Smith’s piece.

Sophomore Alexia Minton, choreographer of the piece “Solitude of the Soul,” said part of the appeal of “Orchesis 15/16” was that it invited the audience to contemplate psychological, sociological and political issues.

“I think the greatest challenge I faced throughout the entire process of this show was trusting myself and having faith in my own choreography,” Minton said. “When creating anything, sometimes it can be hard to appreciate your own effort/artistry.”

Now that Orchesis has come to an end, Minton said she is thankful for the opportunity to work with and learn from her small cast of dancers.

Williams also said that though Orchesis was demanding, he would consider doing it again next year.

“At this point, I have six­pack abs and strong calves,” he said. “It was a long experience, but it was definitely worth trying something new.”

Sneak peak: Orchesis 2015

By: Gopika Nair, Assistant Copy Editor

Ares Harper, Hilary Quinn and Jeremy Griffin-Jackson practice for this year's Orchesis performance. Photo by Trent Williams.
Ares Harper, Hilary Quinn and Jeremy Griffin-Jackson practice for this year’s Orchesis performance. Photo by Trent Williams.

This year’s Orchesis is unlike past performances. For the first time in several years, Ohio Wesleyan’s theatre and dance department joined forces with the music department to devise the annual contemporary dance concert.

Orchesis features 24 dancers performing eight pieces created by students, faculty and a guest choreographer. The theatre and dance department at OWU will present “Orchesis 15/16” on Nov. 13, 14 and 15 in Chappelear Drama Center.

The choreographers of the show are primarily students who have taken a dance composition class, Rashana Smith, the artistic director of Orchesis and a professor in the theatre and dance department, said.

“It seems like the thread that’s going through all of our pieces is inter-connectivity,” Smith said.

The concert will conclude with the 24 dancers performing Smith’s piece, titled “Effort of Interface.”

The piece examines how much effort people put into being connected with one another, especially through technological devices and personal interactions. Smith’s inspiration stemmed from wanting to understand what the point of interface is.

Through dance, she explored the extent to which technology, besides making life easier, has improved the quality of life. The performance will feature original music by Jennifer Jolley, assistant music professor at OWU.

“[The collaboration with the music department] has been really nice because of how we all compose similarly, differently and trying to make all those things come together has been an interesting challenge,” Smith said.

All student pieces have varied musical elements. Junior Jeremy Griffin­-Jackson’s piece explores breaking the traditional lines of dance and features original music composed by his cousin.

“It’s much different than what people would hear at Orchesis,” Griffin­-Jackson said. “It’s piano- heavy, it’s violin­heavy and it kind of has a cyclical nature, so it sounds like it repeats itself, but it’s just a lot of the same instruments used in different ways throughout the piece.”

Griffin-­Jackson said that one of the most memorable moments from the rehearsal process was watching the dancers in his piece perform to the music for the first time. Their excitement gave him energy and they picked up the routine fast.

Griffin-Jackson’s piece was born out of his distaste for the more refined lines in dance such as the ballet line, which is the outline of a dancer’s complete body while performing steps or poses.

“To me that’s not pretty. That’s just mechanical,” he said. “So the idea [for this piece] just came from my own body and movement patterns.”

Each choreographer drew inspiration from something that resonated with them. Sophomore Alexia Minton’s piece, titled “Solitude of the Soul,” is an adaptation of a statue by the same name that she saw in the Chicago Institute of Art.

Minton’s piece explores the idea that no matter how closely people are connected, no one truly knows each other.

“When I went to Chicago and saw the statue, it was the one thing that really stood out to me,” Minton said. “When I got back to the university setting and had the opportunity, I thought it would be really beautiful to place movement into it.”

Some, like junior Diana Muzina, chose to express societal issues through dance.

The piece she choreographed deals with a specific thematic question involving society’s impact on women and the potential for messages to make them feel less human, she said.

“I’m really trying to comment on the socialization process, and allow the audience to place themselves in the piece.”

Over the last few years, Muzina encountered several physical and health problems that prompted her to modify her movements. One of the challenges she faced during the rehearsal process was choreographing for bodies that could do more than hers could, she said. Communicating certain movements to dancers that she could not demonstrate was also tough.

Rehearsals for the show have been underway since the second week of classes, Smith said.

Though the dancers have faced their share of challenges during the rehearsal process, they are excited to share their complex ideas with the audience.

“A lot of the work you will see will really make you think, and I believe it will have a huge impact on the audience,” Muzina said. “There is something for everyone to find a connection to in the overall performance.”

Tickets are free for OWU students with a valid student ID. Orchesis will be performed on the Main Stage in the drama center at 8 p.m. on Nov. 13 and Nov. 14 and at 2 p.m. on Nov. 15.

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