Photo Credit: Jordyn Humphrey 2013
After beating out 36 other submitted entries, Ohio University junior dance student Leah Crosby, was recognized for her choreography by the annual American College Dance Festival Association East-Central Conference (ACDFA) earlier in March.
ACDFA serves as an opportunity for university dance programs, faculty, and students to gather and engage in professional workshops, and also to perform competitively and receive feedback from professional artists. This year, Ohio University’s Dance Division hosted the conference over Ohio University's spring break (March 2-5), inviting 27 universities, each of which were permitted to submit two dance pieces—faculty work, graduate student work or undergraduate work—to be adjudicated and selected for the Gala Concert held in the Blackburn-Templeton Memorial Auditorium on March 5, 2014.
“ACDFA is an amazing opportunity, particularly for undergraduate choreographers because it gives us the pretty unique ability to have our work judged on an equal level with professional and faculty work,” said Crosby. “It is a chance to be seen by the larger dance community and to see what the rest of the community is exploring and creating.”
Among the 11 selected for the Gala Concert was Leah Crosby’s “A Sunday Stroll with Fido and Lila,” one of the two dance pieces submitted by the OU Dance Division, including “SUSPECT” by guest artist, Christine Cali.
“I'm still riding a bit of an ego high,” said Crosby. “The work was very well received by the judges, which is a great testament to the composition program here at OU. For any student or professional in an artistic career, signs of success and encouragement hit us deeply. We put so much time, thought, love, and sweat into our work and success is rare and hard to come by. The prospect of making a career out of this is a daunting one, so recognition is important and pretty emotional.”
For the duet piece, Crosby created a sound score of her own, which included multiple, dog obedience commands such as “sit,” “shake,” “lie down,” and “treat?” to be interpreted and performed by Crosby and her partner.
“The piece was about authority, dominance, submission, and the relationship between two beings that were not-quite-human, not-quite-animal,” said Crosby. “It also, quite frankly has a lot to say about gender. Ultimately it was a very funny piece--the audience laughed a lot and the judges were particularly impressed with the smart and quiet humor of the duet.”
The experience and accomplishment has served to encourage Crosby in her skill as a choreographer and the ability to present competitive work for criticism.
“This was truly the most terrifying thing I've ever done in my life,” said Crosby. “The piece is very personal: I choreographed it, I danced in it, I made the sound for it...it was hard to get any kind of separation from it, but the adjudicator feedback and also the informal feedback given to me by audience members from other schools has re-affirmed for me that I am making work that is interesting and provocative. It means so much that audiences remembered and responded to my work and were motivated to seek me out, introduce themselves, and talk about it with me. This kind of interested, voluntary feedback is particularly meaningful--it means it stuck in their brains. As an artist, I don't want to just put movements and sound on stage, I want to make things that encourage audiences to think and to feel something.”
For more information about Dance Division events, please visit www.ohio.edu/finearts/dance/.