Sullivant Steps: a Site-Specific Work

In Composition 1 class, taught by Michael Kelly Bruce, I was tasked to create a site-specific work within the Sullivant Hall building on The Ohio State University’s campus. I chose to work with the granite steps leading up to the Cartoon Library. The coloring of the stone paired with the simple architecture made for a stunning space, and the stairs created an unconventional stage that gave the piece texture.

For this work I chose to create an improvisational score, a base structure of tasks and qualities that fuel and inspire a dancer’s movement. I asked three dancers to work within the structure I created. My structure was this:

One dancer would travel down the stairs, moving quickly and more specifically, inspired mostly by the architecture of the space.

Two dancers would travel up the stairs, moving smoothly and slowly in a more minimalistic manner.

The three dancers would eventually meet in the center and meld together, playing with the space in between each other as well as with the stairs themselves.

They would break apart, and one dancer would continue down the steps as the other two continued up.

They would reach the end of the staircase and walk away.

And because this was a site-specific work I gave my audience permission to watch the dance from any angle, below the stairs, at the top of the stairs, or even right in the middle of the dance. I allowed them free reign to do as they pleased as the dancers worked through their score.

It was fun to create and watch my improvisational score being performed by others, as most of the composition I have done in the past has been works of set choreography. This was a new experience for me, but something that I definitely want to work with in the future.

Because I was unable to film the original version of I have attached two videos of myself dancing the different parts. In one you see the role of the dancer going down the steps and in the other you see both dancers traveling up the steps, both partsĀ omitting the group melding section of the score. These are informal videos, done with a little bit of editing for an alternate perspective of the piece as a whole.