Advice for incoming Dance Division freshman

Sophomore Dance Majors pose with  modern professor, Chengxin Wei

Sophomore Dance Majors pose with modern professor, Chengxin Wei

Entering a college classroom for the first time is intimidating, especially when that classroom is a dance studio. Each freshman dancer is coming from a different background and has no idea what to expect when they walk through Putnam’s doors for the first time. But don’t fear Class of 2018, the current and former Dance Division students have shared some of their advice below.


“Always keep an open mind” – Sydney Sanders, Sophomore BFA

“College, the faculty, and other dancers can easily overwhelm you and seem intimidating. Take a breath and have no fear. This is a place for all of us to come together, do what we love and grow together. Step out of your comfort zone and have fun” – Corrine Bailey, Sophomore BFA

“Appreciate your Division of Dance family because they will make Putnam your home away from home, but also make sure you have people you can go to when you need space away from the Putnam hullaballoo. Also, in college it’s cool to get involved and be active and participate. Be the youest you” – Kelly Schlabach, Senior Dance Minor

“If a Bachelor’s of Arts (BA) degree is more flexible for you and more of the direction you want to go rather than a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts (BFA) degree, there’s nothing wrong with that! There are so many opportunities in dance; Physical therapy, Yoga, Pilates, health, production, media, videography, arts administration, dance educate, etc. And most importantly, when things get stressful, remember that dance is your passion and it’s supposed to be fun!”- Jasmine Shafley, Senior BA

“Focus on yourself in class, and how you can improve your abilities. It’s not a competition in college, it’s about yourself.”- Becky Sebo, Senior BFA

“Let go and be willing to step outside your comfort zone to explore and create new things. Be willing to be there to give encouragement and support to others when they need it. There are going to be times when you need some positive vibes to keep you going. Lastly, never lose sight of the reasons you love dancing.” – Grace Nicklos, Junior BFA

“First year composition class is sometimes stressful because it might be new to you but stay positive about it and be serious because it WILL help you in the long run.” – Kristyn Lein, Sophomore BFA

“Realize that you have something to offer. Too tall? Not for someone. Too stumpy? Not for someone. Too uncoordinated? Not for someone.” – Leah Crosby, Senior BFA

“You’re you and that’s awesome. But try someone else’s awesome. Give that a go. Master someone else’s  work. That’s versatility. If you never try, you’ll never know. If you never experience, you’ll never grow.” – Kaitlin Flynn, Senior BFA


“Don’t be afraid to film yourself! This will help with your Senior Seminar (BFA) class a lot!” – Alexandra Plantinga, Alumna (Class of 2014)


“No dance form/style is better than another. Dance is extraordinary because it is always changing, people are always creating, value what you create and stand behind it, take criticism…its what makes you grow, be a sponge..soak up all the knowledge you can! Work your ass off and love every minute of it because its over before you know it!” – Lauren Daidone, Alumna (Class of 2014)


As for my tip: Let your passion for dance guide you in all aspects of your life, not just in the studio. If you like another subject (say journalism for example…), see how you can bring the two together. Be creative and forge your own path!

Keep these tips in mind and we will see you in Putnam!

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In Defense of the Dance Major


Wonderful piece about the value of being a dance major!

Originally posted on shannondoolingdances:

after the rain

After the Rain – the first piece I choreographed at DeSales University, in 2005

Several months ago, I heard two interesting reports from NPR’s Planet Money team that focused on college majors and jobs – why people decide to pursue particular tracks of studies and the careers they hold as a result  As might be expected from a program entitled “Planet Money,” both of the these reports focused heavily on the economics of such decisions. Specifically, “What’s Your Major” took a look at the relationship between college majors and salaries, and the title of “Why Women Like Me Choose Lower Paying Jobs” pretty much says it all.

One topic that came up often as the various economic experts tried to justify why someone wouldn’t choose a more lucrative college major and career was “passion.” On some level, I think that is absolutely true. Some of us do make such…

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New Movement Organization website released

Check out The Movement Organization’s new website at  to learn more about the organization, its executive board and upcoming events for the 2014-2015 school year!

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AWAKE(N) brings together a community of artists

“Hello, my name is Kelly Schlabach. I have a big laugh. I have blue eyes. I have clinical depression but I am an optimist,” says junior Social Work major Kelly Schlabach as she stands in front of a full room telling the story of how she almost committed suicide.

Schlabach and other performing artists including dancers, singers, musicians, artists and poets at OU came together during AWAKE(N), an immersive arts experience, to use their art as an outlet to celebrate life and bring the message of hope and the idea of overcoming struggles to anyone who is going through a difficult time in their life.

AWAKE(N) included over 20 performances by students and local artists. The event took place at Central Venue in Athens on April 10 and was hosted by Post-IT! and The Movement Organization.

The Movement Organization is a student organization at OU for any students who are interested in any aspect of dance whether it be performing, watching or choreographing.

The Movement Organization helped plan the event and Movement members Alli Bradley, Curtis Johnson, Grace Nicklos and Kaitlin Flynn also performed dance or movement pieces at AWAKE(N).

“Post-IT! is a new organization that aims to raise suicide awareness and mental illness awareness and prevention through any medium of arts that we can access,” said Bethany Logan, junior Dance major and President of Post-IT!. Members of Post-IT! write messages on post-it notes and place them in different locations around campus.  

During AWAKE(N), audience members were able to place post-its with words of encouragement around the venue.

Logan and other members of Post-IT! reached out to students interested in sharing their stories or performing at the event. They also reached out to local businesses including Brenens, Donkey Coffee, Insomnia Cookies, Wings Over Athens and Habibi’s to donate food and coffee for AWAKE(N). 

“I decided to get involved because I think sharing stories is a really important part of the human experience, and surprisingly enough, you don’t often get the opportunity to get together just to share experiences,” Schlabach said.

Among the performers were Dylan Sams and Mitchell Toler who performed a cover of the song by The Mountain Goats “This Year.”

“Mitch selected it especially for one line that’s repeated throughout the song: ‘I’m going to make it through this year if it kills me’,” Sams said. “It’s about perseverance and sticking through adversity. The intention is to express the message that if there is a person going through an extremely rough time they always have the potential to  push through.”

Logan said that Post-IT! is all about creating a community and coming together to provide support to those in need.

“I love that the whole community present at AWAKE(N) was so supportive. I felt incredibly safe sharing my story at AWAKE(N) and received a lot of support and positive responses,” Schlabach said.

Check out the video below for more information and photos from AWAKE(N) and see the audio clip below to hear Schlabach’s full spoken word piece about her triumphs and trials of chronic depression, “Depression with an Optimist.”

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OU Technical Director keeps productions running smoothly

John Bohuslawsky, technical director for all Division of Dance productions, works hard to make sure that all productions run smoothly. Below is a video I created in 2013 highlighting Bohuslawsky’s work.


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Injuries take their toll on dancers

Dancers have one of the highest injury rates among athletes and performing artists. Below is a story that I wrote last year about a dance major, now an alumni of the Division of Dance, facing an injury and how she overcame her struggles. Also featured below is an article published by The Post about current junior dance major Becky Sebo.

Kelsey Maiolo’s Story

Kelsey Maiolo, senior dance major at Ohio University, was about to go on stage for what would be one of the final dance performances of her career at OU. With only about an hour left before the show, the dancers had one final dress rehearsal. During her piece, “The Missing Peace” Maiolo came down on the floor wrong, dislocating her patella.

Luckily, dance medicine specialist, Jeff Russell was at the scene to treat Maiolo’s injury on the spot. Russell, assistant professor of athletic training, came to OU this year with the goal of creating a performing arts medicine program to help provide healthcare for performing artists and teach students how to prevent injuries.

“Many healthcare workers and athletic trainers do not know how to treat performers and dancers,” Russell said. “We need to increase the number of healthcare workers who have direct contact with dancers and know how to treat them.”

Dancers have a very high injury rate. For pre-professional and professional dancers the injury rate ranges from 67 to 95 percent, according to a 2008 study in the Journal of Dance Medicine & Science. Dancers need to be given the correct care so that they can continue their careers.

Dance Medicine is a branch in the field of performing arts medicine that deals with the medical treatment of dancers and injuries specific to dancers. Dance medicine is often confused with dance therapy, which is a method of psychological treatment in which movement is used to express emotions or relieve stress.

In a study written in 2005 in the Dance Research Journal, author Jatin Ambegaonkar, researcher at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, said “Dance injuries are referred to as the ‘orphan child’ in the sports medicine family, with dancers representing a medically underserved occupational group.”

Communication between healthcare workers and injured dancers has become an increasing problem. Many dancers fail to seek any medical attention for their injuries and when they do they often encounter a medical professional with little knowledge of dance-related injuries, according to the article.

The study reported that 20 percent of medical practitioners who were surveyed had never observed dance and therefore had a difficult time treating dancers. For this reason, many dancers do not trust medical professionals to treat their injuries, fearful that they will tell them to stop dancing all together.

The importance for a medical professional to be partnering with the dancer and the dancers teacher or choreographer in order to monitor the dancer progress in class or during rehearsals was also discussed in the study. It is very rare for a dancer to have access to a medical professional in close proximity to them unless it is a dance specialist hired specifically to treat dancers in the specific school or company.

Researchers also reported that 24 percent of medical professionals thought that it was at least moderately important for dancers to understand basic human anatomy to understand their own injuries.

By educating medical professionals and dancers about injuries and how to prevent them, dancers will be able to feel more confortable going to medical professionals for help and less injuries will occur and dancers will be able to get the treatment that they need.

University programs focusing on dance science are becoming more popular all across the globe and especially in the United States.

The International Association of Dance Medicine and Science provides information for students about educational opportunities to pursue careers in dance medicine. Over 30 universities across the globe offer programs or courses in dance medicine, according to the IADMS database, including 17, in the U.S.

Universities such as California State University and Goucher College in Maryland, offer concentrations in dance science that give students the ability to take biology classes and work in a clinic to learn about the body and how to treat specific injuries.

Indiana University and Case Western University offer degrees and classes in kinesiology, the study of human movement, helping to better educate dancers about their own bodies.

Russell has worked to create similar programs in other universities including Belhaven University in Mississippi and the University of California, Irvine.

OU’s program is one of the first programs to focus on giving medical attention to not to only dancers, but to all performing artists.

The Division of Athletic Training in conjunction with the College of Fine Arts at OU is developing a program in performing arts medicine. This initiative comprises three facets: clinical, educational, and research.

“We are trying to be a pioneer in this area at Ohio University and provide support for our students in performing arts,” Russell said.

Russell is working to create a program in which dancers can take classes similar to an exercise physiology or physical therapy major, for those students who wish to pursue a career in performing arts medicine, sports medicine or physical therapy.

“Offering more classes in this field will build an interest in dance medicine and offer other career options for our students to pursue,” said Travis Gatling, interim dean of The School of Dance.

Classes in kinesiology are required for dance majors at OU but Russell hopes to offer more classes in performing arts medicine starting as soon as summer 2013.

Before Russell came to OU, the closest students could get to a degree in dance science was to major in Physical Therapy with a minor in dance, Gatling said.

Gatling is also excited for the hands-on experience that students will gain from working in the clinic that Russell has helped to create. The clinic, formerly the student lounge on the third floor of Putnam Hall, houses a sprung dance floor, mirror, barre, examination table and other equipment that Russell uses to treat performing artists.

“It is important that we have a specialized facility that is designed to take care of dancers and other performers because performing artists are very much athletes,” Russell said. “We take care of them in much the same way that we take care of athletes that play football, basketball, baseball or volleyball.”

Not only is support available to students through the clinic, but Russell and his team of students are also available during every performance that The School of Dance puts on. They set up a temporary clinic backstage where performers can go if they get injured during a performance.

“Dr. Russell was there when the injury occurred. I went straight to him and his team and they did an examination on the swollen area,” Maiolo said.

Miaolo is grateful that The School of Dance has someone like Russell to take care of the dancers. She said that he even told her that he would treat her as if she was his daughter and gave her everything she needed to have a successful recovery process.

“Dr. Russell understands the importance of our careers and wants to do everything he can to help us succeed. If he was not there to tell me I had a very serious injury, I know that I would have gone back to dancing and just brushed it off, until something worse happened and I was out of dance for the rest of my life,” Miaolo said.

Check out my post for more about the SHAPe Clinic at

Becky Sebo’s Story

Check out this story by The Post about current junior dance major, Becky Sebo, who is also currently dealing with an injury.

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Division of Dance takes the show on the road

The Ohio University Division of Dance class of 2014 has been preparing solos and group pieces to be performing at the Spring Senior Dance Concert since January. This year, the cast got the opportunity to perform their pieces in front of audiences in Ohio and Kentucky on tour.

The cast travelled to schools in Ashland and Louisville in Kentucky and Cleveland and Centerville in Ohio on four separate tour dates. Performances took place at Hathaway Brown, Centerville High School, and the Ashland Youth Ballet. Members of the senior class also participated in Question and Answer sessions after the shows and taught master classes for students at the schools after the performances.

Tours give students more opportunities to perform, help recruit incoming students for the Division of Dance and give the cast members a taste of what it is like to be a professional touring dance company.

The Senior Dance Concert will be April 11 at 7 and 9 p.m. and April 12 at 2 and 4 p.m. General admission tickets are $8 and tickets are free to students with a valid student ID. For more information on the Concert visit

For more social media posts check out Senior Concert Tour Social Media and check out the photo gallery below for a backstage look at the cast members on the Cleveland and Ashland tours.



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