‘IMPULSE’ to take stage at Freed Center

ADA — Dancers from Ohio Northern University will take the stage for their first big concert since early 2020, just before the pandemic began.

“IMPULSE: A Spring Dance Concert” will take place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at ONU’s Freed Center for the Performing Arts, and choreographer and ONU director of dance Elizabeth Cozad-Howard said that the quality and variety of the dancing will be well worth the wait.

“What is most exciting to me this year in this concert is the mixed amount of style of dance that we’re going to see on stage,” she said. “The concert starts with a traditional classical ballet with eight young ladies dancing on point. We brought in a guest artist to set that piece and then it takes you through a little bit of each choreographer’s own idea of what ‘impulse’ means to them and dance.”

As one of the 10 choreographers whose work will be showcased in the concert, Cozad-Howard said that her piece, titled “What’s Left Unsaid,” is based on personal research and is about the physical response to a conversation that she is not willing to have. It will use gestures and movements to tell a story that could not be told just by speaking.

“So I chose my own cast by their abilities to not only use and develop my own choreography but who I knew could bring themselves into my project and collaborate with me,” she said. “That’s a really important task here on this campus to be collaborators with our students, and that was exciting inside of my own journey.”

This should fit into the rest of the performances perfectly, given Cozad-Howard’s description of the theme.

“What is action?” she said. “What is feeling? Is it motivated by a story? Is it produced because of the music? The performers were really tasked with doing a little bit of creative research around energy and intention through their chosen genre. I think the audience can appreciate this concert because it’s not a full 50 minutes of all ballet. It’s not all contemporary and we’ll take them on a little bit of a journey through some jazz dance and some house dance, also.”

Cozad-Howard said that the mixed-genre concert, which will include tap, classical ballet and modern contemporary styles as well, should allow any audience member to find something that they can appreciate whether or not they know much about dance.

She added that, in addition to the 10 main choreographers, student choreographers were also selected to help cast the show, costume it and light it.

“There was a lot of work and each dance rehearses around 24 hours, which essentially is actually kind of a short amount of rehearsal to prepare for a concert of this caliber, but we pack it in and we do it well every year,” she said.

Cozad-Howard thinks it will all be worth it when the audience walks away from the performances.

“I love it when audience members come up afterward and say they didn’t realize that they could be so moved by the dancing,” she said, “or they ask me what the piece was about and say what they thought it was about and how they perceived it. I also always love when we get dancers from the local area into the seats. they bring their brown perception of what they know about dance. So I also hope that we are offering a challenged perspective or new lens into what dance on a large stage can be.”

For the students, both the performances and the day of dance, in which local high schoolers will get to take a warmup class with them, it should be a rewarding experience as well.

“Our students are excited to have an audience and to have an audience not only see them working on faculty pieces, but for the students presenting their own work,” said Cozad-Howard. “I love that our campus can support that and them. I think our program is a gem in this area.”

Beyond these performances, student choreographers and faculty members can choose to have their piece adjudicated professionally through the Ohio Dance or the American College Dance Association.

“So we do use this platform to give us content to be able to choose to present it in the fall or spring of next year,” said Cozad-Howard. “We are always thinking ahead of how we can take our student dance company out to perform and also connect with the local community.”

Tickets for the performances are on sale at the Freed Center website, by calling 419-772-1900 or by going to the Freed Center Box Office on weekdays, from noon to 5 p.m.


WHAT: “IMPULSE: A Spring Dance Concert”

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: ONU Freed Center for the Performing Arts, 500 W. College Ave., Ada

Tickets are $20 and are available at onu.edu/freed.

Reach Jacob Espinosa at 567-242-0399.