Students dancing in spring dance production
Thursday, April 1, 2021

Students from Ohlone’s Theatre and Dance (TD), Entertainment Design & Technology (EDT), and Broadcasting programs came together for a safe return to campus to produce this year’s spring dance performance which will premiere on April 15th and 16th. The 2021 Spring Dance Production includes seven dances, five of which were choreographed by the students themselves.

After a successful experience with students on campus recording the fall theatre production of Parrhesia, Director of Dance Janel Tomblin-Brown and Associate Professor of EDT Matthew O’Donnell wrote a proposal for the College’s Return to Campus (RTC) committee to consider allowing students back on campus to for the spring dance production. After carefully reviewing the plan, it was approved and the teams began implementation.

“I feel so grateful to my team and our college for the support needed to make our dance production happen in this very trying year. The most rewarding part of our production is the collaboration,” said Tomblin-Brown. “We're a bunch of artists, some seasoned, and some brand new, that worked seamlessly together across departments and programs to create an unprecedented dance production at Ohlone College.”

For five days straight, faculty, staff, and students came together to begin the process of lighting, performing, and shooting the dance production. While student choreographers and dancers began rehearsals via Zoom weeks in advance from home, they only had a couple of meetings on campus when they could dance together and rehearse in the chosen location space before their shoot date.

“It was a lot of fun. It was great to be able to catch up with my friends that I hadn't seen in a year or so. I also missed the feeling of working on a show live,” said Russell Peck, Ohlone College music major. “There is a certain energy when working on shows live that you just can't get virtually no matter what you do. Plus, I feel like we were able to create a better show during the shoot because we were in person. I also got to meet some new people which was awesome!”

In order to get the best production quality and lighting, the teams met on campus in the evenings. The lighting for the video was briefly discussed each day and then executed once the sun went down and it was dark enough so the camera could see the planned lighting effects.

"It was so great to be working with students on campus once again and following strict COVID safety protocols, the student performers and technicians were able to share a wonderful creative experience together,” said Matthew O’Donnell, EDT associate professor. “Hats off to Gary Kauf, director of broadcasting and his team who were willing to take this ride with us since day one. It was a successful, collaborative, and artistic experience that our students will not soon forget.”

O’Donnell worked with a small team of four of his EDT tech students each day to set up an intelligent lighting system at the location and each evening, as the sun went down, they would begin shooting the dance performances with the broadcasting team with the goal of shooting two pieces a night. The technical crews would shoot until after 10 p.m. each night, power down the equipment, break everything down, put it in its cases and roll it into an empty classroom in the Frank DiMino Learning Commons, Building 3. They repeated this process each evening at four different locations with a different tech team each day.

“The way theatrical lighting changes our space into our stage, the way the camera sees and shows us, the way the dancers and choreographers intently create a stage with their space and physical expression, regardless of the type of surface or weather, it's the culmination of great collaborative art, together.” says Tomblin-Brown. “Separately, we are beautiful art, but together, we are like the boom to a bomb and the joy of all that is good.”