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More Than Games


McKayle with studentsGames, the newest dance production to hit the stage at the Freed Center for the Performing Arts, is turning out to be more than child’s play for dancers at Ohio Northern University. From Sept. 21-25, Ohio Northern hosted a visit from Donald McKayle, which provided the unique opportunity for students to learn from a world-renowned choreographer and director.

Dancer Amanda Fannon, a junior communication arts major from Kenton, Ohio, was ecstatic about the privilege, saying, “You hear about people like Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey and Donald McKayle in dance classes growing up and learn about them in Dance History. Actually getting the opportunity to meet and work with someone of this caliber is amazing. We literally were working with a living legend.”

McKayle and his assistant, Stephanie Powell, worked one-on-one with dancers during their visit. This personalized approach allowed for each dancer to get as much out of the experience as possible, helping dancers improve their technique, balance, flexibility and confidence.

“The students are like sponges,” McKayle said. “They are very receptive, and they are eager.”

McKayle is the winner of numerous accolades, including a Tony Award for Best Musical for Raisin. He has been nominated for multiple Tony Awards in directing and choreography as well. His productions are performed all over the world, and he has choreographed more than 90 works for dance companies in the United States, Canada, Israel, Europe and South America.

“Being able to interact with someone so passionate about their work will stick with me,” Fannon said, “long after I’ve left Ohio Northern University.”

As dance theatre, Games is unique in its presentation in that there is no instrumental music. Songs from the rich heritage of oral transmission in both the rural and urban communities of the United States accompany the dance movement and are performed a cappella by the cast of singers and dancers.

The production follows the interactions of a group of children as they go about playing on city streets. Broken up into three parts, Play, Hunger and Terror, the audience is exposed to the relationships of the children and how they cope with the world around them.

Andrew Merecicky
Senior creative writing major from North Royalton, Ohio