Shauna Steele Is Named Associate Professor of Dance and Chair of Dance Department at CCM

CCM Dean Stanley E. Romanstein has announced the appointment of arts administrator, educator, performer and choreographer Shauna Steele to the college’s dance faculty. Steele’s appointment as Associate Professor of Dance and Chair of the Dance Department begins on Aug. 15, 2019.

An administrator and educator with nearly two decades of experience, Steele most recently taught at Michigan’s Hope College where she taught dance history and criticism, jazz, modern, improvisation, assisted the historic and social dance sections, and mentored Student Dance Showcase choreographers. From 2011-18 Steele served as the Dance Program Director and Associate Professor of Dance at Anderson University in Indiana.

“I am excited by ongoing education, both that which I teach and that which I learn from my students,” Steele says. “I find challenge and reward in teaching and am inspired by my students and the movement that grows from class sessions, both academic and technique.”

She is the founder and artistic director of Mocha Dance Project – which pursues projects engaging the fusion of photography, video, dance and collaboration – and was the Associate Director for RusticGroove Dance.

Arts administrator, educator, performer and choreographer Shauna Steele.

Arts administrator, educator, performer and choreographer Shauna Steele.

Her research interests include dance in world culture and context, Africanized movement in the Diaspora of Western culture (specifically Afro-Cuban and Afro-Caribbean), the influences of Celtic traditions on art and movement, the function of art in restricted or repressed environments, and body movement logic. She was the artistic director of Parallel Differences youth dance and the Associate Instructor for the Indiana University African American Arts Institute’s dance company. Her choreography has appeared in Robert Hay-Smith’s Pollen: The Musical, RADfest, The Tank NYC, Midwest RADfest, the Arizona Positivity Project and the Ypsilanti Fringe Festival. She has taught master classes in Roots of Jazz Dance and served as dance faculty at Grand Valley State University, Eastern Michigan University, Anderson University and the University of Michigan’s MPulse summer dance institute. She has lead master classes and workshops in improvisational movement, African dance, modern dance, jazz, Afro-jazz and hip hop. Her professional credits include Windfall Dancers, African American Dance Company, Dancers Studio Inc., Sancocho: Musica and Dance Collage and Ann Arbor Dance Works. She has performed in Robin Wilson’s Slave Moth, in Alexandra Beller’s Reasons for Moving and in Gay Delanghe’s Motor Tango/Tangle.

Her past projects include Millstones in August 2010 and The Positivity Project in Tempe, Arizona in October 2010. Her current choreography projects include Disobedient Objects/Caged Bird Legacy (a site-specific work), Sacred Ground (an evening length concert in three parts), /ˈākər/ (which delves into compulsive behavior and the need to sort, measure and catalogue), Leyenda in Winter (a dance for camera work), Still Frame (a video dance project) and Passengers (a contemporary modern work).

A published dance scholar, Steele’s co-authored textbook Experiencing Dance: A Creative Approach to Dance Appreciation (2011) examines the ever-changing culture of dance and provides a basic historical context and appreciation of dance as an art form. Her research articles include Exploring Choreographic Responsibility through the ‘Cultural Lens’ (2013); Drawing Parallel Lines: Dance, Architecture, and Society (2009); and Drawing Parallel Lines in Dance, Architecture, and Society: African American Modern Dance, and Jewish Deconstructivist Architecture (2006), among others.

Steele received her MFA in Dance Choreography and Performance with a focus area in History and Technology from the University of Michigan in 2006, and a BGS in Arts and Humanities with a focus area in Cultural Anthropology and Dance from Indiana University in 2002. She is a member of the American College Dance Association, World Dance Alliance and the National Dance Education Organization.

Dean Romanstein thanked search committee members Diane Lala (co-chair), Denton Yockey (co-chair), Rebecca Bromels, Qi Jiang and Regina Truhart for their work on finding CCM’s new Associate Professor of Dance and Chair of the Dance Department.

Please join us in welcoming Shauna Steele to the CCM family!

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Dean Mogle holds the white and black swan design sketches for CCM's production of Swan Lake.

From Sketch to Stage: The Making of CCM’s ‘Swan Lake’ Costumes

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There is a shortage of tutu makers in the world, said CCM Professor and Head of the Costume Design and Technology Program Dean Mogle, who faced the daunting task of designing costumes for Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake ballet.

CCM is working to fix that shortage by training the next generation of costume designers and technicians, whose work will debut on stage in the conservatory’s first ballet production to have costumes designed and built in-house.

A timeless tale of love, magic and mystery, Swan Lake will grace the Corbett Auditorium stage from April 22-24, marking the second time in CCM’s nearly 150-year history that a full-length story ballet has been included in the Mainstage Series.

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

Staff and students within the Costume Design and Technology program have worked on the ‘Swan Lake’ costumes for the past 18 months.

Presented by CCM’s Department of Dance, the ballet uses three different casts and the principal roles are all double cast ­— which is challenging for the costume shop students and staff responsible for ensuring the pieces fit each dancer correctly.

“You have to understand what dancers go through—what they need,” Mogle said. “Balance becomes really important.”

Costume designers and technicians must consider the weight of the fabrics and headpieces so the dancer can retain their natural balance. There is also limited “real estate” on the costume for artistic expression or characterization, Mogle said. If a female dancer needs to be lifted, safety dictates the fabric around her waist can’t be too slick and can’t get caught on anything.

“The ballet world is a totally different beast.”

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

Newly designed costumes for the Hungarian Czardas in Act III of ‘Swan Lake,’ made by costume students and staff. To the far right is Prince Siegfried’s jacket, made by Jessica Barksdale.

Mogle, with a team of students and faculty within the Costume Design and Technology program, has worked on the Swan Lake costumes for the past 18 months. They’ve borrowed and modified some costumes from a previous CCM performance of Brigadoon and the Broadway production of Cyrano, The Musical. Costumes for the principal and specialty roles in the ballet are newly designed and made.

Iconic white tutus, bodices, vibrant dresses and rich fabrics have taken over their workshop. The costumes are designed in the traditional style typically associated with the classic ballet. CCM plans to reuse and rent out some of them after the performance.

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

Jessica Barksdale is building Mogle’s design for Prince Siegfried’s costume, which will be worn in Acts III and IV.

Mogle, who previously designed costumes for the Cincinnati Ballet’s The Nutcracker, watched five or six different productions of Swan Lake to prepare for his costume designs. The pieces are still evolving on a daily basis, he said.

“Since we are making the production to last about 30 or 40 years, we don’t ever want to get too wild and crazy with the concept because it is pretty traditional,” Mogle said. “The things that really change in a traditional ballet like this are going to be the specialty characters.”

Those include the newly designed and made pieces that will be worn at the ball in Act III, where the Queen invites potential wives from Poland, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Naples and Poland to match with her son, Prince Siegfried.

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

A sketch and sleeve of Von Rothbart’s Act III costume, made by Erin Winslow.

At the ball, Prince Siegfried will wear a newly designed black and gold jacket made by Jessica Barksdale, first-year costume technology graduate student. Rothbart, the evil sorcerer who cursed the prince’s love Odette, will wear an intricately detailed costume made by senior costume technology student, Erin Winslow, as part of her capstone project.

Barskdale and Winslow are also making the iconic white and black swan costumes for leading female characters Odette and Odile. Associate Professor of Costume Technology Regina Truhart is managing all costume production for the ballet.

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

The in-progress white and black swan costumes for characters Odette and Odile are being made by Jessica Barksdale and Erin Winslow, respectively.

After 27 years at CCM, Mogle is familiar with the 30,000 costume pieces the conservatory has in stock. Luckily, the costume department was able to pull pieces from past performances of Brigadoon and Cyrano to modify them for courtier and peasant costumes in Swan Lake.

The costume department dyed some of the costumes in bright jewel tones and added details such as sashes, sleeves, aprons and hats. Net petticoats were used to make the costumes lighter and easier to dance in.

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

Costumes from the CCM production of ‘Brigadoon’ are being modified for the female peasants in Act I of ‘Swan Lake.’

“Every time we do [Swan Lake], we’ll add more to it and rely less on our costume stock,” Mogle said, adding that when the ballet is performed again in 6 years they will likely build new peasant costumes.

“That’s how some companies do it anyway. They’ll use tutus from many kinds of shows. Pulling together a show like this from all of these different places is a great exercise.”

Acquiring materials is one hurdle but then, of course, the costumes must actually fit.

It helps that musical theatre bodies and dancer bodies are similar in stature, Mogle said. It would cost around $5,000 to reproduce one of the Cyrano costumes today.

Costuming for CCM's 'Swan Lake.' Photo by Ryan Strand.

Costume technicians included three clasp sizes on the ‘Swan Lake’ bodices so they can be adjusted for different dancers.

With three different casts, and double-cast principals, it was important to make the costumes interchangeable for different dancers. The technicians included three clasp sizes for the bodices to make them more adjustable and, in some cases, built extra costumes.

The process and pieces are evolving daily, with more adjustments expected after fittings and the dress rehearsals. A beautiful design can look perfect on a mannequin but flawed when put on a body that needs to breathe, dance and kick. That is why it’s important for the costuming students to learn each step in the creative process, said Mogle.

 “The whole focus of our program is teaching design and technology so designers know how to make stuff and makers know how to design stuff. So they all have the same sensibility as to how things should look and how they should be handled. If the knowledge base in those two roles isn’t strong then things fall apart.”

After the designs are sketched, the appropriate fabrics need to be found, Mogle said of the costuming process. Then there’s making the patterns and cutting them out of the cloth and stitching them together. There’s also fabric painting and dying and mask and jewelry making.

“Each one of those is a profession in itself,” Mogle said. “The more skills you have as a technician and the more kinds of plays and operas and ballets that you can design as a designer, your job market opens up. It’s a good part of training and real life experience.”

Co-directed by Dance Department Chair Jiang Qi and Associate Professor of Dance Deirdre Carberry, the Mainstage Series production features students from CCM’s BFA Ballet program. The lavishly staged spectacle features accompaniment by CCM’s lauded Concert Orchestra under the direction of Assistant Professor of Music Aik Khai Pung.

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Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake runs April. 22 – 24 in Corbett Auditorium. Tickets are $27-31 for adults, $17-20 for non-UC students and $15-18 UC students with a valid ID.

Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online at ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice/mainstage/swan-lake.

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CCM Season Presenting Sponsor and Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy’s

Community Partner: ArtsWave

Production Sponsors: Rosemary & Mark Schlachter, Teri Jory & Seth Geiger and Graeter’s
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Story by Rebecca Butts

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CCM Slideshows: Don Pasquale

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Mary Ellyn Hutton calls CCM’s Mainstage Series production of Don Pasquale a “fast-moving delight start to finish, with beautiful singing, lively acting and a lovely-to-look-at, period production” in her review for the Cincinnati Enquirer! Read the full review here.

This week’s issue of CityBeat features an excellent profile of Don Pasquale‘s director, CCM graduate student Omer Ben-Seadia. You can read that Anne Arenstein-penned story online here.

Don Pasquale plays through this Sunday, April 6, and tickets are still available. Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online at ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice/donpasquale.

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CCM’s Mainstage Opera Series Presents Donizetti’s ‘Don Pasquale’ April 3-6

William Tvrdik as the title character in CCM's Mainstage Series production of 'Don Pasquale.' Photography by Mark Lyons.

William Tvrdik as the title character in CCM’s Mainstage Series production of ‘Don Pasquale.’ Photography by Mark Lyons.

CCM’s Mainstage Opera Series proudly presents Gaetano Donizetti’s Don Pasquale from April 3–6 in UC’s Patricia Corbett Theater. This beloved opera buffa is conducted by Mark Gibson with stage direction by accomplished artist’s diploma student Omer Ben-Seadia. The opera will be sung in Italian with English supertitles.

A comedic masterpiece that has captivated audiences since its 1843 premiere, Don Pasquale remains one of the most popular of Donizetti’s nearly 70 operas. On its surface, the opera details the plight of Ernesto, who fights to follow his heart rather than marry the woman his haughty old uncle Don Pasquale thinks he should. Outraged, the lifelong bachelor Pasquale decides to cut Ernesto out of his will and simply father his own heir, instead! A series of uproarious twists and turns ensues as a raucous ensemble of characters begin to take over the Pasquale homestead.

While it is easy to root for Ernesto and true love to prevail, Ben-Seadia suggests that it is Don Pasquale who serves as the true hero of this opera. She explains, “With all that is at stake, Pasquale is the one willing to risk it all… not just for love but for life. Sure we love to see him fail, but after all is said and done we look at Pasquale not with pity, but with the hope that he in fact will try again.”

Don Pasquale's house staff. Photography by Tom Umfrid.

Don Pasquale’s house staff. Photography by Tom Umfrid.

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