Five Frames: A Choreographic Capstone

In order to get a diploma from the University of Oklahoma, students must complete a capstone course worth 3 credit hours. Across colleges, the course is “designed to culminate a student’s undergraduate field of study and place it in a larger social, intellectual and professional context” and should offer “an intensive experience in the major or interdisciplinary field at the senior level of performance.” According to the University’s website, “the capstone must also include an in depth writing component.”

In OU’s nationally recognized School of Dance, part of that “in-depth writing component” can be mitigated if a student chooses to choreograph a final piece as part of their capstone course. In the 2017 graduating class of 13 students, seven chose to choreograph pieces for their capstone. Of those, two were ballet majors, and of them, one was Ashley Coffin.

Although Coffin, a Kansas City native, majored in ballet pedagogy she chose to take multiple modern dance and choreography classes throughout her time at OU. She has participated in the Young Choreographer’s Showcase with pieces that displayed her understanding of both classical and contemporary movement. So when the time came for her to take her capstone course, doing a choreographic project was a no-brainer, especially since it lowered the writing requirement from 30 pages to 10. Even with the shorter length, the paper was a huge part of the creative process.

“For the past 3 nights I’ve been up until like 2 a.m. just doing research and I’m like gosh darn it I just want to choreograph!” Coffin said. “It will all be worth it in the end though. I’m excited. I think it’ll be interesting.”

Over the course of her last semester in college Coffin worked alongside 20 of her peers, setting a 40 minute piece on them to enter into the Oklahoma Festival for the Arts. The journey was a long and tedious one, but together, choreographer and dancers made it to the festival and put on a show that Coffin, at least, won’t soon forget.

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