Otterbein Theatre and Dance Explores Emotions in “Dance 2020: The Wild Within”

Posted Nov 17, 2020

Members of the Otterbein Department of Theatre and Dance reached back into their collective childhoods for the annual dance concert, Dance 2020: The Wild Within, which runs Nov. 19-22. 

Inspired by Maurice Sendak’s children’s classic, “Where the Wild Things Are,” the performance will include a collection of solos, duets and trios that explore the power of imagination. 

It was Sendak’s vivid illustration of the child’s imagination that inspired Professor Stella Hiatt Kane to conceive and choreograph the concert. “The growth of our imagination and the journey can bring us comfort and the affirmation that we can — and should — love ourselves and others,” she said. 

Hiatt Kane said there are traces of “wild things” within us all even as we leave childhood for adulthood. In early rehearsals she asked each dancer to create a name, image, color and gesture for each of their assigned wild characteristics. 

Hannah Schmidt, a sophomore musical theatre major from Bainbridge, OH, plays Thorn, who she describes as the rebellious and nonconforming Wild Thing of the production. “We played a lot with my physicality, specifically the strut I do throughout the show and how I can play with confident recklessness in my movement.” 

The other Wild Things include Akribeia, a conformist; Phobos, who represents fear; Bastet; who represents sensuality and intimacy; Oogie, who illustrates the light of childhood memories; and Sage, who represents wisdom. 

Melissa Knapp, a junior allied health major and dance minor from Centerville, OH, said that the Wild Things illustrate the different aspect of human personalities. “We all have different Wild Things within us, and it is how we choose to accept that they are a part of us, as much as we are a part of them, that defines us. While some Wild Things may be harder to accept than others, they all work together to make us who we are.”  

These wild emotions and feelings all belong to the central character, Avabelle, played by Emily Baggarly, a sophomore musical theatre major from Claremont, CA. 

Baggarly says that the concert is “about our complexities and many facets as human beings. What makes one person choose good and another person choose evil? Do we accept all sides of ourselves or do we push them away?  Do we allow ourselves the capacity to be rebellious and a perfectionist and dangerous and sexy and silly and weighted and hopeful all in the same person?” 

In order to safely produce during the COVID-19 pandemic, the concert is filmed in advance and streamed via the website The dancers perform in masks, and captioning for the music is provided. An Internet connection is required to access the stream. 

Tickets for the streamed performances cost $15 per device. Call 614-823-1109 or visit to purchase tickets remotely. The box office is open for in-person and phone sales from 12-4 p.m., Monday through Friday. It is located in Cowan Hall, 30 S. Grove St., Westerville. 


Dance 2020: The Wild Within 

Nov. 19-22, 2020 


The performances of “Dance 2020: The Wild Within” will be fully staged complete with lights, sound, scenery, and costumes in the Fritsche Theatre at Cowan Hall and available for viewing via scheduled streaming on the Internet. 

Thursday, Nov. 19         7:30 p.m. 

Friday, Nov. 20              8 p.m. 

Saturday, Nov. 21          8 p.m. 

Sunday, Nov. 22            2 p.m. 


Conceived and Choreographed: Stella Hiatt Kane 

Additional Choreography: Rachel Fish ’22 

Scenic Designer: Kailey Miller ’21 

Costume Designer: Rebecca White 

Lighting Designers: T.J. Gerckens & John Diver ’21 

Sound Designer: Doc Davis 

Filmographer: Stephen Rossman 

Film Editor: Kaelin Hagler 

Stage Manager: Avery Barrett ’22 


Avabelle                        Emily Baggarly 

The Wild Things: 

Thorn                Hannah Schmidt 

Akribeia            Melissa Knapp 

Phobos              Daniel Keeling 

Bastet                Rachel Fish 

Oogie                 Jackson Gifford 

Sage                   Victoria Mesa