What it Means to be a Cohort

The Corona Cohort, OSU MFA class of 2023 in 8 out of 8

This year is a difficult one to say the least. 2020 has brought us fear and anxiety in the forms of a global pandemic and political turmoil, it has inspired our activism through protests, and has challenged humanity by testing our patience, stamina, and resiliency. Personally, this year has brought many changes, some planned and others unexpectedly. I know that I would be starting grad school but I never thought it would be under the circumstances I find myself in now. However, I’m extremely lucky and grateful that I have such a supportive cohort, one that if full of creative and generous individuals. 

What is this word, cohort? We use it today in many ways. In the context of higher education, it refers to a group of students who began their education at the same time, i.e. the class of 2023. In a more specific sense, it is a collective of students who are in the same program or department that are going through the matriculation process at the same time, i.e. my cohort of MFA in dance students. In more general terms it defined as a group of people banded together or treated as a group. However, the word cohort has historical roots in Latin, Middle French, and late Middle English. It comes from the Latin word cohortem which means enclosure or infantry company, and was used to identify specific military units in the Roman army. In Middle French the word cohorte could mean a company of soldiers or a band of warriors. 

In many ways my cohort at OSU takes on all of theses meanings. Yes, we are a group of individuals who began our journeys toward an MFA together, but in many ways we are also a band of warriors. Through our collective knowledge and experience we have helped each other through the tough times of beginning this process in a year full of strife and grief. In our Choreography Workshop course in particular, it is our cohort’s feedback, comments, and observations that drive our creative explorations further, affirm our individual queries, and inspire deeper conversations around our research processes. Like the Roman cohortem, we are also in a battle. Not a battle to conquer lands, but a battle to survive as artists in a time when hope can be hard to find. 

This piece we created, 8 out of 8, is a representation of our banded-togetherness. It is a piece that was created in a way where all our voices were heard and where each individual contributes to the group as a whole. We were inspired by a podcast by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, in which she speaks to the way inspiration and creativity comes to us and how we pull it toward us. As we assembled this piece we let our natural movement tendencies drive us and our eye for greatness in others to affirm inspiration in the whole group. In the end, 8 out of 8 is a representation of what it means to be together as a cohort. It is about what it means to be there for others and what it means to have others be there for us. It is a celebration of our differences and similarities and a tribute to our fighting spirit.

8 out of 8 from John Cartwright on Vimeo.

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