In the Oculus

K. Partridge: Movement Director
Luscinda Dickey: Choreographer, Musical Composition, Dancer (The Girl, The Shadow, The Witch)
Carrie Dickey: Costumes and Hair, Cinematographer and Video Editor

I like to think of “In the Oculus” as a piece of “living art.”


Back in late summer of 2021, my dance teacher and I were trying to come up with a concept for our next dance: something different that would push the boundaries of what I had done before. 

I had meanwhile been playing around with a melody on the piano. The melody had evolved into the beginnings of a song. That’s when the idea hit: what would happen if we completely flipped the way that most dances were choreographed and, instead choreographing a dance to a piece of music, I wrote the music to a dance? 

The dance itself, we decided, would be inspired by a piece of artwork that I had loved ever since I’d first seen it: John Coyne’s “Oculus, 2021.” The watercolor shows a table and a chair in the middle of an otherwise empty oculus. What was a seemingly broken chair doing in that massive oculus? What could be lingering in those strange shadows and that black doorway? What story could have taken place there? 

This mysterious room was like the Hall of Charn in C. S. Lewis’ “The Magician’s Nephew” with its empty courtyards, yawning arches, curious light, and frozen figures. I worked to turn my thoughts into movement, and one month later, I had about two minutes of choreography. At that point, the dance was about a Girl who wanders into the oculus and encounters a dark enchantment that holds everyone in it captive. But as beautiful as the dance was, I still felt like something was missing. It wasn’t enough to know that The Girl was encountering an enchantment, we needed to see the enchantment itself. 

It was then that I decided to split the dance into two parts giving one to The Girl and the other to a new character: The Witch, who embodies the room’s enchantment.

But why just have two characters when we could tell the story even better with three? Inspired by the shapes in the painting’s darkness and that looming, black doorway, I created the character of The Shadow. 


“In the Oculus” is the story of The Witch, The Shadow, and The Girl. The Witch is a dangerous and evil Queen. She has the strength and the magic of many women. The Shadow is The Witch’s minion. Tortured and in constant agony, she embodies the spirits of those who have fallen under the Witch’s enchantment. The Girl is a normal, everyday person who has wandered in The Witch’s oculus and finds that she has more power than she ever knew. The music gives each character a distinct voice.

The video of the dance was shot in three parts and overlaid.