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.


Spreading Christmas Cheer

Special Report by Journalist Luscinda Dickey

I love Christmas! Wait—put that in all caps: I LOVE CHRISTMAS! And add periods: I. LOVE. CHRISTMAS. I mean who doesn’t? More than anything I want to be a part of Christmas. I have wanted to be a part of it for years. I know it sounds weird to say that I can’t, but it’s true. On Christmas day, I sit with nothing to do painting Christmas trees onto eggs… I mean cookies… and watching The North Pole Holly Jolliday Christmas Yule-A-Palooza! But I have never been able to really participate in Christmas. “That’s crazy!” you say, “why, everyone can be a part of Christmas!” That is true. BUT there is one teensy-weensy itsy-bitsy practically microscopic problem: I have a bunny ears. And I have bunny ears because I have a bunny’s head. And I have a bunny’s heads because I am a bunny. In fact I am The Easter Bunny.

Now, imagine it’s Christmas Day and you happen to see me waltzing down the street covered in tinsel and mistletoe with a basket full of brightly wrapped Christmas presents. What would you do? Well, you would either run the other way screaming: “Ahhhhh! A bunny covered with tinsel and mistletoe with a basket full of brightly wrapped Christmas presents!!” Or—and this is the most likely choice—you would begin laughing and pointing and shouting: “Hey, look at the crazy, weird bunny thing!” Then you would start throwing rotten eggs and moldy carrots at me. “No we wouldn’t” you say, but you would and you know it. No one would accept me.

So, that’s why I came up with my wonderful, amazing, terrific, spectacular idea! Here it is: I am going to masquerade as the Wistful Witch of Winter. So what is the Wistful Witch of Winter? I have no idea! I just made her up! All the duckies, chickies, and bunnies say that I must be going mad. But oops, I already am mad so who cares?

Thus far, my brilliant plan is working out perfectly! I am going to be part of Christmas and take part in this year’s broadcast of The North Pole Centennial Holly Jolliday Christmas Yule-A-Palooza! What could possibly go wrong!?! (I just hope no one takes off my hat!)

From first read through to closing night’s final bow, the Wistful Witch of Winter has, out of all the characters that I have played, been my favorite. And The North Pole Centennial Holly Jolliday Christmas Yule-A-Palooza, written and directed by Dan Beckmann and Erinn Dearth, was a show fresh and different from all others.

The North Pole Centennial Holly Jolliday Christmas Yule-A-Palooza only performed in a theatre one out of nine shows. The rest of the time we were dancing around the Triad spreading Christmas cheer to nursing homes and retirement communities. From singing a joy filled version of “Jingle Bells” with a sweet lady who when the song went into a slower three part harmony asked: “why did they slow down?” to shaking the hand of a grinning gentleman who although looked frail had a grip of steel, there was truly magic in the air. The true beauty of Christmas wasn’t in the classic songs we sang like “Oh Holy Night” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” or the favorite Christmas characters on stage like The Grinch (Brandon Lloyd Hicks) or Mrs. Claus (Mary Cain), but the true beauty was in the amazing people we met and talked to.

Spring Theatre’s The North Pole Centennial Holly Jolliday Christmas Yule-A-Palooza had its final performance Tuesday, December 17, 2019. From tour start to finish, the cast, crew, and audience shared the magic, joy, and love of the season. In the words of the Wistful Witch of Winter: “Christmas is the time of year where for one day families are joined together under one roof. Everyone is so very, very happy! Strangers are kind to one another! The true quality of the human spirit shines through. And [we got] to be a part of that.”

Photos credit of PB and J Photography


Disney’s Frozen Jr. Inspires

Special Report by Journalist Luscinda Dickey

“Let it go!” sings Elsa, Ava Belle Jones, as snowflakes dance around her. “Let it go!!!” sing two little girls sitting one row from the back of the house. The moment could have thawed the coldest heart. Disney’s Frozen Jr., presented by The Little Theatre of Winston Salem, was full of such moments.

To see a group of actors retelling one of my favorite movies in musical form was delightful! There were the same characters and the same songs (plus some new ones), and of course, there was the same story. Though, being a condensed version of the full Broadway production, I found the flow a little choppy.

The set was limited due to the small venue, but I liked the way it was used. It was made of boxes that could stack and twist. Meaning that the set could be reconfigured using the same pieces for each and every scene leaving the stage with a different look.

All in all, some of my favorite elements included the perfectly matched costumes by Tara Raczenski and the toe tapping energy filled dance of “Hygge.” Plus, who could have resisted the warm hugs of Olaf, Caroline Mendenhall.

I believe that performances like Disney’s Frozen Jr. are necessary. Not only do they provide young actors and actresses like me with a wonderful chance to perform, but they also inspire the next generation of performers and theatre goers after us.

Thank you The Little Theatre for inspiring others.