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Ohio State dance students to turn Thompson Library into performance hall with ‘Library Dance Works’

Courtesy of Brian Devine

On college campuses, libraries are often used for studying and the occasional coffee break, but one Ohio State library is set to become a dance stage for an afternoon.
“Library Dance Works,” a Master of Fine Arts event, is scheduled to take place in the William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library Monday at 12:15 p.m. The dance will take place in multiple levels of the library, within the book stacks and in the East Atrium.  
The dance incorporates site-specific work, said Kate Hale, academic program coordinator in the Department of Dance. Site-specific works are those that take place outside of conventional recital spaces like studios or theaters.
“This is the first time we have ever done something like this,” Hale said.
Choreographer Brian Devine, an MFA dance candidate, said he wanted to use the space after falling in love with Thompson Library.
“I am creating a dance that is dictated by the space,” Devine said. “It is really a beautiful space, and I hope that this will just add to that.”
The dance department has been encouraging students to try the concept of site-specific work so the dance can be brought to the audience rather than the audience going to the dance, Hale said.
Devine said the dancers will begin behind the glass in the stacks and on the second floor and will trickle down from there.
“It involves movement in relation to the architecture and structure of the library as well as paying attention to the structure of the dance,” said Erin Blunt, a fourth-year in dance and a dancer in the piece.
Devine said he has been working with the dancers since August but has been thinking about his concept for much longer.
Devine researched the piece for more than a year. The choreographer said he spent time in the library looking at traffic patterns and researching student flow through the space to determine the exact time when the performance should begin. “I am most excited about the fact that it is going to be at noon, and a very high traffic moment for the library and to see how people react,” Blunt said.
Devine agreed.
“I am most excited about the possibility of people to experience the library in a different way,” he said.
But having students simply walk into the library during the dance posses challenges as well.  
“There are a lot of unknowns when performing in a public space,” Devine said. “You have to be aware of the people who are walking by.”
But Devine said the people at Thompson Library were very helpful and open to his idea of using it as his stage.
Because the dance is not set to music, the performance will not be a loud anomaly within a quiet library.
“I am hoping that it will be something that people will stop and watch,” Devine said.
“Library Dance Works” is part of “Ten Big Ideas,” a season of MFA dance projects put on by the class of 2013 MFA dance candidates.

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