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Human form explored in dance concert

The emotion of love and the art of dance will combine this weekend in Sullivant Hall.

Dance pieces performed by six faculty members, three visiting artists and five married couples, will be performed during the Ohio State Department of Dance’s “Manimals and Other Human Creatures.” The event is at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

“Love has a lot to do with art,” said Susan Van Pelt Petry, chair of the Department of Dance.

“Patterns of Prayer,” a collaboration of Petry’s choreographing skills and the visual artistry of her husband, will open the show.

“We actually met because of art,” she said.

Her piece features nine dancers who will perform in front of a background video projection made by Ric Petry of the Columbus College of Art and Design.

“In the film, there is an image of a piece of twine that moves across the screen, and the figure of a dancer spinning,” Susan Van Pelt Petry said. “There is also the idea of prayer in different cultures and religions that serve as metaphors as opposed to a literal narrative.”

David Covey, professor of dance, will perform “For Merce and John.” Covey’s solo piece celebrates the collaboration of late choreographer Merce Cunningham and composer John Cage.

“There was a partnership between Merce and John,” Petry said. “David is paying homage to honor the couple in memoriam.”

On the eve of their retirement from the OSU dance faculty, John Giffin and Victoria Uris will perform a duet called “Companions.”

“They have been married for over 20 years, and they met at Ohio State when they joined the faculty,” Petry said.

The piece choreographed by Susan Hadley, a professor in the Department of Dance, is about memories, friendship and spending a life together.

“It’s a silent work with no music. It’s a very sweet portrait of two people who have been together for years and are companions in how they move in rhythm together,” Petry said.

Visiting artists Abby Yager and Ming-Lung Yang will perform “Nocturnes No. 4 and No. 6,” a work by dance professor Melanie Bales set to the music of French composer Erik Satie.

“Abby and Ming-Lung are a couple that met when in a dance company together,” Petry said.

OSU dance instructional aids associate and sound design specialist Michael Wall composed the original score for his wife’s solo performance of “George Lassos the Moon.”

Frank Capra’s use of shifting symbolic meaning in “It’s a Wonderful Life” is the inspiration for Meghan Durham’s solo piece which plays with light, gesture and movement.

Also being performed is a new work by Giffin titled “Manimal House,” inspired by Camille Saint-Saen’s zoological fantasy “Carnival of the Animals.”

“[Giffin] has a sense of humor in his choreography,” Petry said. “He takes portraits of an animal and uses them as portraits of people, as behavior scenes from sketches that are ‘manimals.'”

Petry said the Department of Dance has presented similar fall performances since the 1980s.

“It presents a faculty research and creative activity forum for residents, visiting artists and undergraduates,” she said. “You can safely say that our department involves undergraduates and graduates in research to a higher degree.”

The hour and a half event with an intermission has nine discrete pieces, all with different appeal, Petry said.

“It’s a nice chance to see contemporary dance and not feel intimidated. This is not like confusing elitist stuff,” Petry said. “It’s really good date-night material.”

The box office will open at 7:30 p.m. General admission tickets are $10, and student and senior citizen tickets are $5.

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