Participants in this year's "Dance Downtown" rehearse Tuesday at Capitol Theatre. Credit: Jon McAllister / Asst. photo editor

Undergraduate and graduate students in the OSU Department of Dance rehearse Nov. 11 at Capitol Theatre in the Riffe Center. The department’s annual ‘Dance Downtown’ is titled ‘Solace and Mirth’ this year. Credit: Jon McAllister / Asst. photo editor

Swipe left, nope. Swipe left, nope. Swipe right, and it might be a match.

Something as simple as a directional swipe on a phone screen now has enough power to connect two individuals based on attraction to physical appearance. Tinder, an matchmaker app, brings a new form and ease in speed dating to the market. 

Tine Salling, a guest artist and lecturer from Copenhagen, Denmark, for the OSU Department of Dance, choreographed a piece for this year’s “Dance Downtown: Solace and Mirth” showcase based on the lack of human connection and loneliness effects of virtual dating.

Salling is an urban street dancer who uses hip-hop movements, but her choreography style derives from a more contemporary mindset, which focuses on portraying a message.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

“(Hip-hop) impresses you but it doesn’t move you as much as piece that has a message to say, rather than just cool movements,” Salling said about the new mindset she aims to bring. “Because street urban dance always comes from interpreting the music and the club you’re in, it’s rare it comes from another place.”

OSU’s Department Of Dance spokeswoman Dori Jenks said Salling’s cutting-edge style and urban dance vernacular appealed to the department.

“Our focus is on contemporary (dance),” Jenks said. “(Salling) is an up-and-coming choreographer and she is working in the idiom of urban street dance, which is something we are very interested in as a department.”

Salling’s piece, named “The Steadfast Tinder Soldier,” is based on the distance and desolation effects of virtual dating, but it also connects with a fairy tale by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen called “The Steadfast Tin Soldier.” This story tells a tale of little tin man with one leg who falls in love with a paper ballerina and is separated from her when he falls from a windowsill. The tin man endures obstacles that separate him from his love only to end up back before the ballerina through a series of events. The fairy tale ends with the tin man thrown into a fire, but the wind blows the ballerina into the fire with him, leading the tin man to melt into the shape of a heart.  

“Tinder Soldier — that’s the little twist of it, the Tinder thing,” Salling said. “Being Danish, ‘The Steadfast Tin Soldier’ is in my background. It’s in my culture to know some of these references to these fairy tales.”

Salling said the play on words between “tin” and “Tinder” led her to choose this fairy tale. Conversely, it was the parallel of users’ dedication to continuously promote themselves on platforms like Tinder and the tin man’s dedication to return to the ballerina that drew a bridge between her message and the story.

“Putting yourself out there again and again and again made me think of ‘The Steadfast Tin Soldier.’ It’s very easy — you’re not putting yourself out there too much,” she said. “Seeing the pictures and seeing how people present themselves, I think it’s a loneliness expression. Why do people go this far? Why do people say these things out loud?”

Salling said she believed part of Tinder’s popularity is because of the design similarity to popular games, like “Blocks” and “Candy Crush,” that use the swiping motion. “It’s like a game, but a game of real people,” she said.

Cast member Quilan Arnold, who is a second-year Master of Fine Arts dance candidate, said the constant change in how people connect in today’s society is more awkward compared to the conventional way.

“I think there is this nuisance of interconnectivity between human beings in trying to find that connection with others,” Arnold said. “It’s kind of awkward because the person you try to connect to is a virtual version of themselves so are you really connecting with them?”

Arnold said he thinks the audience will read this contrast of connecting people and loneliness as chaos in the sense of relating to others. The piece should also allow them to interpret and mold this characteristic based on their respective interaction with platforms like Tinder, he said.

Although social networking presents many positive traits, Salling said it is a constant distraction — people can no longer hold on to one thing because of the idea that there maybe a better option or person somewhere in the world.

“The Steadfast Tinder Solider” is one four pieces featured in “Dance Downtown: Solace and Mirth.” The showcase is set to take place Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. at Capitol Theatre in the Riffe Center. Tickets are available at the OSU Theatre Box Office. Admission for OSU students, staff and senior citizens is $16.50. General admission is $21.50.