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Ohio State Department of Dance show asks audience to move along with performers

A dancer rehearses for the Department of Dance’s newest show, “Anamnesis.” Credit: Courtesy of Coal Rietenbach

A performance just as creative as the improvised nature it came from, the latest Department of Dance show invites audiences to dance along this weekend at Sullivant Hall.

Choreographed by graduate dance student Ashlee Daniels Taylor, the interactive dance performance asks attendees to participate in movements throughout the show in an effort to increase body awareness.

Danielle Barker, a first-year in dance and a dancer in the show, said the show, “Anamnesis,” consists of a variety of interactive spaces in which the audience will be prompted to participate in movement with the dancers.

“They have to be prepared to be engaged,” said Daniels Taylor. ”There is no just passively consuming the work.”

Much of the choreography in the show came from improvised movement from graduate and undergraduate students in the Department of Dance. A large part of the process was “creative play,” which Taylor said consisted of using improvisation to open their minds and free their bodies.

Taylor said adults can often get too caught up in their heads and forget the ways they can use their bodies to express themselves. The performance is meant to provide a break from that way of life.

“This piece is a way to get back to that sense of play, curiosity, and wonder often felt as a child,” Taylor said.

While preparing for the show, Barker said Taylor had her dancers reflect on their progress –– allowing them to openly show their disagreement or fustruation.

“Some of her work I didn’t understand, and that was OK,” Barker said. “I never felt comfortable disagreeing with a choreographer [before Taylor].”

As a whole, “Anamnesis” heavily incorporates technology to capture the audience’s attention. Barker said each area or space in the show includes media to some extent.

Taylor said the show was inspired by a combination of learning about somatic practices and technology that has been available to her at Ohio State.

Somatics is a field within the realm of bodywork and movement studies that emphasizes the internal physical perception and experience, or the body as perceived from within.

“The project became a way to explore how I can use technology to help non-dance people to become aware and more engaged with their bodies, and then explore how that awareness affects the way we interact with people,” she said.

Though the show will be an an immersive experience, Taylor said there will be accommodations for those who might not be able to fully engage in movement, and that she hopes the event is very accessible for attendees with disabilities.

For a choreographer, the goal of this performance is to impact the way people understand dance and how the body affects the way they interact with others in the world.

“That connection with themselves can affect even how they interact with people they don’t know. If you’re feeling good in your body you might even have a happier outlook,” Taylor said.

There will be seven showings of “Anamnesis” in room 350 of Sullivant Hall from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Admission is free and tickets are available here.

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