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‘Body Symphony’ comes to the Wexner Center this weekend

The Symphonic Body/Food, directed by Ann Carlson, will be performing in the Wexner Center’s Mershon Auditorium this weekend. Courtesy of Melissa Starker.

A very special type of performance will be showcasing at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

“The Symphonic Body/Food,” directed by Ann Carlson, will be performing in the Wexner Center’s Mershon Auditorium from April 12 to April 14.

“It’s a gestural orchestra piece – think of it as a movement-based orchestral work. In this orchestra, instead of instruments, people perform gestural portraits based on the motions from their workday,” said Carlson. “In this instance, I got the invitation from the Wexner to focus on the food system here in Columbus.”

All participants in the performance are actual people that work in the Columbus food system. Carlson said that she watched their movements and gestures to build a movement-based portrait that emerges out of what they do every day.

“It’s both a celebration of them and it honors them,” Carlson said. “It invites a dialogue – both a literal dialogue and a performative dialogue by the nature of the work – within the spectator.”

Carlson has done symphonic body performances at UCLA and Stanford University, but this is the first to be centered around food activism. She was surprised at how much engagement this issue receives in the Columbus community.

“This invitation from the Wexner Center to focus on the food system here in Columbus was very compelling,” Carlson said. “I knew very little about food activism. Of course, I’m aware of it and the food apartheid that occurs in large and small cities around the world and how that is ravaging communities, but I was not aware at all of the amount of activism, investment, and passion around these topics in Columbus.”

This performance is also the first to include dance, and this is what interested Anna Legue, a second-year in human development and family sciences.

“It’s a different take on an orchestra setting and extremely unique in that it’s body symphony – literally – which was very interesting to me,” Legue said. “I’ve been a dancer for 15 years now and I’m a dance minor, so I don’t get a lot of opportunities to perform anymore, so that was a major aspect in me wanting to do this,”

Though she is a dancer, in and out of “The Symphonic Food/Body,” Legue defines the performance as a portfolio of a portrait of movements replicating people’s daily lives routines in the food system.

“It’s not actually a dance performance – it’s more so an orchestra of different movements, so it has this thought process and an orchestra and a symphony but instead of using instruments, it’s body movements,” Legue said.

Carlson describes this performance as a gathering, a gamut of movements that become a separate entity, as a form of physical music. She also designates that the enactment is to inspire the viewer to apply it to themselves.

“It invites people to consider their own everyday movements as a kind of dance of the everyday. I think it’s an invitation to take up residence in our bodies more deliberately, and to celebrate the grand and glorious and goofy gestures that make up life.”

Friday and Saturday’s evening performances will be at 7 p.m., and Sunday will be a matinee at 2 p.m. Admission is $24 for the general public and $12 for students.

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