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BWW Review: Films Capture Mastery of Movement in Ohio State Department of Dance's DANCE@30FPS

From "Home Alone," directed by Adi Halfin (Israel).
Credit: Photo by Zohar Ralt

The translation of art from the stage to the screen is often viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism. Yet an annual event by the Ohio State Department of Dance proves that the fusion of dance and film is far from two-dimensional.

"Dance@30FPS," a presentation of dance films from around the world, was hosted on OSU's campus in the Wexner Center for the Arts' Film/Video Theater on Feb. 11. The program, consisting of several short films, has been curated and organized by Mitchell Rose, an associate professor in the OSU Department of Dance, for the past five years.

The 2016 program featured 12 films organized into three main categories. In his pre-show talk, Rose explained that he selected the films after viewing many of them at various film festivals. He later organized them into thematic groupings for the purpose of the "Dance@30FPS" event.

The evening began with five films centered on the theme of "Confined Spaces." As the name suggests, each piece included in this portion dealt with the idea of confinement. Notable pieces from this theme included Paul Sarvis' "Rooms," an emotionally layered piece that depicted the fragility of the aging human body and mind, as well as Matt Tarr's 2011 film, "Little Ease [outside the box]." In this imaginative piece, Tarr transported Elizabeth Streb's solo choreography, originally performed within the confines of a rectangular box, to the streets of North Brooklyn. The use of unconventional locations spliced together during post-production created a seamless blend of dynamic imagery that did not interrupt the intensity with which this piece is meant to be performed.

Other films presented in the first grouping included Adi Halfin's "Home Alone," RJ Muna's "Origami," and Mitch Stratten's "OCP," an exquisitely choreographed piece realized through imaginative feats of engineering and vivid multimedia effects.

From "Origami," directed by RJ Muna (USA). Frame grab.

Throughout the program, audience members were encouraged to share their thoughts regarding the films included in each theme during a group discussion led by Rose. Although it was interesting to hear the backstories of the pieces, it became abundantly clear that the majority of the audience was made up of dance and film aficionados. Indeed, although the insight into the "behind the scenes" aspects of the films was understandable by all, the discussion at times became too didactic and detailed for the casual viewer.

The next thematic grouping, titled "Homegrown," featured four films that all had connections to OSU. Senior dance student Cailin Manning presented her film, "Unveiling," while OSU alumna Ellen Maynard collaborated with current student Serena Chang to create "Undertow," which brought new life to Columbus-area settings though contemporary choreography.

The final two pieces in this section, both by Rose, further tested the creative flexibility of using film to capture movement. Atmospheric details, such as the fogginess of cold winter air and the striking whiteness of an untouched blanket of snow, were showcased in "Aura Lee," while an impressive cast of 80 dancers from five Ohio university dance departments darted around the screen in "Targeted Advertising," a large-scale narrative production shot by a drone. On both a micro and macro level, Rose's two films perfectly embodied the beauty of capturing dance on film. The camera added a multi-dimensional aspect to these pieces that could not feasibly be recreated on the stage.

After another short break for discussion, Rose introduced the last theme: "Art of the Martial." The two films, Isabel Rocamora's "Body of War," and Marianne Kim and Cheng-Chieh Yu's "Martiality, Not Fighting," focused on the links between the power of combat, control of martial arts and the gracefulness of dance.

From "Body of War," directed by Isabel Rocamora (U.K.).
Credit: Photo courtesy of Galeria SENDA

Rose concluded the program with the presentation of "Me: Story of A Performance," by Jopsu Ramu, which was selected as both the judges' and audience's favorite during the 2015 program. This whimsical piece once again stretched the limits of both dance and film to create an entirely new world of visual eccentricities, and proved to be the perfect ending to an evening of artistic innovation and exploration.

The Ohio State Department of Dance is scheduled to host its Spring Concert April 7 - 9 at the Barnett Theatre, located in Sullivant Hall on OSU's Columbus campus.

More events can be found on the Ohio State Department of Dance website.

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