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BWW Review: Ohio State Department of Dance's WINTER CONCERT Driven by Intensity, Emotion

Credit: Lexi Stilianos

From the stomping of rhythmic footsteps reverberating unaccompanied through the darkness to the lyrical interpretation of biblical verses that merged multimedia art with movement, the Ohio State Department of Dance's "Winter Concert" showcased nine works laced together by the common threads of intensity and emotion.

Performed in the Barnett Theatre, located within Sullivant Hall on Ohio State's Columbus campus, the concert put dancers' skills on display while also presenting the work of master choreographer Chien-Ying Wang and several pieces choreographed by graduate and undergraduate students.

The program began with "What Things Remain," a project by MFA candidate Kristina D'Onofrio that incorporated digital screens into a work exploring Hebraic poetry and biblical themes through the language of kinesthetic movement. The reading of Psalms 23, 46 and 103, combined with the warm beams of light that created beautiful shadows on the opposite wall of the stage, painted a picture of candles flickering around an altar in a cathedral. The use of the screens to display the text of the psalms encouraged the audience to compare the static presentation of the written words to the fluidity of the choreography.

Other notable pieces from the first half of the program include "Your steps are ordered. Know yourself and love yourz, for this is your eternal sunshine," an emotional and empathetic solo choreographed and performed by Alyssa M. Parnell, as well as "Wounds," another impactful piece that explored the changing dynamics within a five-person family unit, choreographed by Erica Jackson.

Raw power was evident in the startling opening of Anna Brown Massey's "Training Ground," with a quartet of dancers' bare feet tapping out a complicated rhythm that shook the entire floor. The vibrations led to an interesting interactivity between the movement occurring on stage and the audience, an effective tool in breaking the barrier that often separates those who create art and those who view it.

The fourth wall was completely shattered in the piece that followed, "I'm Not Done Yet," choreographed and performed by Madeleine Naylor. Directly addressing the audience in front of her through her movement as well as words, Naylor cheekily presented an enjoyable and, at times, comical, commentary on what it means to be a performer both on stage and in every day life.

Following a brief intermission, the second half of the program picked up right where the first left off in terms of intensity. The four pieces of the final portion of the show were, as a whole, more experimental than those included in the first half, incorporating multimedia art in the form of projections and lighting design in Alexandra Stilianos' "Mise En Place," as well as jarring silence and creative use of props in "Help Name It," choreographed by Claire Moore.

Callie Lacinski's "Pieces" showcased the technical discipline of the dancers on stage, accompanied by driving rhythms and decisive movements that fused commercial and concert dance into a performance that left even audience members' hearts pounding by the end.

The program concluded with a performance of Wang's "Benevolence," a multisensory work that tantalized the audience with its masterful inclusion of movement, sound and structural visual elements in a cohesive examination of the role of community during times of conflict. From the soft whirring of fans to the wisp of silk leaves floating across the floor to the startling crashes and bangs of wooden furniture pushed around the stage by the dancers' bodies, "Benevolence" was a powerful work imbued with strength that left those who viewed it with plenty to ponder long after it concluded.

The Ohio State Department of Dance's next event is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 11 at the Wexner Center for the Arts' Film and Video Theatre. "Dance @30FPS" is set to begin that evening at 7 p.m.

The department's Spring Concert is set for April 7 - 9 at the Barnett Theatre.

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

Sullivant Hall is located on Ohio State's Columbus campus at 1813 N. High St.

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