Year-In-Review: Best of theatre and dance

Jay Weitz, Columbus Alive

Arbitrary but convenient, the end of the year prompts us to look back at what excited, moved, delighted and surprised us in 2014 local dance and theatre.

In the Columbus dance world, two important milestones occurred. The current season bears the full imprint of BalletMet's new artistic director Edwaard Liang. We've seen several of his works now, including an impressive "Wunderland" in March, "Of Heaven and Earth" in April, and his contributions to "Twisted," the BalletMet collaboration with the Columbus Symphony and Opera Columbus in September. But extra credit this year goes to Liang for introducing us to choreographer Gustavo Ramírez Sansano. The other milestone saw the public reopening of Sullivant Hall, home of the Ohio State University Department of Dance, after a two-year gutting and renovation.

In chronological order, the dance highlights of 2014.

"18+1" by Gustavo Ramírez Sansano

BalletMet Columbus, "New Directions/New Works," April

A magnificently mambo-driven mixture of the mechanical and the manic.

"Sullivant's Travels" by Stephan Koplowitz

OSU Department of Dance, September

Putting the "grand" in Sullivant Hall's Grand Opening, Koplowitz and collaborators upstaged even the gloriously rejuvenated building, reintroducing the familiar and putting a memorable imprint on the unfamiliar.

"Lovely Together" by Gustavo Ramírez Sansano

BalletMet Columbus, "Innovations," October

Defining his own movement vocabulary, Ramírez Sansano stunned us with an extended essay on meetings and partings and things that happen in between.

"The Steadfast Tinder Soldier" by Tine Salling

OSU Department of Dance, "Solace and Mirth: Dance Downtown 2014," November

Danish fairytale and dating app collide in a robotic exercise examining human coupling, uncoupling and solitude.

In Columbus theatre, we had the disappointing update of Available Light's "Dirty Math 2016" on one hand and the unexpectedly uplifting update of Shadowbox Live's "Evo" on the other. But AVLT redeemed itself repeatedly in 2014.

The top theatre experiences, chronologically.

"How We Got On" by Idris Goodwin

Available Light Theatre, February

The best rap translates raw experience into poetic art. Depending upon your familiarity with hip-hop culture, Goodwin provided either a history lesson or a nostalgic trip - a moving one either way.

"We Are Proud to Present…" by Jackie Sibblies Drury

Available Light Theatre, March

From its frame of improvisational funny business to its final focus on stark historical truth, "Proud" brought the tragedy of Namibia home.

"Hamlet" by William Shakespeare

Actors' Theatre of Columbus, June

Setting this "Hamlet" apart, Grace Bolander seemed born to play the title role, gender be damned.

"Cymbeline" by William Shakespeare

Available Light Theatre, August

Infrequently revived, Shakespeare's late tragicomedy got tightened up and gave all of the actors opportunities to display their range.

"In Here Out There" by Actors of the Master of Fine Arts in Acting Program

OSU Department of Theatre, November

Remarkable both as a document of real world autism research and therapy and as an affecting dramatic piece, exploring and elucidating the mind of a 13-year-old.

Add up the exciting, the moving, the delightful and the surprising and you get the best of dance and theatre in Columbus during 2014.