Dance preview: 'Parallel Connections'

Jim Fischer
Columbus Alive
Dancers from BalletMet Columbus and Ohio State University Department of Dance.

If dance is a universal language, then “Parallel Connections” presents the richness of its varied dialects and accents.

Dancers from BalletMet Columbus and the Ohio State University Department of Dance will present a program that features repertory work from each, blended with work by Wexner Center for the Arts Wexner Prize-winning choreographers and concluding with a collaborative piece by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin.

“The four pieces on this program take you through such a range of movement aesthetics,” said OSU Department of Dance Chair Susan Hadley. “Audiences are going to see a level of intensity that is remarkable.”

“There are different ways of speaking, if you will, and each choreographic voice is distinct, but everyone can understand [them],” said BalletMet Artistic Director Edwaard Liang.

“Parallel Connections” includes BalletMet dancers performing James Kudelka's “The Man in Black,” a piece set to the music of Johnny Cash and danced in cowboy boots that the company world-premiered in 2010. BalletMet will also perform Wexner Prize winner William Forsythe's “Slingerland Pas de Deux.” OSU dancers will present an homage to dancer/choreographer Merce Cunningham that debuted during last year's Black Mountain College-themed exhibition at the Wexner Center.

The evening will conclude with Naharin's “Minus 16,” set in the distinctive Gaga improvisational movement technique.

To get the sense of the varied nature of the program, Liang said to consider the feet.

“For the Kudelka, it's in cowboy boots. The Cunningham is a modern work done in bare feet, while ‘Minus 16' is danced both barefoot and in sneakers,” he said.

Hadley added that the program flips long-standing traditions for both organizations, with BalletMet as the established classical company and OSU's dance department firmly rooted in modern dance.

“And yet here you have BalletMet dancing in jeans and cowboy boots, while OSU dancers are in white unitards standing on one leg with the other high in the air,” she said. “It's already thwarting what our expectations might be and presenting a pretty true picture of the eclecticism of the current dance scene in this country.”

“Parallel Connections” also serves to open Ballet's 40th anniversary season.

“Columbus is hungry for more world-class dance, and this partnership allows us to do that. We've wanted to do a collaboration for the four years since I've been here, and I can't think of a better way than to open our 40th season,” Liang said.

Mershon Auditorium

8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 20 and 21

1871 N. High St., Campus