Tracing History: The Big 5-OH

IMG_0308This year, The Ohio State University Department of Dance celebrate its 50th Anniversary, The Big 5-OH. Since my freshman year, this celebration has been talked about and prepared for, generating excitement and anticipation for the Concert and many other events that the two-week extravaganza would entail. Being a senior in the Department during this milestone was truly bittersweet, as archives were brought to the surface and the history of the Department was brought to the forefront of our minds as performers, learners, thinkers, makers, and artists. What an incredible program; what inspiring history; and what an incredible blessing it truly was to be a part of the history as I performed in The Big 5-OH concert as part of Susan Van Pelt Petry’s work, Trace. (November 8 – 18, 2018)

As this show was my final performance in the Barnett Theatre as an Undergrad, it was truly a dream to be cast in Petry’s newest work, which focused on the dance element of Space. The show, as whole, consisted of a night of dance in the round: a night of full-bodied movement and multimedia animations and projections within each piece. There were four pieces in the concert, each aiming to display and engage in one of the four elements of dance: Space, Time, Flow, and Weight. As Petry dove into this task, she also introduced us to her husband, Ric Petry, who would be designing the video to be paired with us in performance.

IMG_0344The process of working on Trace was surely one of my favorite Rep experiences in my time at Ohio State, and definitely an amazing one to close the curtain on. Using the Primary Scale of Labanotation and a few other intellectual findings that Petry had gathered in her studies at OSU and beyond, an extensive toolbox of movement was generated within the first few rehearsals. After a month or so, a general skeleton of a piece had been set and we were able to dig into the depths that Petry had gifted us. Never in my four years have I had the opportunity to know so much about the movement that I was performing: every inch of it from my soul to my fingernails. From rehearsing physically to practicing numerous performance techniques, our work in the studio led us to create new connections with one another as well as be able to connect to an audience far beyond that which sits in the round of the Barnett – but rather, the audience of the universe.

My time with Susan Van Pelt Petry inspired me as an artist and as a human, in every sense of the word. I would leave each rehearsal feeling genuinely curious about the movement and experience that we were engaging in, eager to learn more no matter how physically tired my body was. Petry is a brilliant mind, who genuinely cares for her dancers and the life that they bring into the studio – the positive and the negative. She led us with grace and humility as we eventually brought her piece to the Theatre and had the opportunity to dive further into with each of the eight shows.

Performing Trace was an experience that I still do not quite have the words to describe. It was something denser than simply sharing a piece with the audience. Perhaps, it was that we were sharing part of our soul as well. I am incredibly thankful for my time spent working on this Concert and simply could not think of a better way to close out my performance career in the Barnett Theatre.

For a review of The Big 5-OH, please visit the following link:

Review by Fenella Kennedy

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