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MFA students fuse wilderness and the abstract into dance

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Dancers for Tammy Carrasco’s  “Les Fauves (The Wild Beasts)” during practice. The second part of “Watch from Here” runs Thursday through Saturday at Barnett Theatre in Sullivant Hall. Credit: Courtesy of Tammy Carrasco

Dancers for Tammy Carrasco’s “Les Fauves (The Wild Beasts)” during practice. The second part of “Watch from Here” runs Thursday through Saturday at Barnett Theatre in Sullivant Hall.
Credit: Courtesy of Tammy Carrasco

Rachel Barker, an Master of Fine Arts dance student, spends her summers at home skiing, mountain biking and river running in the vast wilderness of Utah.

“I love that physical thrill and rush of not just looking at the environment, but being in it,” Barker said.

The rest of the year, though, she leaves the mountains and rivers to study dance at Ohio State.

Barker is attempting to fuse those two worlds in her solo “Silt,” one of the performances in the second part of thesis series “Watch From Here” running Thursday through Saturday at Barnett Theatre in Sullivant Hall.

“My question was to see how much of my Utah landscape, what vestiges of those surroundings can I bring back to Ohio with movement, with dance,” Barker said.

In preparation for “Silt,” Barker spent the summer in Utah with fellow dancers and a videographer. She danced in her native Utah landscapes, from mountainscapes to the Great Salt Lake.

“I really tried to engage all of my senses to feel, hear, smell, taste and let that inform the way that I moved regarding my surroundings,” Barker said.

The dance footage will be projected on art installations during “Silt.” The installations, created out of paper, hang from the ceiling and are made by local artist Leah Frankel.

Barker’s costume is also cream-colored so the projections can be seen on it. The costume includes a layered skirt, intended to represent the layers of sediment in the Earth.

“I’m really challenging myself to experience my memories of the outdoor landscape and also experience the present of this manmade, different environment, so how can I live in both worlds at the same time basically,” Barker said.

“Watch from Here” also includes Tammy Carrasco’s “Les Fauves (The Wild Beasts)” and Mihwa Koo’s “Laminated Glass.”

While Barker was inspired by nature and her environment, Carrasco was inspired by art itself.

The art movements of cubism and fauvism influenced her with their bold, vibrant, sometimes clashing colors, which will be represented in the three dancers’ costumes.

The dancers themselves influenced the performance as well, in that they were allowed to improvise during practices.

“It was a collaborative process. Each dancer is very unique,” Carrasco said.

Dancers’ movements will range from “quirky” and “humorous,” to more classical, Carrasco said.

The performance will be accompanied by a diverse score, Carrasco said, ranging from Meredith Monk to Prince. But a lot of the performance will take place in silence.

“I was attracted to art that was more abstract in nature, but left you with a very distinct feeling,” Carrasco said. “I’m drawn to that in dance.”

Tickets are available through the OSU Theatre Box Office and on the Department of Theatre’s website.

The dances are set to be performed Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. with an additional Saturday performance at 3 p.m.

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