Visual art and dance performance takes center stage

When she envisions the current political climate, Naomi Falk sees temporary blockades, barriers that people put up between themselves and others.

As a sculptor, Falk searched for the best way to express this thought through her art. She decided a large installation would be great, but it would be even better if it were part of performance art.

"It gives a different level of engagement," says Falk, who likes to create interactive artwork. 

Falk approached assistant dance professor Tanya Wideman-Davis about collaborating on a project, the fruits of which will be part of the USC Dance Company's Spring Contemporary Concert, Feb. 15-18.

"It's installation inside of choreography," says Wideman-Davis.

Wideman-Davis invited Falk to a few of the early rehearsals.

"She was seeing very angular movement," says Wideman-Davis. "So she created these very angular structural shapes."

Falk, who is an assistant art professor, assigned the project to her intermediate sculpture class. The structures needed to give the appearance of heft, but be light enough for the dancers to move them.

"There was a lot of trial and error," says Micah Jenkins, who is majoring in studio art with an emphasis on graphic design. He says deciding the thickness and weight of the design proved to be a challenge given the dancers will lift them throughout the performance.

Jenkins says the experience confirmed his plans to major in interactive design in graduate school.

"The movement fostered the ideas of the sculptures and then the sculptures gave me inspiration for what the continuing elements of the movements could be," says Wideman-Davis. "They fed off each other."

The project was the perfect opportunity for two distinct areas, the Department of Theatre and Dance and the School of Visual Art and Design, within the College of Arts and Sciences to work together.

"Collaboration is really important to me because no one person has every idea for a creative experience," says Wideman-Davis. "When you bring all of those ideas together, you have a much richer project."

"Working with the dancers fit well," says Falk. "It's that level of engagement--seeing people really interacting, touching them, climbing on them, weaving in and out of them."

The concert runs nightly at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15-18 at Drayton Hall Theatre and also features a performance of a contemporary choreography by New York-based dancer Bryan Arias from the Complexions Contemporary Dance Company and works by professor Susan Anderson and associate professor Thaddeus Davis.

Tickets are $12 for students, $16 for Carolina faculty, staff, military and senior citizens and $18 for the general public. Tickets can be purchased in advance by calling the box office, 803-777-2551 12:30 p.m.- 5:30 p.m. weekdays.

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