Take 26 snippets of choreography, four selections of music, a string quartet and a scorecard, and mix long enough for an intermission. What you get is CDT A-Z.

Take 26 snippets of choreography, four selections of music, a string quartet and a scorecard, and mix long enough for an intermission. What you get is CDT A-Z.

Fresh off their 10th-annual production of the holiday ballet Matchgirl, Columbus Dance Theatre and artistic director Tim Veach prepare to undertake a different sort of challenge.

"For many years I have performed a three-minute improvisation entitled Here and Gone... with solo musicians," Veach explained. "We walk out on the stage and they play their instrument and I dance. We essentially jam. I have always wanted to carry this sort of experiment into the realm of choreography and group work.

"I think this is a pretty bold attempt to do so," he continued. "All of these ideas are really born out of the pioneering work that was done by [choreographer] Merce Cunningham and [composer] John Cage. With Cunningham's passing this year, this concert seems particularly appropriate, carrying the spirit of post-modernist art-making forward."

Here's the premise: Audiences entering Fisher Theatre are given scorecards. The first part of the concert features 26 phrases of Veach's choreography, labeled A through Z, danced by seven Columbus Dance Theatre dancers, plus four pieces of music played by Central Ohio's Carpe Diem String Quartet - violinists Charles Wetherbee and John Ewing, violist Korine Fujiwara and cellist Diego Fainguersch.

Audience members rate each dance phrase and musical selection from one to five. Scores are tallied during intermission and Veach constructs a dance out of the top 10 phrases and the highest-rated music, performed in the second part.

At this point, only the members of Carpe Diem know what the music will be. As Veach put it, "We are trying to hold back on people knowing what selections will be played in an effort to have the audience come to the performance completely free of expectations or biases. The music could be anything a string ensemble can play and it could be different for the two different performances."

For his own part, Veach had to seriously rethink his work approach to create CDT A-Z.

"In general, I am a very music-driven choreographer. I listen to the music a lot, and I build the work from the music," he said. "This process demands that I fashion phrases that will work in any metrical structure.

"The danger, of course, is that there is a kind of neutrality that can occur in a process like this," Veach continued. "Because there is no rhythmic variable, the dancing can become flat. So, I have pushed myself to be as expansive as possible in the movement vocabulary. In this way I hope to have every movement dynamic available to me when the moment of convergence with the audience and the music occurs."

Another possible risk that Veach intends to avoid is having his experiment come off as a gimmick.

"There are as many ways to choreograph as there are ways to compose music, paint, plant a garden or write a poem," he noted. "Some methods are immediate, reactive and brief. Some are expansive and slow and careful. There is excitement, daring and artistic satisfaction in all approaches. I believe that art-making and the creation of dance can withstand the 'moment of instinct.' This particular approach will be somewhat in the framework of action painting a la Jackson Pollock."

Veach hopes that CDT A-Z will be a learning experience on both sides of the footlights. As he explained, "Some of the most exciting moments that I have experienced in dance come out of the first spark of the creative moment, that very first time you see the dance come together. This concert is a way to allow the audience into that process."