Performing art is visual. Visual art is performance.

Performing art is visual. Visual art is performance.

In the Ohio State University Department of Dance, the above is described with the term "intermedia," and while not really a new idea, it provides the framework on which the department's upcoming Off the Wall programs are built.

Off the Wall is a collection of projects by bachelor and master of fine arts students, to be presented over two weekends in OSU's downtown Urban Arts Space. The free performances utilize the full dance program, from student dancers and choreographers to faculty and beyond, according to MFA candidate Jess Cavender.

All of the works, Cavender said, feature deliberate pairing of movement with other media, beyond the traditional choreography to music. Incorporating technology, visual art and live music with dance offers "new ways to frame movement," she said.

Cavender's work "Equivogram" is an interactive video installation that involves a "covert performer," Cavender said.

"The video concerns the images we make of ourselves and how we represent ourselves in this sort of idealistic presentation that can distract from reality. So I have this experiment where I see what happens when the audience is distracted by this representation and what they might miss," she said.

"Equivogram" shares the first weekend of Off the Wall with MFA candidate Rachel Sigrid Freeburg's "Bodybodybodybodybodybodybodybodybodybody," an examination of the moving body in a physical, real-flesh manner. Freeburg is concerned with softening the body so that muscle tone does not distract from the dancer's humanity.

The work incorporates visual design elements from MFA student Maria Difranco and live music by local musician Sally Louise Polk.

The final piece on Part I is professor David Covey's "Orb," a work featuring dance and blown glass created in collaboration with MFA candidate Jonathan Capps, a glass artist.

MFA student Sarah Levitt's "Full Will" opens Part II of Off the Wall, the project's second weekend of performances.

"I wanted to look at the human urge to test the limits of the body, exploring that through different movement vocabularies, from boot camp-style drills through a more lyrical dance," Levitt said. "The work concerns themes of impossibility, of what happens when you decide to undertake impossible tasks, like being invisible or flying."

"Full Will" includes an installation from artist Leah Frankel and sound design by Stowe Nelson.

Christine Ghinder is the sole BFA student with work featured in Off the Wall. Her "Prism" is an improvisational installation featuring four dancers, a visual artist and a live musician.

Projected colors serve as initial inspiration for the creation of improvised movement, art and music, which changes as the color field changes. Subsequently, "All of these aspects also inform each other," Ghinder said, "and the performers can also respond to what they're seeing and hearing in the space."

MFA student Quillan Arnold's "Negus" is the final piece on Part II. The work features three black male dancers, the visual art of Kehinde Wiley and DJ Dorian Ham in an examination of the poetry of rap music and the portrayal of the black male in American society.

The non-traditional nature of the collected pieces is enhanced by the presentation in the art gallery spaces at Urban Arts Space.

"All of the works are utilizing space, technology and visual arts in ways that are furthering their artistic endeavors that would not be possible without the support of the Urban Arts Space," professor David Covey said. "It is a great opportunity for the choreographers to reimagine their work for an interactive environment and get their work out into the community to be viewed in new ways."

"Taking theatrical elements into a non-theatrical space and placing the audience in close proximity to the performers gives you a seal sense of the flesh, the human-ness of the performers," Cavender said. "It really pushes the focus of the self-aware performer onto the audience."

"You can't really concern yourself with which side of the performance people are watching from," Ghinder added. "All of the spaces will find the audience on more than one side of the performers."

"When the audience is seated on all sides of the dancers, they can really consider the physical, full-bodied nature of dance," Levitt said. "Transferred to such an enclosed space, you really wonder how close you can get to the audience."

"The way dancers engage the walls and the floor in the gallery space is very different from the way a group of drawings or paintings may relate to that same space," Merijn van der Heijden, deputy director of exhibitions and curatorial practice at the Urban Arts Space, said. "Engaging with the gallery space on multiple sensory levels will only heighten the viewers' perception and awareness."

Cavender said her piece purposefully involves the audience, asking "who is on stage, what is on stage."