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I Believe I Can Fly

When you’re asked, ‘If you could have any sort of superhuman power, what would it be?’ Mine was always flying,” said Carly Wheaton. “Probably because it’s not possible. You see birds do it. You see other creatures that are so ethereal do it. But I don’t think any human really knows what that feels like.” [...]
Laura Dachenbach

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When you’re asked, ‘If you could have any sort of superhuman power, what would it be?’ Mine was always flying,” said Carly Wheaton. “Probably because it’s not possible. You see birds do it. You see other creatures that are so ethereal do it. But I don’t think any human really knows what that feels like.”

Wheaton (along with several other dancers) is about to find out what it really feels like to fly as she journeys to Neverland as Wendy in BalletMet’s production of Peter Pan. Along with a number of special effects, the ballet will feature extended sequences of choreographed flight.

“There’s a certain freedom to it; I think a lot of dancers feel we get close to it when we jump and we leap and we get tossed in the air by men, but nothing as close as this,” said Wheaton. “We’re all really excited to fly.”

Michael Pink, the artistic director of the Milwaukee Ballet, created and choreographed Peter Pan in 2010. It was broadcast nationally on PBS and now comes to be restaged in Columbus with a spectacular entourage of pirates and lost boys amid ships, coves, and the twilit London skyline.

The illusion of weightlessness, and the effortless appearance of flight is the result of technical achievement—it is not a simple matter of moving or dancing in the air.

“We can’t create any force from our feet to turn,” noted Grace-Anne Powers, who will be doubling the role of Wendy with Wheaton.

“Everything we do as artists, whether you’re a performing actor or a singer or dancer or musician, takes a lot of training to get to the point of control, and being able to do things in a reliable, consistent way,” explained Pink. “And the same is said of flying. Everything about flying [on stage] is not intuitive. You do movements that you would not think you would have to do to control your spin, to control your turn.”

Flying also entails landing, and with the number of set pieces to navigate in each scene, there is no room for guesswork.

“You have to do the same things over and over again so when Peter flies into the nursery for the first time, and then flies around the nursery and steps onto the mantelpiece—he has to know how to do that absolutely every time,” said Pink.

Before it was a children’s novel, Peter Pan was a stage play. Pink’s direction, although rooted in classical dance, incorporates a large amount of that stage acting methodology: creating dialogue, finding objectives, and determining stage relationships—just as an actor would do with a script.

“Once you take the verbal aspects of that away, you have something that has a lot more honesty and depth of narrative. You’d be surprised at how much you can say without using a word,” Pink said.

Telling a story with the only thing a person completely possesses—the body—is the core objective of dance. A challenge to dancers is to be human and relatable onstage, despite the high degree of body training that makes their movement different from ordinary body language.

“As dancers, we know what angry looks like on stage. Or we know what sad or heartbroken looks like on stage,” said Wheaton, who pushes herself to respond to her stage situations in more “human” ways. “In my everyday life, what would I actually do if was upset or if I was excited or curious?”

“I think your eyes—your focus—is very important on stage. You can be doing a step and just by adding your focus at a certain point to make the step look completely different,” said Powers. “I’m sort of a person who nitpicks on everything until I create a character I’m happy with. I’m always sort of playing around, changing things so it becomes real, and it stays fresh.”

Peter Pan includes a certain amount of spectacle added to a classical art form, but balance is the key—that the lighting, costuming, and special effects will support the narrative rather than overshadow it. Pink hopes that the fantastical nature and familiar quality of the story will bring readers of all ages (and not just ballet-goers) to the Ohio Theater to see the written page brought to life.

“Coming to the ballet can be enormously rewarding and entertaining and exciting. And it can be educational in different ways,” said Pink. “So I think it’s an opportunity for people to really escape to Neverland with us.”

Peter Pan will be on stage at the the Ohio Theatre February 10 – 12. For more, visit balletmet.org.

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Arts & Culture

Q&A: Columbus artist Mandi Caskey wants to bring us together

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Context plays one of the most important roles in our understanding of art. For instance, if you saw the unveiling of Columbus artist Mandi Caskey’s latest masterpiece, you’d probably equate the message to the daily protests that have been held in Columbus over the past week.

When the mural on the abandoned highway overpass near Scioto Audubon Metro Park was started, that wasn’t the case. It was a message meant to distract us from the hardships that COVID-19 flooded our lives with.

Now, to some people, the mural’s message, which stretches over 400 feet, takes on a new meaning.

(614) caught up with Caskey to find out the inspiration behind the piece and how she feels about subjectiveness in art. Check out a brief Q&A below and some incredible aerial footage from photographer/videographer John Thorne.

Obviously a project this big can't be tackled alone. Who all helped bring this idea to life?

From what I've read, it seems like your idea for this was greenlight very quickly and easily. Why do you think people responded to the idea in your message so strongly?

What roadblocks did you run into during the process of creating the mural?

How do you think art helps people during times of unrest and uncertainty like we're in right now?

I think there's something to be said about how the mural was made on the basis of the coronavirus pandemic and bringing people together and now it can take on the meaning of the social change that needs to happen in this world. What are your thoughts on that?


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Columbus artists employed to paint boarded-up downtown for #ArtUnitesCbus

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The Columbus arts community has really stepped up to the plate when it comes to trying to unite and inspire during tumultuous times. One of the latest efforts from visual artists around the area includes CAPA and Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC) latest partnership, #ArtUnitesCbus.

“When I do these projects, I try to remember to have fun and enjoy my loved ones. Even though it’s a bad time, there’s always room for love,” visual artist Hakim Callwood said.

The creative venture will exist to employ around 20 Columbus visuals artists. Their job will be to paint murals in place of the broken windows at the Ohio Theater and GCAC office. 

The art installations are expected to be finished by the end of the week.

“#ArtUnitesCbus is just one small way the arts community is trying to help. These murals are not the answer, simply a message that we ALL can, and must, help heal our community,” said Tom Katzenmeyer, President & CEO of the Arts Council, in a GCAC press release on Monday

Now more than ever is an extremely important time to give our community artists a platform. 

“The Columbus artists are more of a family than I think people understand,” Callwood said. “Whether we all talking every day or hanging out together; it doesn’t matter. When there’s times of need we always use our talents to support.” 

Check out the progress of their murals below.

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Weekend Roundup: 5/29 – 5/31

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With Ohio slowly starting to fully reopen, initial in-person gatherings have trickled into our news feeds.

Below are a few things you can check out over the weekend if you’ve been itching to leave your house and are capable of following COVID-19 guidelines.

Friday

Fair Food Weekend @ Oakland Nursery

One of the most disappointing summertime cancellations was the axing of the Ohio State Fair. For those still wanting to get their elephant ears or deep-fried oreo fix, Chester Foods will be bringing a pop-up food truck to the Oakland Nursery. Corn dogs, funnel cakes, fried oreos, fresh-cut fries, and lemonade shake-ups will all be on the menu. Fair food will be set up on both Friday and Saturday.

Time: 12 p.m. - 8 p.m. | Address: 4261 W. Dublin Granville Rd.

Saturday

Sonic The Hedgehog/Jumanji: The Next Level and The Hunt/The Invisible Man @ South Drive-In

With movie theaters in Ohio still closing their doors, the drive-in revival has been sweeping the state, nation, and world. Once drive-ins were given the go-ahead by DeWine, South Drive-In began to provide the double feature experience to eager moviegoers. Admission is $9.50 on Friday/Saturday and $7.50 on Sunday for those 12+, $2 for ages 5-11, and free for those under 4.

The showings for this weekend are as follows: 

Screen 1:

  • 9:05 p.m. Sonic The Hedgehog (PG)
  • 10:53 p.m. Jumanji: The Next Level (PG-13)
  • 12:56 a.m. Sonic The Hedgehog (Friday/Saturday only) 

Screen 2:

  • 9:25 p.m. The Hunt (R)
  • 11:05 p.m. The Invisible Man (R)
  • 1:09 a.m. The Hunt (Friday/Saturday only)

Check out the South Drive-In website to see what social distancing guidelines need to be followed.

Time: Arrive 1-2 hours prior to first showing | Address: 3050 S. High St.

Sunday

Reggae on the Patio @ Skully’s Music-Diner

If you’re in search of a relaxing Sunday, look no further than Skully’s. The music venue/bar will be opening its patio for those to have socially distance hangs, drinks, and wings. Skully’s will be setting the mood perfectly for a chill Sunday by spinning reggae music all night long. Get yourself out of the house and go catch some island vibes.

Time: 7 p.m. - 2 a.m. | Address: 1151 N. High St.

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