Kelly Cope

Dancer, choreographer and video editor Ashley Friend will be bringing her progressive post-modern performance entitled “One-Off Weaving” to the Spanos Theatre tonight and Friday starting at 8 p.m.

Inspired by her father, who was a local visual artist, professor, gallery owner and weaver Dennis Friend, who died at age 32 from Anthrax-poisoned wool used in his weaving just six weeks after his daughter was born, Friend has created a thrilling tribute to him in three parts. She will perform the first two – Weaving I and Weaving II – and will debut the third part, plus a piece showcasing what she calls the “scary body.”

Conception of the tribute series will be an ongoing, lifelong endeavor, as Friend plans to complete all 32 parts – one for each year of her father’s life.

Friend’s “scary body” composition utilizes prosthetic props, which are attached to the dancers’ bodies. An interesting struggle ensues when the dancers try to deal with the choreography with the extra additions. The difficulty is representative both literally and metaphorically of the limitations humans impose on themselves and each other.

The “scary body” technique has also been used in some of Friend’s previous performances such as in 2005’s “Triage: PART I” and 2004’s “Amorphosis,” both performed in Columbus, Ohio.

The audience’s experience will not only involve the dancers on stage, but also cutting-edge video, sound design, lighting, prosthetic props, set and costuming, which will all help to convey Friend’s message that dance is not only entertaining, but also stirring.

“Starting from a fetal position, Friend’s (Weaving I) solo evolves by means that are alien, hesitant and always unexpected,” wrote Jay Weitz in his article “Top 10 of 2003: The Year in Theater and Dance” for Columbus Alive 2004.

Rachel Boggia, assistant professor at Ohio State University, spoke of Friend in a graduation speech in June 2005, telling the crowd, “Her body expresses the dark and scary side of life with a specificity that most of us can only dream of, and a lighthearted twist that makes it all OK in the end.”

In addition to Friend, Joe Alter will lend his talents as a guest artist if the concert, in the form of a solo, entitled “Spiegel im Spiegel.”

A professor in the School of Music and Dance at San Diego State University, Alter has also performed and choreographed nationally and internationally. His passions lie in the study of sensory communication, the human condition, personal story and new technologies.

A group directed by Liu Yu of the Wushu Taichi Center of downtown San Luis Obispo will perform a Fan Dance, or Taichi Fan, as well. The dancers’ graceful, deliberate movements and the sharp claps of their fans as thunder rolls overhead will provide a contrast to the overall performance.

A question-and-answer portion will follow the show at the end of the night. This will be an opportunity for audience members to ask any questions of the dancers and choreographers or express any thoughts they have on the night’s performance.

Tickets, $10 for students, seniors and children and $12 for adults, are still available at the Performing Arts Center.

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