Susan Van Pelt Petry Wins Grant Award

April 25, 2017
Susan Van Pelt Petry

The Deparment of Dance congratulates Professor Susan Van Pelt Petry for recieving a Coca-Cola Critical Difference for Women Grant. The grant is supporting the production phase of her new half hour dance theatre work titled The Linen Closet. With directorial support by Robert Post, this work will be presented as part of a solo show in September 2017 in Columbus, Ohio. Through the work’s episodic structure, many facets of women are portrayed: their clothes, their bodies, and their work. The use of fabric is a theme and through manipulation of sheets, napkins, aprons, and bolts of fabric, characters are revealed that are resolute, yearning, sensual, oppressed, and eccentric. The sections hint at many stories, many women – stories of oppression perhaps, about birth and death, about the male gaze, and also about the enduring fortitude of women’s work, women’s humor, and women’s tenaciousness. Petry proposes that at the intersection of body, clothing, and other domestic uses of fabric, there are rich dynamics about social constructs of identity, purpose, and beauty and she aims to tease apart these dynamics through dance and theatre methodologies including some audience interaction with the sculptural elements on the stage. The Columbus Cultural Arts Center invited Susan to perform an early iteration of this piece as part of the “Dare to Be Heard” program in autumn 2016. In addition, she created an installation work for the art gallery, using her set pieces (furniture and bins of linens) as both a visual and participatory meditation.  The work has been shared to two student audiences as part of her research methodology at Denison University and Kenyon College.  For more writings about the piece and process see

Photos by Stephanie Matthews