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Meryl Tankard knows how to create a striking image. Her awareness of the body’s sculptural possibilities could be likened to Martha Graham’s. Her work reveals an extreme intelligence and sensitivity, whether it be a revisionist look at Sleeping Beauty or a hilarious takeoff on the world of ballet. Modern dance has functioned in general as a response or rebellion to the strictures of ballet, and especially for Tankard, who trained rigorously in ballet before working with modern choreographers such as Pina Bausch. Much of her work addresses how ballet puts forth an unreal vision of women, life, and the role of the dancer. Her latest work, Furioso (pictured), an aerial dance, seems to address this divide head on. Because they are suspended in air by harnesses, the female dancers in the piece are light and ethereal, flying through space. But there is no illusion here. The harnesses are made of thick black rope; male dancers propel the women around the stage. Yet the effect is still magical, as the dancers reach for each other, swoon, or separate, creating images of heaven but also of earthly concerns. At 8 p.m. (with a pre-concert discussion at 7 p.m.) Thursday, March 4, at the George Mason University Center for the Arts, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax. $15-26. (703) 993-8888. (Holly Bass)