Photo: Julieta Cervantes
Like so many experiences in life, the profundity of performance is in simple, honest moments—a gesture, the repetition of a phrase physical or sung, courageous silences—and there is no question: the work of Reggie Wilson resonates deep. Wilson’s work, inspired by the spirituality of the African Diaspora, seems raw on the surface, but the precise craft of his movement language, use of music, staging and light come together with a specificity that strips away anything extra and distills the performance down to its very soul. His most recent piece, “Moses(es),” is a visual poem on migration and culture, inspired by Zora Neale Hurston’s novel “Moses, Man of the Mountains.” Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: Michel Cavalca
The end of February heats up in the South Loop with two weeks of hip-hop performances, workshops, battles and discussions hosted by the Dance Center of Columbia College. The week of the seventeenth features a panel discussion on masculinity in B-boy culture, an all-day symposium on the history of Chicago House music, breaking and old school workshops, a breaking battle and an MC battle, all leading up to two weekends of performances by visiting artists. February 20-22, France’s Compagnie Kafig presents two pieces created for a cast of young male dancers from the favelas of Rio de Janeiro; “Agwa,” in which plastic cups of water become tools for playful acrobatics, and “Correria,” a witty study of running that tricks the eye while eliciting smiles of delight. The following weekend, Raphael Xavier visits from Philadelphia with his reflection on three decades of breaking entitled “The Unofficial Guide to Audience Watching Performance,” an evening-length work that uses a blend of dance, storytelling and rhymes to relate one man’s creative evolution. Like hip-hop? This is the month to see it, hear it, do it. (Sharon Hoyer)
Compagnie Kafig performs February 20-22 at 8pm. Raphael Xavier performs February 27-March 1 at 8pm. $26-$30. Both performances at the Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 South Michigan, (312)369-8330. Full schedule of events at colum.edu/Dance_Center.
Photo: Daniel Guidara
Two haunting and beautiful Chicago-based companies share a bill in an unusual move for the Dance Center of Columbia College. The gorgeously fertile partnership that is Jonathan Meyer and Julia Rae Antonick’s Khecari present two pieces, one by each collaborator: Antonick’s piece for four women entitled “cresset: vibrant, rusting,” accompanied by a percussive and found-instrument score by Joseph St. Charles, and Meyer’s “Esther & the Omphali,” duet for two men that explores ideas of domestication and its compromises. Rachel Bunting’s dance theater project The Humans should create a complementary contrast to Khecari’s intensely somatic abstractions; Bunting uses costuming, props and deliberate, cryptic symbolism to create lovely, often spooky atmospheres riddled with dreamlike meaning. Read the rest of this entry »
By Sharon Hoyer
Chance is the incubator for discovery in Bill T. Jones’ 2011 “Story/Time.” Inspired by John Cage’s “Indeterminacy,” in which Cage read one-minute stories to his audience, chosen at random, Jones applied a similar set of restrictions to his own stories, as well as music composed live by Ted Coffey, and dance excerpts from Jones’ thirty years of repertory. The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company brings “Story/Time” to the Dance Center of Columbia College in October and Jones spoke with me via phone about the piece.
What drew you to Cage’s “Indeterminacy” as a basis for the piece?
I was inspired by John Cage, but he and I are so different I thought it would be an ironic interrogation about his notions of making. Cage’s stories are about music, Eastern philosophy, the life inside his head. I thought what is the life inside Bill T. Jones’ head? John Cage doesn’t write about sex; I do. My experiences of the art world come from my experience as an outsider. So the stories have a very different temperature. Read the rest of this entry »
Since the advent of MTV, music videos have been the primary source for our common dance language and YouTube just made it easier for audiences to gain fluency. Now one could learn “Thriller” top to bottom or the “Gangnam Style” gallop with considerably more ease—no more cumbersome switching between rewind, pause and slow-mo. New York-based Susan Marshall & Co made a couple slick, sexy music videos of their own, complete with stiletto heels and plentiful lens flare—in the creation of “Play/Pause,” their new piece that draws from wells of YouTube, contemporary dance and indie rock. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo courtesy Yi Chun Wu
The Dance Center of Columbia College partners with Links Hall for this celebration of cutting-edge, unscripted dance. Artists from across the country gather to perform, teach workshops and lead discussions throughout the week. A showcase Monday night at Links kicks things off, followed by a week of cross-disciplinary workshops at the Dance Center. Workshops delve into Contact Improv, using improvisation as a warm-up tool for artistic production, the creating of scores from systems found in life and a two-day class that begins with developing a solo practice and progresses into ensemble work. Read the rest of this entry »
Stephen Petronio’s subterranean revel begins with a cinematic prologue: a descent into the underworld, intercut with black-and-white video of crumbling buildings and other signs of apocalypse. The title of the piece then scrawls through the darkness like a child writing their name with a sparkler. Petronio is an abstract choreographer, but his ode to the music of Nick Cave can’t resist tweaking directly a few of the deliciously dark archetypes Cave favors (including a macabre ballet in tutus and garters that evokes images of the carnival freakshow, the Southwest saloon and the demented toyshop). Read the rest of this entry »
Wife-husband team Zoe Scofield and Juniper Shuey use a visually lush blend of choreography and video to explore the spaces between: before/after, action/reaction, conscious/unconscious, cause/effect. Liminality is framed by the Greek Oresteia tragedy—a trilogy of murder, revenge and the idea of justice—and haunting uses of projection and light. Gold-leaf-encrusted dancers before and behind and projected onto a scrim suggest the role memory plays in the moment of perception; small choruses of three or four move cleanly in a choreography that is simultaneously indicative and suggestive—Scofield uses a unique blend of presentational formalism and guttural expression to “mythologize the experience of our senses,” and the addition of Shuey’s visual aesthetic transports the experience to the magical realm. (Sharon Hoyer) Read the rest of this entry »
Photo courtesy Brian Kuhlmann
The intelligent, issue-based dance theater delivered by Carrie Hanson and her company The Seldoms this time tackles climate change—more specifically the complex relationship we have with the subject and our wide range of responses to it, from denial to panic. “Exit Disclaimer” (the title refers to the warnings that pop up on websites when you click on a third-party link) speaks to two previous works—“Monument” and “Stupormarket”—which addressed waste and consumption, and the economic recession respectively. If all these sound like complicated topics for a dance show to cover, well, they are and Hanson enjoys the challenge. She sees her current work as a nexus of creativity, education and responsible citizenship. Read the rest of this entry »
By Sharon Hoyer
Chicago has, over the last decade, become an epicenter of world-class dance, both as creative incubator for new and established companies and—thanks to a half dozen high-profile venues and as many outreach-minded organizations—as magnet for visiting artists across the country and the globe. Yet it’s rare that choreographers based in Africa showcase their work on the third coast. Happily, the Dance Center of Columbia College is opening their season with two programs of work by independent female choreographers from five African nations—artists who have received broad acclaim in continents across the pond, but have been rarely seen in the United States—entitled “Voices of Strength.” Read the rest of this entry »