Photo: Rick McCullough
Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, inspired by her upbringing in an African-American neighborhood of Kansas City, founded her all-female company to give voice to the disenfranchised, particularly women of the African Diaspora. Urban Bush Women now marks thirty years of impassioned dance making for social change and comes to the Dance Center of Columbia College as part of the celebration. Two pieces are on the program: Zollar’s “Hep Hep Sweet Sweet,” a personal memoir and homage to music and culture of her youth. We’re taken to Kansas City via song, and welcomed into a nightclub scene swinging with jazz and blues—right after the narrative voice tells us that her reflections are “part truth, part memory, part rumor, part nostalgia and part myth.” Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: Yi Chun
In David Roussève’s tender new work, the fragmented, abbreviated language of texting becomes the building material of a story that is at once funny, sad and deeply humane. The hopes and frustrations of a young, unseen protagonist are splashed large on the back wall—emphasized with plentiful punctuation and emoticons—like a digital diary kept in Twitter. In the foreground, the ten members of REALITY give physical expression to his emotional life, dancing out the frustrations, drives, joys and fears of a black gay teenager navigating an inner-city world that is at once hostile and beautiful. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: Darial Sneed
By Sharon Hoyer
Heidi Latsky is a New York-based modern choreographer who works with mixed-ability dancers to create pieces that investigate and celebrate the beauty and uniqueness of the individual. Her work was last presented in Chicago as part of the 2010 Chicago Humanities Festival. Heidi Latsky Dance comes to the Dance Center next week with two works: “Solo Countersolo” and “Somewhere.”
How did you become interested in working with differently abled dancers?
I became friends with a presenter at Dance Umbrella in Boston back when I was dancing with Bill T. Jones. He had a wheelchair festival and wanted me to come and see it with him and I had no interest. There was a part of me that said “I spend all my days training as a dancer, why would I want to see people in wheelchairs dancing around? I want to see very athletic, virtuosic dancing.” So I had a very ignorant perception. Then he introduced me to Lisa Bufano, who had received a grant. She was a visual artist and bilateral amputee. He mentioned me as a choreographer who might want to work with her. I had no idea this incredible woman would become my muse; because of her fierceness, her vulnerability and her availability my whole life changed. I thought because I love what I’m doing with Lisa, could I do it again? Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: Susana Pous
A long-growing partnership between Jan Bartoszek, founder and director of Hedwig Dances, and Susana Pous, resident choreographer of the Havana-based DanzAbierta, comes to fruition next weekend in two intersecting pieces created in tandem. The difficulties of traveling between Cuba and the U.S. forced Bartoszek and Pous to work primarily separately, but “Trade Winds” and “Aires de Cambio” interlock on stage and are, in subject, context and structure, about exchange. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: Alexander Iziliaev
Chicago meets another world-class contemporary company this fall in a mixed-rep program from Philly’s delightful, knockout Ballet X. Like other great companies making fresh, resonant new work anchored in ballet technique and contemporary aesthetics, Ballet X has an alchemic combination of virtuosic dancers and artistic direction with a bell-clear, unique voice. The company was founded by co-directors Christine Cox and Matthew Neenan, who bring four works—unseen in Chicago—to the Dance Center of Columbia College. Read the rest of this entry »
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 »