Theater, Dance, Comedy and Performance in Chicago

Preview: UNDER(cover) Episode 002

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Untitled

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Coming off of more than a decade of dancing with Hubbard Street, and several years with River North Dance, Robyn Mineko Williams landed a spot in this publication’s Top Fifty Players in Chicago for her work as an independent choreographer. And this month, she premieres “UNDER(cover) Episode 002,” developed last May during a residency stint at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. Williams caught the national eye in 2014 as one of Dance Magazine’s dancers to watch and her Links Hall debut, set to open in late May, is the second installment of her site-specific program.

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Preview: Venture by Esoteric Dance Project Dazzles In Three Parts

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Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 12.20.49 PMRECOMMENDED

Much of the current offering from Esoteric Dance Project (EDP) centers on notions of the one and the many, the individual and masses, and of the permutations at the intersections between them. Presenting a pair of the latest works from Brenna Pierson-Tucker, co-artistic director of the Project, “Venture” will also feature a new work by Joanna Paul, the first produced under the group’s new choreography mentorship program. Drawing from notions of perception and social dynamics, the stated goal of Paul’s “Hints of Reality” is to examine the role of repression in interpersonal relationships, and the “power surrendered in hiding the most honest part of oneself.” Concerned as well with the effects of environment, “the eye,” and the attendant fluctuations in movement, the choreographic framework suggests a necessary degree of introspection even in the most public of interactions. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Cinderella/Joffrey Ballet

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Temur Suluashvili and Christine Rocas. Photo: Herbert Migdoll

Temur Suluashvili and Christine Rocas/Photo: Herbert Migdoll

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During his lifetime, Robert Joffrey made his company the United States repository for the ballets of English choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton, but one work was missing from the repertory at the time of Joffrey’s death in 1988: Ashton’s rendition of “Cinderella,” set to Prokofiev’s score. The company fulfilled a dream of its founder in 2006, when Gerald Arpino gathered the funds to acquire the ballet, along with the lavish sets and costumes by David Walker. The Joffrey closes their 2015-16 season with a re-staging of the work under the eye of artistic director Ashley Wheater, who himself worked under Ashton’s direction several times throughout his dancing career. “Ashton was very clear about what he wanted to see out of his work,” Wheater says, “and in his charming way he would get it out of you.” Read the rest of this entry »

Wearable Landscape: An Interview with The Seldoms’ Visual Artist Bob Faust

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TheSeldoms_RockCitizen_JonnyRiese_P&Dhinge_lores-2

By Michael Workman

Your set design for this production of The Seldoms’ “RockCitizen” is part sculptural installation, part wearable art and part stage setting. How did you get involved with the production and how did the idea for it come about?
A year ago, Carrie Hanson asked me to collaborate on a performance that happened at the Museum of Contemporary Art called “Power Goes,” and that was the first time we ever worked together. Essentially, she was looking to me as a visual artist to create video primarily. The way she described it was that she needed, with these historic works, to have some context for the work she was delivering through the dance. So, in a similar way that she works with her sound designer, she was looking for someone else to give the audience some context. That project was a really lovely process, we all gelled really well and I totally enjoyed making the video for it and, because I was involved on the project from the beginning, that led to set design. That was our first work together and so for “RockCitizen” we know how each other works, so we’re really going at it in a very organic way. I’ve now figured out how to translate my design into moving images and it was easier for me to focus on the subject matter she was working this time. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: RockCitizen/The Seldoms

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Photo: Jonny Riese

Photo: Jonny Riese

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Carrie Hanson picks up after last year’s “Power Goes”—a brilliant evaluation of personal and political power through the lens of the Lyndon B. Johnson administration—back in the sixties, her talented cast of seven lined up facing the audience, repeatedly singing the first line of the chorus to “Me and Bobby McGee.” A woman sprawled out with a megaphone provides vocal coaching after each iteration (“um…grittier”). As the phrase evolves so does the physicality of the singers until music, sexuality and righteous resistance burst into dance. “RockCitizen” is another examination of power, specifically resistance to power… and the power of rock ‘n’ roll to galvanize social movements through the heart and the glands. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Mess Hall: Installment Two/The Coincidentals

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concident

The Coincidentals’ performance series returns with a showcase of new works by emerging dance and movement artists. Artists are given rehearsal space to collaborate, develop work and provide feedback, culminating in two performances at Outerspace Studios in Wicker Park. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: When the Wolves Came In/Abraham.In.Motion

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Sam Pratt, Katherine Ellis Kirk. Photo: Tim Barden

Sam Pratt, Catherine Ellis Kirk/Photo: Tim Barden

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Some Chicago audiences might remember Kyle Abraham from the Harris Theater last year in the duet he created for himself and Wendy Whelan as part of her “Restless Creature” program. Or the name might ring a bell from a Hubbard Street program a year ago, when the young choreographer was commissioned to create a new work for the company. This month, Abraham brings his own New York-based company, Abraham.In.Motion, back to the MCA Stage in a production of his 2014 trilogy that both celebrates and questions the progress of the 1960s civil rights movement, inspired by the Max Roach protest album “We Insist! Freedom Now Suite.” Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Secret Experiments in Ballet #4: Phantom Dance/Emily Stein Dance

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stein

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Emily Stein’s “Phantom Dance” is a reflection on how the ballet world always left her, a classically trained dancer, feeling “like a bit of a misfit intellectually.” Calling on her experiences as associate artistic director, choreographer and dancer for Michelle Kranicke’s Zephyr Dance for eighteen years, and with Deborah Hay in her Solo Performance Commissioning Project, Stein intends to use a blended choreographic approach as a way of forcing a critical realignment in the figure of the ballerina, as originated in the fairy-tale figures of “Wilis and sylphs, the supernatural incarnations of women that have become the underpinnings of the ‘ballerina’ identity.”

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Preview: Ma(s)king Her/Honey Pot Performance

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Masking_her_image

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If you haven’t encountered the work of Felicia Holman, Aisha Josina Jean-Baptiste, Abra M. Johnson and Meida Teresa McNeal, collectively known as Honey Pot Performance, you need to get on it. And if you have, you’ll be excited about their upcoming “Ma(s)king Her” at the Pritzker Pavilion. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: STOMPING GROUNDS/Chicago Human Rhythm Project

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Muntu Dance Theatre

Muntu Dance Theatre

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Percussive dance organization Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s all-free multicultural performance series returns for a second welcome year, touring the neighborhoods that each participating dance company calls home. Read the rest of this entry »