Self-identity can be a malleable thing; we tend to define ourselves by objects, situations and people we gather around us. And why not? It’s easier to present a correlation between personality and the concrete trappings of life than to reveal the fragile subjectivity that rules our individual experiences. Perhaps this is why Margi Cole, who presents two premieres this weekend with her company The Dance COLEctive, has an easier time talking about the piece that explores collecting than the one about identity.
“IMe,” a new work by Cole created in collaboration with Jeff Hancock, combines spoken text with movement to examine how we express identity. Originally conceived as an exploration of human relationships mediated by electronic socializing, Cole discarded the internet factor and distilled the subject to personal boundaries in general.
“It’s really about how we put ourselves in a forum and how we use that to define ourselves,” she says. “What we choose to show and hide.” The piece is for the full company and is set to music by Billie Holiday and Johnny Cash.
On “Taking Hold,” Cole is somewhat more expansive. “It came from my personal interest in collecting: how we collect, why we collect, who we allow to see it, how we arrange it,” she said. “Even how we collect relationships. The objects accumulate and eventually you have to discard things; some things are easier to part with than others.” For example, Cole says that she would have an easier time getting rid of her Beanie Baby collection than her grandmother’s set of Fiesta Ware, which holds a place in her memory since childhood. Cole constructed the piece itself as a collection, creating a bunch of duets and trios, throwing them in a hat, and drawing out titles at random.
Also on the program is a revival of Shirley Mordine’s “Three Women” from 1974. Cole danced an excerpt from “Three Women” years ago and wanted to stage the whole twenty-five-minute piece for her company. “It’s a great opportunity for me to be challenged, by doing the piece in its entirety,” Cole said. “And it doesn’t feel dated. It can be hard to go back, because you’re always moving forward, always evolving. It still resonates with currency and really speaks to [Mordine’s] ability at the craft.” (Sharon Hoyer)
The Dance COLEctive performs at The Ruth Page Center, 1016 N. Dearborn (773)604-8452. January 28-January 30, 8pm. $22.