River North Chicago Dance performs Valentine’s weekend at the Harris; it’s appropriate timing for a show entitled “Love Is…” highlighting passionate partnering work. Artistic Director Frank Chaves spoke with Newcity about two premieres on the program: one from him, one from Mauro Astolfi, Director of Rome-based Spellbound Dance Company.
Your new work, “The Good Goodbyes,” is a collaboration with Chicago Children’s Choir director Josephine Lee.
Josephine and I had worked together in 2006 on my biggest work to date, “Underground Movements.” Josephine is a phenom; we really clicked as creative soul mates. We talked about wanting to work together again. One of my favorite instruments of all time is the piano and that’s her instrument. We had a great time working on it. I gave her samples of things I’d been listening to lately and we talked about how I was feeling at that point in life. It was fun to collaborate with her in that way. She came up with something that I can only describe as contemporary meets classicism.
How were you feeling at that point in life?
I’ve had a tough last year and a half. I’ve had my second surgery on my spinal cord. It’s caused a lot of nerve damage. I’m losing my legs a lot; I can’t move like I did a year and a half ago. Throughout that difficulty—physically, mentally, emotionally, every way you can think about it—I was looking to find some beauty.
It led me to think of my relationship with my dancers. One of my dancers just had her tenth anniversary with us and was on the fence about perhaps seeing the end of her time working with us. That made me reflect on how incredibly fortunate I have been to have had so many wonderful relationships in this business that are very intense and intimate. But, in the grand scheme of things, they’re really short. Seeing these dancers come in at age twenty, twenty-one and seeing them grow into beautiful people—human beings as well as artists—that time we share is very special. That’s where “The Good Goodbyes” came from. We know there are bad goodbyes as well, but we see so much of that. It sounds clichéd, but Josephine and I wanted to bring more beauty into the world. Out of a lot of turmoil you find a way to find beauty.
Can you tell me a little about the premiere from Mauro Astolfi?
“Contact-Me” is exactly what it should be called. He’s a magician when it comes to contact. This is something totally different; he has such a unique signature. He’s very atmospheric. It’s an intertwining of bodies that I’ve never seen before and done so well. The commission has expanded our reach and repertoire, stretching the dancers, doing something new and different. Yet the aesthetic fits in terms of being accessible and entertaining, which are words I live by. (Sharon Hoyer)
At the Harris Theater, 205 East Randolph, (312)334-7777. February 10-12, Friday and Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 3pm. $30-$75.