The space between performer and audience is where Molly Shanahan and her collaborators in Mad Shak work. Her Stamina of Curiosity project, now in its fourth year, is an ongoing exploration of authenticity and the moment through the lens of Shanahan’s fluid, ceaselessly rippling and spiraling choreography. Last year’s iteration, “Sharks Before Drowning,” brought aggressive, masculine energy into the previously vulnerable equation. This chapter, entitled “The Delicate Hour,” goes beyond, recognizing both the potential of strength and the power of dismantling it.
What’s the new direction look like?
In the Stamina project we’ve been exploring resonance with the witness and how to understand that in the process of performing. The crux of that research is about how we as individuals behave around being seen and to interrogate ourselves about our responses. That’s a very slow process; it can’t be forced. I think in this piece we’re all humbling ourselves. We can be practicing in our bodies and honing the movement qualities and our execution of every bit and piece, but underlying all that is a non-mechanical human experience that has a softness to it and a hope for connection—a longing really. The various ways we attempt to fill up that longing is kind of a paradox, because we all want to do things well, but we also want to let there be some emptiness in us to be filled by the experience with the audience.
You’re going to be in a much larger venue this time. Do you have any anticipation of how that might affect the performance?
It’s definitely been one of the elephants in the room. Most of the time we’ve presented in more intimate venues. We’re hoping to create some intimacy in the Dance Center and, at the same time, use the expansiveness of it. We’re taking off the wings entirely and working on a white Marley floor that’s a little smaller than the floor of the Dance Center.
Where does the title come from?
I was in Pennsylvania for a residency in December. Every night I was struck by the dramatic hour of sunset when the light would decrease. The hills and corn stalks and trees would have these shadows and parts of the landscape seemed violated by the light in a beautiful way. I would take a walk and think “I have to hold on to this moment,” but every single moment the light would be changing. I felt such a sense of beauty and melancholy. That experience was teaching me that you can only experience change, you can’t hold on to anything about it. It’s a very common human experience, but it really struck me as poetic and relevant because the way we think about and analyze movement is bridging that all the time: trying to remain present but, at the same time, having a relationship with memory and the desire to have things go as planned.
At the Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 South Michigan, February 23- 25 at 8pm. $26-$30. Tickets available at colum.edu/dancecenter.