The invitation to contribute to this year’s “Artist Takeover” of the Fall Arts Preview got me thinking about what stimulates me to go see what I see. After a good twenty-five years as a dancer/choreographer/educator, what draws me to a seat in an audience these days? The answer to that question was satisfactorily familiar. It’s my people, my friends, other dancers and artists whose aesthetics, or minds, or footwork, or ability to keep a huge community of artists spellbound on Facebook, have captured my attention. When they are performing, I go see, and when they say “I’m going to this,” I go see… whenever I can because to experience is extended through knowing one another and seeing and feeling again and again in the retelling and the conversations and the references later over coffee or drinks or rehearsals. So this preview is a glimpse into those conversations and the recommendations of a sampling of richly talented and thoughtful Chicago artists. I asked each artist what stimulates them to go see dance, and what they are looking forward to seeing this season. In addition to whatever they recommend, I recommend Googling them if you don’t know them already, look out for them and their work whenever and where ever. (Onye Ozuzu)
Their, Their/Local Honey
Opening: September 5 at 6pm, On view through Sunday, October 11
Slow Pony Project, 1745 West 18th.
Local Honey is a New Orleans-based artist addressing these issues through her/his/their gender and identity. Channeling her own vulnerability and personal revolution, Local’s practice shifts visual and perceptual elements of self, confronting limitations in the viewers’ identification process. There are moments when Local’s work blurs divisions of artwork versus life as it draws directly from her personal celebration in the shadows of uncertainty and intermediacy. In the exhibition “Their, Their,” Local provides the viewer an engulfing installation in the Slow Pony Project‘s storefront. This installation combines multiple videos and Local’s own body in performance, submerging the viewer in Local’s visual world.
Supreme Love/M.A.D.D. Rhythms
“At this time I would like to tell you that no matter what… It is with God. He is Gracious & Merciful. His way is through love, in which we all are. It is truly, a love supreme…” —John Coltrane. Supreme Love, choreographed by Jumaane Taylor, “One of the Top 20 Hoofers under 20,” Dance Spirit Magazine, and “One of the Top Five Dancers in Chicago,” Chicago Tribune, expresses true life through the art of tap dance, recreating the chants of John Coltrane’s manifestations through the album “A Love Supreme” and discovering truth from the sounds of the Universal Zulu Nation.
“I’ve been thinking much about blackness, and the expansive and complicated terrain of black living bodies in motion… thank you for the opportunity to contemplate those thoughts inside of and across form….several people told me I need to see ‘The Freedom Principle’ at MCA…” —Taisha Paggett, Performer/Choreographer
Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernández
September 26 and 27
The Auditorium Theatre
From the heart of Mexico City, founded in 1952 by Amalia Hernández, Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernández has historically celebrated traditional dance and musical pieces from various regions and folk music genres native to Mexico.
“Well I will go pretty much anywhere if I am interested. Things that draw me in are familiarity and an interest in the work that particular choreographers are exploring. Who is performing, what have I heard about the work from others or directly from the collaborators. If it is someone I am not familiar with, word of mouth and my own research are important. This fall I am particularly excited about seeing Stephen Petronio’s work at the Dance Center. I am excited about the artistry of the dancers and the historical significance of the work that they are doing.” —Margi Cole, The Dance COLEctive
Bloodlines/Stephen Petronio Company
The Dance Center of Columbia College
Petronio’s most recent project is Bloodlines, “an initiative to honor an incomparable lineage of American postmodern masters.” For its Chicago performances, SPC performs the post-New York City premiere of a program including “Glacial Decoy” by Trisha Brown, with visual design by Robert Rauschenberg; “RainForest” by Merce Cunningham, with music by David Tudor and visual design by Andy Warhol; and Petronio’s “Non Locomotor” with music by Clams Casino and the Young People’s Chorus of New York City.
“Most of the attraction I have is to participate for me, it’s not necessarily about the ritual of going to see performance. I like it when I don’t have the feeling that I am at a performance ‘ritual.’ I am drawn to an observer/participant vibe, museum spaces, and joints where you get frisked at the door. Berlin, Wang’s, the Smart Bar, Difibrillator, Links Hall. I love to take and watch classes at Ayodele Drum and Dance at Sherman Park, I think that Tosha “Ayo” Alston is important as an artist and a person dealing with and shaping the materials that she is using. Ginger Krebs too, in her workshops the people in the space are participating in different types of witnessing.” —Darrell Jones, Performer/Choreographer
AGAINST BEING a dance about nothing/Antibody Corporation
October 30-November 1
Adam Rose is a 2014 Chicago Dancemakers Lab Artist Award Recipient. Antibody Corporation debuts his latest work about movement between the spaces of evolving and existence. Rose’s artistry lies in its ability to illuminate without categorizing the spaces between motion.
The Cronus Land/Khecari
October 16-November 13
The Shoreland Ballroom
Expanding upon last year’s sold-out performance “Oubliette,” Khecari’s new work is an epic, site-specific dance work installed in the decayed splendor of the grand ballroom of Hyde Park’s historic Shoreland Hotel. “The Cronus Land” is contextually abstracted, yet physically literalized, with the bodies of both performers and a twelve-person audience journeying through a massive dance-riddled labyrinth before entering the micro-theater to witness the culminating performance in a five by eight foot pit.
N.N.N.N. and One Flat Thing, reproduced/Hubbard Street Dance
Harris Theater for Music and Dance
The Fall Series features Hubbard Street premieres of “N.N.N.N.,” created by William Forsythe in 2002 and performed by four men; and “One Flat Thing, reproduced,” premiered in 2000 for an ensemble of fourteen dancers and twenty large tables, also the choreographic basis for the interactive website Synchronous Objects.
“I find, as a theatre director, contemporary dance to be very influential… for me dance is always ahead of the curve; theatre follows. I am inspired by the inherent theatricality of the dance in Chicago, inherent to the way the bodies are moving in space, and increasingly to the way technology is brought in. For me, it is a source of pleasure and inspiration. Here in Chicago I enjoy Hubbard Street, for me I learned dance through that tradition, their resident choreographers… in particular Alejandro… I balance that with the opportunity to see the work curated at the Dance Center, to see new work, work that I am underexposed to, like hip-hop. The DC offers the chance to revisit the work of particular choreographers and this season I am looking particularly forward to the return of Joe Goode and his bold use of theatricality in his compositions… a total theater” —John Green, Theater Director, Chairperson, Theatre Department, Columbia College Chicago
Same Planet Different World: Stripped and Niv Sheinfeld/Oren Laor: Two Room Apartment
This program pairs Chicago’s Same Planet Different World with two Israeli choreographers/dancers, in three dance works about the politics of personal experience. “Stripped,” by Same Planet Different World’s artistic director Joanna Rosenthal, explores how technology affects our lived experience. “Two Room Apartment” is a playful and gripping duet that reflects upon Sheinfeld and Laor’s relationship as partners in life and dance. A third newly created work choreographed by Sheinfeld and Laor for Same Planet Different World completes the program.
“Once upon a time, when I was able to choose my own performance destiny much more so than now, I often made my choices based on the where. I was determined to see a show at every theater/performance space in Chicago (an impossible quest given the pace of openings and shutterings). Now it revolves much more on how urgent it feels to experience the work live. Outside of what’s happening at Links this fall, I’m most excited about Tapman Productions’ Supreme Love at the Athenaeum in September, Khecari’s The Cronus Land at the Shoreland Hotel in October and Research Project #9 (date tba) The Space Movement Project’s quarterly work-in-progress showing at Outerspace” —Roell Schmidt, Links Hall.
Compañía Folklórica Yoruba Andabo
Gary and Laura Maurer Concert Hall, Old Town School of Folk Music
The Yoruba Andabo Company was born on the piers of the port of Havana in 1961 when a group of laborers would get together for parties and artistic events through their union. Today, the group is made up of sixteen artists, singers, percussionists and dancers. This crew of artists expresses the various musical genres that represent the African roots of the Cuban culture including Conga, Yoruba, Abakua and the full range of RUMBA with its traditional rhythms, especially Yambu, Guaguancó and Colombia.
Twyla Tharp 50th Anniversary Tour
In a momentous co-commission with Ravinia Festival, the Auditorium Theatre presents two new works by world-renowned choreographer Twyla Tharp. Composer John Zorn provides the show’s vibrant introductory fanfare, followed by the first new work, “Preludes and Fugues” set to J.S. Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavier.” The second piece, “Yowzie,” is set to music by Henry Butler and Steve Bernstein. Each dance is comprised of twelve dancers—many whom have worked with Tharp over the years.
BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play/Camille A. Brown & Dancers
The Dance Center of Columbia College
“BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play” reveals the complexity of carving out a self-defined identity as a black female in urban American culture. With original music compositions, performed live by pianist Scott Patterson and electric bassist Tracy Wormworth, Brown uses the rhythmic play of African-American dance vernacular, including social dancing, double dutch, steppin’, tap, Juba, ring shout and gesture, as the black woman’s domain to evoke childhood memories of self-discovery.
“I do end up going to see performances of my friends a lot. I don’t necessarily think that is a bad thing. I see people I know. A lot of shows tend to be group kinds of shows so you see people you know and people that you don’t and you work your way out through that, you meet new people. I like crossed audiences. I see music and dance in the context of performance art. Local Honey has a show in September. Called “Their, their” at Slow Pony Project in Pilsen” —Adam Rose, Antibody Corporation
Jessica Lang Dance World Premiere and Chicago Debut
Harris Theater for Music and Dance
Commissioned by the Harris Theater and the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial, a major international architectural event, American choreographer Jessica Lang will create a new dance for her company, Jessica Lang Dance, in collaboration with celebrated architect Steven Holl.
Lang will take a sculptural approach to this new work, utilizing visually arresting sets and costumes, enabling three-dimensional interactions with bodies and objects that evoke emotions and tangible sensation.
Day of the Gypsy/RPM Productions
Harris Theater for Music and Dance
RPM Productions presents the world premiere of “Day of the Gypsy,” a highly innovative dance-theater collaboration with choreography by Ruth Page Award winner Gordon Peirce Schmidt and featuring live accompaniment by Grammy Award-winning musician John Jorgenson and the John Jorgenson Quintet. “Day of the Gypsy” is an immersive theatrical experience inspired by the mystical allure of Gypsy Jazz music and its iconic pioneer, Django Reinhardt.
“I am drawn to work that makes me uncomfortable or compels me to respond viscerally. I also go to see dance to support and help sustain the arts sector. I am a part of it…at usual spaces like the Dance Center, Links Hall, the Harris and Auditorium Theatre. I also make it my business to support dance performances and events happening on the South Side, whether it be at the DuSable, Logan Center, ETA or at nontraditional spaces like South Shore, Hamilton Park or the Washington Park Incubator. I enjoy seeing dance in my neighborhood….extremely excited to see work at the Dance Center by Camille… I am also excited to see Petronio’s company. Of course I will be checking out my homie and fellow NYU alum Kyle Abraham’s work at the MCA. I am seriously excited about hosting and participating in the Technology of the Circle Informances… as a part of Chicago Artists Month.” —Vershawn Sanders-Ward.
At The Table: A Mycelial Conversational Dance
Monday, November 23
At The Table is an ongoing series of events in collaboration with performance artists, musicians, dancers, philosophers and activists. These events bring together individuals to experience and explore performance, participation and food as a celebration of our basic needs: sustenance, shelter and connection to others. This event will respond to the ideas unearthed at the October event which will be developed with a group of movement practitioners and dancers, who will explore these mycelial prompts by co-creating possible scores and choreographic systems to bring this biological model into the body.
Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak’s next step in Virtuosity of Forgetting, an annual choreographic exploration of ensemble creation, oral history, spontaneity, and remembering. Performed by Kristina Fluty, Ben Law, Jessica Marasa, and Molly Shanahan, “Virtuosity of Forgetting,” is an evening-length quartet with dancers who continue to explore collaboration and the values of vulnerability, connectivity to self and other that interests us all.
Onye Ozuzu, who is now acting dean of Fine & Performing Arts at Columbia College Chicago, is a dancer, choreographer, administrator, researcher and all-around deep thinker on the culture.