Poetry and dance have always shared a denigrated status across cultures for not commanding the material value of the other art forms and their attendant cultural sway, so it’s nice to see the two team up in defiance. Thus it shall be this Saturday when the Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble joins forces with the Poetry Center of Chicago to present “Body Passages.”
The project is the dream child of Natasha Mijares, curator of the roaming monthly Six Points Reading Series for the Center, who approached CDE artistic director Sara Maslanka with the idea. “Both of our nonprofits support teaching artists in Chicago Public Schools and arts programming all over Chicago, so it was easy to come to terms on how we wanted to go about working together. We have been in development since January, and our poet and dancer triads have been working since May. We paired dancers and poets based on style, voice and perspective,” explains Mijares, who notes that there was a distinct difference in treatment of text and movement from group to group, and those distinctions are a rallying point. “I expect audiences to see how poetry is integral to our daily lives and how it lives on and off stage for us to witness and celebrate. I think the performance is an opportunity to discover intersectional methods in art making and movement and I hope it inspires others to listen to one another more to catch these movements of crossing, synchronicity and resistance.”
It was a perfect match for Chicago Danztheatre, considering the company’s record of adapting poetic texts from T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland” to works by Rumi and Edgar Allan Poe. Mijares and the Poetry Center assembled a diverse set of movement artists and poets. “Once selected, we had an initial meeting for everyone to meet and share a little about themselves. We called it ‘Collaborative Blind Dating.’ From there, artists filled out a profile that included work samples, interests, backgrounds, who they’d like to work with, and availability.” That workshopping led to dancers Ansley Davis and Maggie Robinson pairing with Alexis Matesi, Emily Loar and RE|dance group executive director Lucy Riner pairing with poet Stella Binion, Synapse Arts artistic director Rachel Damon pairing with poet Ashley Keyser, and dance/movement therapist and Pages Per Content founder Jessica Diaz pairing with poet Jacqueline Baker. All that raw talent refined fusing the two art forms should make for a very interesting evening. Not to be missed. (Michael Workman)
Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble at the Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble Auditorium, 1650 West Foster, $5-$15, (773)486-8261, or poetrycenter.org. August 19 and 20.