Molly Shanahan has been a positive force in the Chicago dance community for twenty-five years. With each new work, she continues to captivate audiences with highly nuanced choreography indicative of her ongoing investigation of the creative process. Next Thursday’s premiere of her latest piece, “Of Whales, Time and Your Last Attempt to Reach Me,” is the fitting inaugural event for the Dance Center of Columbia College’s “Process v. Product Festival,” which invites participants to critically reflect on the processes of creating and viewing dance through an interwoven series of performances, panels and workshops.
Part exercise in collective memory, part exploration of choreographic craft, Shanahan’s new work is a forty-seven-minute quartet that engages viewers at the convergence of conscious, subconscious and unconscious memories, which together form the useful, and sometimes not so useful, contents of our awareness. Through a sophisticated physical dialogue, set to a sound collage designed by Shanahan with contributions from musician Kevin O’Donnell, the individual dancers collate past experiences into a loose narrative that employs the body as storyteller.
“We explored… how we clothe ourselves in our movement,” Shanahan says of her approach to the work. “One of our primary research modes has been recognizing those movements, habits, postures or places that comprise body states that we as a group or as individuals tend to rule out and undervalue on a performance stage. We are trying to put those states out there without exploiting them or making fun of them, but by having some tenderness for them and also having a sense of humor about how something so fragile can become something imbued with power.”
Through this process, Shanahan and Mad Shak dancers Kristina Fluty, Jeff Hancock and Megan Klein generate an innovative movement vocabulary that defies convention and stretches aesthetical constructs. While each mover offers their own unique delivery of the dance, they are bound together by their inescapable humanness and shared recollections. (Alyssa Motter)
To learn more about the creation of “Of Whales, Time and Your Last Attempt to Reach Me,” check out these related “Process v. Product Festival” events:
• Post-Performance Discussion
Thursday, March 29 after performance, The Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 South Michigan, (312)369-8330. Free.
• Pre-Performance Talk
Friday, March 30 at 6:30pm, Sherwood Community Music School recital hall, 1312 South Michigan, (312)369-3100. Free.
• “Swimming Inside: Diving in the Whales Process with Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak”
Saturday, March 31 from 3-4:30pm, The Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 South Michigan, (312)369-8330. $10.
• Sunday Snack Choreo-Chat with Bebe Miller & Molly Shanahan
Sunday, April 1 from 3-5pm, Links Hall, 3111 North Western, (773)281-0824. Free/RSVP.
Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak at the Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 South Michigan, (312)369-8330. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, March 29, 30 and 31 at 7:30pm. $10-$30. Tickets at tickets.colum.edu.