Posted by: trailerpilot | 11:26::2017


Floyds Place Seattle

Floyd’s Place, now closed, was located at 521 First Avenue North in Seattle, Washington.

Recently a friend of mine, who had been going through old files on her computer, said she found a short story I wrote and she wanted to know if I wanted her to send it to me. She said it was about beer and I only vaguely recalled what she was talking about. I said yes.

Sent three months before I turned 21, it’s an email which I would probably call my first piece of writing as an adult. Anything written prior to this was most likely a school assignment, or was something I’d done when I was very young. I don’t remember writing anything “for fun” when I was in high school or in my late teens.

Revisiting these 2,000 words of observational non-fiction, I am reminded of many things but four in particular about 20-year-old Zachary Whittenburg:

• He read a lot of David Foster Wallace and David Sedaris
• He fancied himself something of a badass
• He went to the public library to use the internet
• He knew he would move away from Seattle within a year

This tale, How I Made the Second-Easiest Twenty Dollars of My Life, is slightly embarrassing in the way things you said and did at age 20 generally are. I’m at peace, more or less, with those things and it’s been four years since I’ve published anything new here at, and so this will live at the top of the page for a while.

If you enjoy it and this is your first visit to my blog: Welcome! There are more than 400 posts here, going back nearly a decade, most of which have something to do with dance in Chicago, contemporary art, or design. I’m easy to find elsewhere online and generally keep up with trailerpilot on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The latter is where you will find links to stories I’ve published more recently.

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Posted by: trailerpilot | 10:27::2013

ISO at “REVIVAL” | Postmortem

Self-portrait, ISO rehearsal

Self-portrait, ISO rehearsal

In early April 2013 I was invited to participate in “REVIVAL” by directors / producers / impresarios Eric Andrew Hoff and Jesse Morgan Young. I would create one of nine performances to occur simultaneously during the event, held October 25 and 26 at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park and about which you can read more here at Time Out Chicago. Despite not having performed in more than three years — and not even sure who my “performer self” was anymore — I decided to accept and got to work conceiving something both appropriate to “REVIVAL” and reflective of my ideas. This post is a retrospective report of that process, and its product, ISO (“EYE-so”).

The core prompt for artists involved in “REVIVAL” was a pair of questions: What are we praying for? and What are we willing to sacrifice? I was immediately curious about who “we” were. Humans? Americans? Queer people living in Chicago? Not being a person who subscribes to or practices any religion, I was also curious about the question of prayer, and began wondering what prayer means to me, and whether anything I do or have done in the past might qualify as prayer. Read More…

Posted by: trailerpilot | 08:16::2012

New York dancemaker Larry Keigwin choreographs Chicago

It’s a mild and beautiful summer evening on Chicago’s North Side. Thirty-some people have trickled into the vast, light-filled gymnasium at Nicholas Senn High School in the city’s Edgewater neighborhood. “WELCOME TO THE HOME OF THE BULLDOGS,” says a mural opposite the gym’s entrance. The hand-painted block letters accompany a picture of a mean-looking pooch wearing a spiked collar and sailor’s “Dixie cup” hat, surrounded by 31 championship banners and an American flag.

Chicago Dancing Festival 2012 BOLERO CHICAGO photo Araceli Arroyo 3

Ashley Browne of Keigwin + Company, left, rehearses the cast of Bolero Chicago at Nicholas Senn High School in Edgewater. Photo: © Araceli Arroyo

Dancers Gary Schaufeld and Ashley Browne, both of New York troupe Keigwin + Company, wear plain white tops with royal blue bottoms (shorts for Schaufeld, jeans for Browne). The two swear it’s a coincidence. They’ve met with a group of Chicagoans six times before at Senn to create and rehearse choreography to Ravel’s Bolero, for next week’s sixth annual Chicago Dancing FestivalBolero Chicago will be featured twice: on August 20 during “Chicago Dancing” at the Harris Theater, whose capacity is roughly 1,500; and on August 25 during “Celebration of Dance” at the Frank Gehry–designed Pritzker Pavilion, which can accommodate about ten times as many people.

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Posted by: trailerpilot | 08:16::2012

Samsara | Film review

Still from SAMSARA courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories 1

Still from Samsara. Photo: Courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories

A planet-sized coffee-table book of a film, the 99-minute Samsara by Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson routes unnarrated, untitled footage from 25 countries through a lens drawn to repetition, patterns and epic scale. Many of its 70-millimeter frames could pass for photographs by Andreas Gursky or Edward Burtynsky. One scene looks like it was shot in the same chicken-processing factory in China that Burtynsky documented in 2005.

Collated with these postcards for overpopulation and consumerism are portraits of men, women and children with penetrating stares. By the time Samsara ends, we’ve met dozens of today’s Sharbat Gulas: a maimed veteran whose entire head looks rebuilt through plastic surgery; a Himba woman from Namibia; a dancer at the front of a line performing the Guanyin dance of a thousand arms; a white man and two teenagers, presumably American, posed proudly with their rifles in a garage.

Samsara vacillates between an indictment of what we’ve done to the world — and to ourselves in the process — and wide-eyed wonder at the glorious mess of it all. Grand civic, religious and royal architectures receive similar treatment to natural wonders like glaciers and Arches National Park. (Shots of cliff dwellings at Betatakin, in Arizona, and carved-from-rock facades at Petra, in Jordan, bridge the gap, as we see in details how these miracles of the built environment are being reclaimed by time. A brief glimpse of Mali stings, as holy sites there were damaged this summer by Islamist Ansar Dine militants.)

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Posted by: trailerpilot | 08:03::2012

Linkage | July 22–August 2, 2012

I’d like to kick off this Linkage post with a hearty thank-you to the folks I follow on Twitter. There are 932 of you as of August 2 and you’re doing an amazing job of helping me keep up with the world. You make me laugh a lot, too. Big hug.

Speaking of Twitter, Talking Points Media ran an interview recently with Anthony De Rosa, social media editor at Reuters. David Taintor asked De Rosa excellent questions and De Rosa gave Taintor great, focused answers. Also:

The Guardian ran an article about subeditors.

The New York Times ran an article about a place where pianos go to die.

At a hotel restaurant in Toronto, Tracy Letts, William Friedkin and Ben Kenigsberg had a chat.

Brain Pickings gathered “the most compelling and profound of [Susan] Sontag’s thoughts on writing, arranged chronologically.”

Gore Vidal died and Salon collected seven of his memorable appearances on television.

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Posted by: trailerpilot | 08:02::2012

Chicago Human Rhythm Project: “Solitary Soles” | Review

A young man around 14 years old, wearing his Chicago Cubs cap backward, returned late to his seat in front of me last night as tapper Yuji Uragami performed a solo a capella. In just three long strides, this kid slipped past half a dozen people and into his empty chair. He didn’t make a sound.

Yuji Uragami photo Makiko Yamamoto

Dancer Yuji Uragami. Photo: Makiko Yamamoto

This kid knew how to make a move without leaving a trace. But he probably also knows how to make noise. The Edlis Neeson Theater at the Museum of Contemporary Art on August 1 was full of adults, yes, but also many young ones and teenagers. “Solitary Soles,” the first of three programs this week of Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s annual series, “JUBA! Masters of Tap & Percussive Dance,” coincides with “Rhythm World,” its summer festival of master classes and workshops, now in its 22nd year.

Since July 23, a crop of rising talent has spent its days training with Jason Janas, Derick K. Grant, Dianne “Lady Di” Walker and CHRP’s Lane Alexander, at the newly christened American Rhythm Center in the Fine Arts Building. Through August 5, “Rhythm World” continues with courses including a three-day session for hoofers ages 9 to 12 and two programs for tap ensembles. At night, the students watch their summer teachers — among today’s top talent worldwide — perform live, and learn even more.

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Thodos Dance Chicago 2012 New Dances 8

Brian Hare, left, and Caitlin Cucchiara with Thodos Dance Chicago in “Lullaby” by Brian Enos. Photo: Cheryl Mann

The in-house choreography workshop performance was once a rare bird. Most members of concert-dance companies went from debut to retirement without calling a single shot. They’d spend year after year learning steps to dance onstage, but never dream up their own, coach or direct. There’s no downside to the fact that these series have become more common, in both classical and contemporary dance. There’s no shortcut to what you learn from being the one in charge.

Locally, Thodos Dance Chicago’s workshop is one of the oldest: This weekend’s shows, at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, mark the 12th year of “New Dances.” As you might expect, a night of choreography by young dancers — some trying their hand at the craft for the first or second time only — yields uneven results. But it’s always worth seeing, as are Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s similar “Inside/Out” annual, and “COLEctive Notions,” produced by the Dance COLEctive. For every shot in the dark, there’s a curveball; for every plainly derivative exercise, a new voice takes shape.

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Posted by: trailerpilot | 07:21::2012

Linkage | June 21–July 21, 2012

It’s hard to go through a full month’s worth of choice internet to collect some highlights for you but, folks, I’ve been busy. Keep an eye out for stories in upcoming issues of Dance InternationalPointeDance Spirit, Dance Magazine and more, and I hope you’ll join me August 24 at the Museum of Contemporary Art for “Chicago Now,” a free event of the 2012 Chicago Dancing Festival. Directors Lane Alexander (Chicago Human Rhythm Project), Ron De Jesús (Ron De Jesús Dance), Carrie Hanson (The Seldoms) and Julie Nakagawa (DanceWorks Chicago) will discuss the state of dancemaking in Chicago today, where it’s been and where it might go. Hanson’s and De Jesús’s groups and FootworKINGz will perform. (Full disclosure: I’m super excited about the evening.)

In addition, at 9am on July 25, you can join me at the Chicago Cultural Center for a Dance Community Convening organized by Audience Architects, to continue conversations begun at Dance/USA’s annual conference last month in San Francisco. Deeply Rooted Productions artistic director Kevin Iega Jeff, choreographer-director Shirley Mordine, meeting attendees and I will share our points of view on diversity and equity in Chicago dance. Amina Dickerson and Julia Perkins will moderate; please RSVP here.

Between work on these projects, I’ve continued to drop notes to self in my Gmail inbox for this series of aggregate posts. Among internet I filed away between the 21sts of this month and last are the following items of — to me, anyway — interest:

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Chicago’s all-free Chicago Dancing Festival made good on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s promise last summer to expand to six days for its sixth annual. August 20 through 25, five centrally located venues will host performances, film screenings and discussions, plus an outdoor dance party in partnership with Chicago SummerDance.

Sofiane Sylve Vito Mazzeo CONTINUUM photo Erik Tomasson

Sofiane Sylve and Vito Mazzeo of San Francisco Ballet in Continuum by choreographer Christopher Wheeldon. Photo: Erik Tomasson

As always, first to come will be first-served for Saturday night’s closing blowout, at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. Ditto the aforementioned “Dancing Under the Stars” event, Thursday evening in Grant Park; and Tuesday’s daylong run of dance films (including Wim Wenders’s Pina) at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

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Posted by: trailerpilot | 07:13::2012

Khecari at DCA Storefront Theater | Photo preview

One of the brightest lights in Chicago’s contemporary-dance scene is Khecari (“CATCHER-ee”), led by dancer-choreographers Julia Rae Antonick and Jonathan Meyer. (The two are a couple outside of the studio.) July 20 through 29 at the DCA Storefront Theater, Khecari presents a double feature of new work: The Clinking, Clanking Lowesleaf, a duet shown in-progress at Hamlin Park Fieldhouse last December; and Pales (PALL-ess”), an in-progress quartet by Meyer to premiere in full next season as Pales Real (“PALL-ess ray-ahl”).

Over coffees in the lobby of the Chicago Cultural Center on July 9, the two explained why this “leapfrog” schedule of creating dance works best for them. “We’re developing work through performance,” said Antonick. “We can take it to a point, but need to show it before we know where to go next.”

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