Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time researching, writing about dance and throwing my two cents around on a whole host of subjects. Let the record show, however, that it’s not all armchair critique around here: I’m still very much involved in the making of dance, and as a matter of fact will trot out a new trio this very next weekend. Self-promotion is frowned upon by my employers at Windy City Media Group and Flavorpill but, hey: Nobody here can stop me from telling you to get your ass down to Epiphany for the NEXT concert, produced by Mordine & Co. and happening Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
First, let me run down the list of phenomenal peeps with whom I’m honored to share the bill:
- Current CDF Lab Artist Grant recipient and AD of Khecari Jonathan Meyer will dance in a solo work. I gushed about the direction his work is taking in one of my first blog posts—if you missed him then, catch him now.
- Lisa Gonzales and Darrell Jones are two of this city’s bona fide gems and, with the unfortunate cancellation of Peter Carpenter’s premiere (he’s on the mend and getting ready for a big show of his own), are now involved with NEXT, bringing their by-all-accounts-incredible duet Traitor I (stupidly) missed at ODF last fall.
- Julia Rae Antonick is no joke and, along with myself, will present a new work commissioned by Mo & Co as part of the Emerging Artist Mentoring Project Award. Her duet is titled Loose Legged Wing Dividers and uses stillness—the evening’s theme—as a constraint through which she’s developed a movement vocabulary. We’ve managed not to see any of each others’ work in process, but I can tell you that A.) I’m very excited about it and B.) her portfolio speaks for itself.
- Company namesake Shirley Mordine is collaborating with two artists on separate works: Sahridaya is a recent duet co-choreographed by Natya Dance Theatre AD Hema Rajagopalan and pleases me thusly: There is no ill-considered attempt to take Mordine’s modern dance vocabulary and mash it up with Rajagopalan’s Bharatanatyam technique. They remain uncompromised, and the dialogue between the two pure forms is—as always—far more engaging than some slipshod Frankenform confusing homogeneity with a post-cultural Shangri-La. She’s also teaming up once again with video-for-performance maestro John Boesche for a beautiful duet between Meghann Wilkinson and Molly Perez entitled New Ground, which neatly displays the weapons-grade talent of everyone involved.
I had a helluva time figuring out how to approach Shirley’s instruction that I make a dance about stillness: Analytical as I (obviously) am, I just couldn’t get past the conflict between it being this simple, universally-understood concept and at the same time completely illusory. Out of this impasse comes Dancing about stillness is like writing about, a trio for Charles Cutler, Emma Draves and Elizabeth Jenkins that, like that missing last word, is inconclusiveness cropped out and zoomed in on. My dancers have done incredible work in an amazingly short creation process and, regardless of what anyone else ends up thinking about it, I love the piece and its strange spaces of tenderness, dismissiveness and hostility.
Shirley observed in an early rehearsal that it’s subtly coded, like social protocol in a royal court—I agreed, took her note and ran with it. In some ways it’s a return to some of the first pieces I made, Ground won and WON TWO OWN in workshops with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Back then (’03 and ’04) I was blathering a lot about what happens when you take a gestural signifier (a thumbs-up, a hand cupped around the ear) and place it alongside other information (a middle finger, an index “shushing” over the lips) that cancels it out. I moved onto other things in later choreographies but never until now returned to these ideas about taking body language, maximizing its clarity and communicativeness, then sequencing the images in a way that forces a choice: Either the narrative makes no sense or the images have come to mean something new. Brushed up alongside the usual low-level anxiety about sharing my work, I can’t wait to hear peoples’ reactions to and interpretations of it—especially yours, so get a ticket! Paying full price ($15 advance, $20 at the door) is always appreciated, but it bears mentioning there’s no need to: There are $5 coupons at See Chicago Dance, texting “Mordine” to 30364 gets you a reply that’s a 2-for-one coupon (green!) AND Time Out is holding a drawing for a free pair on Tuesday. Just don’t tell me you can’t make one of three shows. The space is gorgeous, there’s plenty of free wine to lubricate your watching and there’s a crazy-diverse, fascinating program of outstanding dance. Hop to it!