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.”
Pales enlists Meyer’s frequent collaborator Christopher Preissing for its score, to be performed by another quartet: musicians Andrea R. DiOrio, Mary Galime, William Jason Raynovich and Katherine Young. Lowesleaf continues the pair’s partnership with a solo composer-musician, Joseph St. Charles.
The double bill has been beset by obstacles during its creation. Staffing changes at the Storefront in April threw into question whether the company would have access to the manpower and resources it needs to realize Lowesleaf’s ambitious production elements (a Khecari trademark). A fire in May decommissioned one of its three spaces for rehearsals, the fieldhouse at Indian Boundary Park. St. Charles lost some of his one-of-a-kind musical instruments in the blaze. But Khecari soldiered on and, to judge by a short look at Pales after our chat, its show will go on uncompromised.
Khecari’s two other homes, Overdier Hall in Rogers Park and North Center’s Revere Park Fieldhouse, absorbed easily the dates and times the company was scheduled to meet at Indian Boundary, the couple explained. And in an eleventh hour, the Storefront’s Jim Moore was renewed as technical director at the venue. “We were lucky,” said Meyer.
It’s more earned fortune than luck that Pales’ cast features three of the freelance scene’s major talents: Edson Cabrera and Michel Rodriguez, regulars with Hedwig Dances; and Jessie Young, seen in April at Links Hall during “The Wrecking Project.” Pales costumes are by Grace Johnston under the guidance of German-born designer and former dancer Katrin Schnabl. Lighting for the run is by Jacob Snodgrass.
Chicago photographer Ryan Bourque, member of hot interdisciplinary creative consortium the Inconvenience, documented Khecari’s process extensively this spring and summer. The 16 images below are among approximately 8,000 he says he has on file of Khecari creating Pales and The Clinking, Clanking Lowesleaf. Click on any image to enter the gallery.
Khecari presents The Clinking, Clanking Lowesleaf and previews Pales July 20–29 at the DCA Storefront Theater, 66 E Randolph St in downtown Chicago. Admission is $25, low-income $15. This post was updated after publishing for clarity.