Posted by: trailerpilot | 05:26::2012

“The Wrecking Project” | Postmortem

A mini festival played Wrigleyville performance venue Links Hall April 12 through 14. Inspired by writer-dancemaker Susan Rethorst’s concept of “wrecking” choreography, nine female artists each presented two works: her own, and the “wrecked” remix of what another in the group made.

Man in the City photo Ryan Bourque 1

Samantha Allen in Man in the City by Julie Mayo. Photo: Ryan Bourque

I’d be hard-pressed to dream up a more efficient way to get to know choreographers. (Two out of three featured at the performance I attended, Christy Funsch and Colleen Leonardi, were new to me.) Time was the only constraint coproducers Kate Corby and Julie Mayo gave the participants; originals and wrecks both had to last 15 minutes or less, and most of the wrecking processes took place within just a couple of days. So during each of three performances, within about 90 minutes, one could see an artist’s work and then that same work again, through the eyes of a different artist, whose original choreography was also shown. Links Hall was a data-rich environment, to say the least.

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Posted by: trailerpilot | 05:25::2012

Kevin Depinet | Interview

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Covers in pop music — especially ironic ones — are a dime a dozen, but in theater décor? That’s not an everyday occurrence, as far as I’m aware.

So when I read the program for the Goodman Theatre’s current production of Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh, starring Brian Dennehy as Larry Slade and Nathan Lane as Theodore Hickman, the following credits caught my eye: set design by Kevin Depinet, inspired by designs by John Conklin.

In 1990, the Goodman produced Iceman with Dennehy in the “Hickey” role. Conklin created the décor with Robert Falls, director of both versions.

I had questions. What follows is my conversation by phone with Depinet on May 16.


Each act’s set is a variation on a theme, I thought: They all fit together as a…well, as a “set,” themselves, but there’s a great progression from Act I to Act IV. And this is coupled with elegant references to art history. The opening scene is reminiscent of Rembrandt, with the strong chiaroscuro, and we also get whiffs of The Last Supper and other well-known works of art. How much of all of this came from the previous designs by John Conklin, and to what extent did you introduce your ideas to this production? That’s, of course, about ten questions in one, but what I want to discuss with you today, in a nutshell.
[Laughs] Well, let’s start with the idea of the four different sets. In terms of how Bob [Falls] and I worked, because there was a previous set and because he wanted to use the guise of the original production, one of [John Conklin’s] design’s major ideas was these four points of view [onto the bar]. That production being at the old Goodman, which was a different space entirely… You could literally have four sets and wheel them in as you needed them, you know? One might be offstage right, [another] offstage left, and then upstage, and you could just wheel the whole sets in [as the show progressed]. In the new Goodman, you can’t do that, so one of my biggest challenges was figuring out how to make it work, within itself. There isn’t that [offstage] space to put everything. So the original production [had] basically these four separate ideas that were trucked on, and this was more a morphing, sort of onion-skin, layered thing that unfolded, with the [bar]room getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

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There are great paintings in the Roy Lichtenstein exhibition that opened this week at the Art Institute of Chicago. There are iconic paintings, too, and lots of overlap between those two categories. The time is right for a retrospective of work by the famous American Pop artist: Among countless other examples, Lichtenstein’s continued influence appears in new paintings by Anna Elise Johnson, on display May 9–12 at the University of Chicago’s new Logan Center for the Arts.

Camp David, November 15, 1986, Reagan - Thatcher photo Anna Elise Johnson

Anna Elise Johnson, Camp David, November 15, 1986, Reagan / Thatcher, 2011. Oil on canvas. Image courtesy of the artist.

Gerhard Richter, more than Lichtenstein, was on Johnson’s mind while she painted deinterlaced, close crops of political speeches and summits between 1981 and 2011. But “a lot of people brought up Lichtenstein in my critiques,” Johnson tells me by phone, and there’s no doubt that her rendering of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan’s legs at Camp David, for example, has much in common with Lichtenstein’s black-and-white portrait of a car tire. “One can almost smell the rubber in this picture,” says exhibition cocurator James Rondeau of Tire (1962) during the audio guide for “Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective.” Likewise, one can almost hear Thatcher and Reagan’s shoes hitting the pavement in Johnson’s Camp David, November 15, 1986, Reagan / Thatcher (2011).

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A Crack In Everything zoe juniper photo Gia Goodrich

zoe | juniper, A Crack In Everything. Photo: Gia Goodrich

Diversities of all kinds are in the South Loop between September 13, 2012 and April 6, 2013. The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago’s next season lineup, which includes per usual a variety of related discussions, master classes and family matinees, features for example an intersection between Butoh, African dance and architecture; and the beginnings of a Grotowski-influenced physical theater cycle inspired by Marc Chagall. Single tickets and subscriptions are available starting July 9.

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FootworKINGz photo Brazilionaire

FootworKINGz, from left: Trevell Johnson, Charles “King Charles” Parks and Ukemosay Sanders. Photo: Brazilionaire

Two concerts in the past week brought ten dance ensembles together. Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s “Windy City Rhythms” gave the city a head-start on National Tap Dance Day (May 25); and DanceWorks Chicago and Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago shared a stage at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie.

The scale of the two programs and their collaborative natures introduced some pacing issues and minor hiccups. But overall, these were strong examples of arts partnership and cultural exchange. “Windy City Rhythms,” which I attended May 11 at the DuSable Museum of African American History, gave an enthusiastic crowd including many kids a whirlwind tour of percussive dance and hip-hop, genially emceed by CHRP artistic director Lane Alexander. FootworKINGz, M.A.D.D. Rhythms and CHRP group BAM! all performed twice during two acts. Ayrie “Mr. Taps” King, Boom Crack! Dance Company, Martin “Tre” Dumas III and the Bronzeville Lighthouse Charter School Tap Ensemble presented one piece each. While the last and Boom Crack!, plus the “BBF Crew” from M.A.D.D. Rhythms West were all recitalish to some degree — one girl shuffled onstage late — I enjoyed seeing young dancers perform alongside seasoned professionals. No doubt the kids learned a thing or two from the experience to boot.

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Posted by: trailerpilot | 05:15::2012

First Position | Film review

Joan Sebastian Zamora in FIRST POSITION

Dancer Joan Sebastian Zamora in First Position. Photo: Bess Kargman / Sundance Selects

As good a corrective as you’ll find to notions about dance training perpetuated by Lifetime TV series Dance Moms, First Position is a clear-eyed, fair look at aspiring professionals who understand what “professional” means. Granted, this new documentary from Bess Kargman — a journalist who hung up her practice slippers at age 14 — focuses on the Youth America Grand Prix, a competition for serious ballet students mostly above the overtly sexualized and sequined fray of the Dolly Dinkle.

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Posted by: trailerpilot | 05:14::2012

EA&AE: ENTOMO | Review

ENTOMO photo David Vega

Elías Aguirre, left, and Álvaro Esteban of EA&AE in ENTOMO. Photo: David Vega / Objetivo Producir

At a casual, one-time performance at 2pm on May 6, Spanish duo EA&AE performed ENTOMO for about 25 people. The Chicago debut followed Victor Alexander’s rigorous, intelligent men’s trio Line of Sighs and Hide, My Red-Eyed Beauty, a mixed-gender trio from the Humans far more engaging in performance gallery DEFIBRILLATOR than where I last saw it, Hamlin Park Fieldhouse Theater. (There are details in the latter work, such as director-choreographer Rachel Bunting’s automatonic, ventriloquist’s-dummy jaw movements, that are too easily missed in a black-box presentation.)

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Posted by: trailerpilot | 05:14::2012

Linkage | May 7–13, 2012

Here are the internets I found interesting during the past week, sorted by source and teased by pullquote:

From twitpic: “It was the first movie I acted in, if you don’t count being killed in the Kung-Fu movie ‘Ninja Turf.’ Love is more important than material possessions.” | From imgur via Reddit: “Man drills magnets into arm to mount ipod” | From Matt Richardson dot com: “Modern digital cameras capture gobs of parsable metadata about photos such as the camera’s settings, the location of the photo, the date, and time, but they don’t output any information about the content of the photo. The Descriptive Camera only outputs the metadata about the content.” | From The Atlantic Wire: “According to Germany’s Der SpiegelGerman police shot only 85 bullets in all of 2011.” | From hashtag battle dot com: #love vs. #hate | From Guerrilla Semiotics: “The main difference between this Berlin audience and, say, the Melbourne audience which might never walk out of a boring performance, but will check phones like nobody’s business, is not that one is rude and the other not…but that one engages, and the other disengages from the social, communal nature of the encounter.” | From WJXT-TV via MSNBC: “They feature a hoodie with crosshairs aimed at the chest. A bag of Skittles is tucked in the pocket and a hand is holding a can resembling iced tea.”

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Posted by: trailerpilot | 05:09::2012

Four hunnerd.

This blog is 400 posts old as of this you’re reading right here. (It’s been 175 weeks since my first post, for the record.)

Now, I ain’t tryna be precious about it, I’m just sayin’. Let’s round up ten posts you dear readers have particularly liked, or hated, or whatever — clicked on a lot — and then it’s back to work for the both of us.

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Posted by: trailerpilot | 05:07::2012

Linkage | April 9–May 6, 2012

It’s been nearly a month since the last Linkage post, so this is a big one. Without further ado, here are the more interesting links I emailed to myself between April 9 and May 6, 2012:

“Why limit standard crediting practice to the visibility of a face,” asks Sarah Maxfield in her post “Worth Noting” for The Performance Club, “when dance as a medium is about the body as a whole?” Maxfield asserts that “the [photo] caption is just a small symptom of a much larger cultural dismissal of the body and those who have expertise in body-related work,” which is absolutely correct.

There will be “a bloodbath of nonprofit failures,” warns Brooklyn Philharmonic CEO Richard Dare, “unless we undertake fundamental structural reform of the nonprofit business model itself.”

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