4PHOTOS: Chicago Dance Crash Cofounder Charlie Cutler and the Dancers of Past and Future Fusion
Charlie Cutler has been a dancer the whole time. He sent us a list of his varied titles at Crash (Co-founder of Chicago Dance Crash, Special Projects Manager, Vice President of the Board of Directors, Wearer of Hats, and Touring Manager), but he’s been a dancer, in every sense, the whole time.
If you ride with us much, you’ve heard this before — there’s a large scale choreography in the art of being an independent dance company. All the design that goes into the movements of dancers, the art called choreography, is reflected on a broader scale in the design of a dance company. So it’s not a bit surprising that the forward-leaning, always-engaging and often-upstaging arts of Chicago Dance Crash reflect the irreverent but insight-rich artistry of the company’s founders, and we’ve got one of them here with us to look at 4PHOTOS.
Charlie Cutler has been a dancer the whole time. He sent us a list of his varied titles at Crash (Co-founder of Chicago Dance Crash, Special Projects Manager, Vice President of the Board of Directors, Wearer of Hats, and Touring Manager), but he’s been a dancer, in every sense, the whole time. Charlie Cutler is emblematic of many of the secret ingredients in the Crash recipe. Like the Company he cofounded, he knows the art from the inside, but can always see it clearly from the outside. That way, the road stays open in both directions. A fifteen year progression of careful, thoughtful artists have found a place to imagine in detail, and create in multi-dimensions. For those same fifteen years, audiences have found a place to see what those artists created in a context that never forgets what it looks like and feels like from the audience.
Here are 4PHOTOS from the past and future story of Chicago Dance Crash, with all the words from now on by Charlie Cutler —-
Mark and Charlie after Crash’s first ever Chicago show at The Mary-Arrchie Theatre, (R.I.P.). This photo makes me laugh. The hand gesture was one that we picked up from John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China. The film is best described as a fantasy martial arts comedy. We threw this gesture around so often that you’d have thought the movie was released that summer, and not in 1986. In retrospect, I see how and why we were so drawn to the film.
It’s full of BIG ideas/themes, bold and athletic moves, strong personalities and storytelling. Above all else, it is accessible. The film has broad reach because it doesn’t take itself too seriously and tries to entertain above all else. To me, that sounds a lot like The Dance Crash. Even back then, I like to think that we had a deep understanding of what we wanted Crash to be…
Gotham was a masterful mixing of styles, sweat, storytelling, and imagination that played out week after week at the Store Front Theatre downtown. To date, it is still some of Mark Hackman’s finest writing.
I had to type that in caps because it was just that EPIC. A six week, eighteen show run?! Who does that in the dance world?
Well, we sure as hell did, and it was for our ten year anniversary season! Many can accuse me of labeling specific casts over the years as being “The Best, The Dream Team, The Most Talented Ever, etc.” It’s true….it just happened again with The Bricklayers of Oz…but the cast of Gotham….whew (audible sigh)…they were something to talk about:
Paul Christiano, Chantelle Mrowka, Daniel Gibson, Mary Tarpley, David Ingram, and Brian Humphreys just to name a few. That show defined ensemble acting/performance!
Gotham was a masterful mixing of styles, sweat, storytelling, and imagination that played out week after week at the Store Front Theatre downtown. To date, it is still some of Mark Hackman’s finest writing. Perhaps, more remarkable than Mark’s vision was how Jessica Deahr was able to take those words and make them come alive onstage. That task would be repeated in time with Tron End of Line and The Bricklayers of Oz, but Gotham…that was her trial by fire. Jess not only knew every step of that entire show, but proved it one evening when a soloist took sick minutes before curtain. Jess threw on the dancer’s wig and costume and took the stage like a Boss, which shortly after Gotham she would become…
Jessica Deahr, Artistic Director.
What Jess accomplished was a marvel and it gave Crash a newfound street cred nearly over night. The fact that she actualized Gotham without losing her mind, let alone her cool, is extraordinary.
During the Gotham City run, it was decided that Jess would take over as Artistic Director of the company. At the time, Gotham was our biggest success to date and she was intrinsic to that outcome.
Amendment: Bricklayers of Oz now holds this title. Cast of BOZ, y’all are my current Dream Team so if you’re reading this, don’t be offended.
What Jess accomplished was a marvel and it gave Crash a newfound street cred nearly over night. The fact that she actualized Gotham without losing her mind, let alone her cool, is extraordinary. To date, I have yet to see her lose her cool or abuse any one of the army of artists that she has worked with since taking over in 2012.
Time and age provide perspective not possessed by earlier versions of oneself. When Mark, Marissa, and I moved to Chicago to pursue this dream, we had an abundance of ambition, self confidence, trust in each other, and dash of naivete. I don’t know that we knew where Crash was headed….
As my own dancing days draw to and end, I think about something that Mark wrote in his own article for Dancer Music. To paraphrase, he said that his greatest legacy in the dance world is the of hiring Jess. I agree with him. It’s funny because we’ve never had that conversation out loud. I read his article and thought, “huh, same for me.” I’ll do any thing I can to support her.
2012 was a Sea Change for Crash. Jessica Deahr was the catalyst for that change.
Who knew putting a woman in charge would change things so drastically for the better?
These dancers are the future of not just Crash, but fusion based dance technique in general.
The new Dream Team. These dancers are the future of not just Crash, but fusion based dance technique in general. They can do it all, and proved as much in The Bricklayers of Oz this summer. If you missed the show, keep your eyes peeled. It will return…
In the meantime, come help Crash celebrate turning 15 this Saturday night at 8 p.m., Athanaeum Theatre.
—- Charlie Cutler
PHOTOS: (from top) • Charlie Cutler, Jessica Deahr and Mark Hackman (Photo courtesy of Charlie Cutler) • Charlie Cutler and Mark Hackman September 2002 (Photo by Garry Cutler) • Paul Christiano, Daniel Gibson, Charlie Cutler, Mary Tarpley, Chantelle Mrowka, David Ingram in Chicago Dance Crash’s Gotham City (Photo by Emily Coughlin • Jessica Deahr (Photo by Charlie Cutler) • Chicago Dance Crash in “The Bricklayers of Oz” (Photo by Benjamin Licera)
Chicago Dance Crash will present Crash Year 15 at Chicago’s Athenaeum Theatre on Saturday, November 18 at 8pm. Tickets are available at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Avenue, Chicago 60657, by phone at 773 935-6875, or online from the Athenaeum. And for more about the show check out DancerMusic’s PRE-View and our 4PHOTOS (Really 5): Chicago Dance Crash’s Mark Hackman and Crash Year 15.