Community is important. When people pay attention to what community is, what it can be, and who it is exactly that they're talking about, it can also be a dynamic, inspiring, unpredictable wellspring of creativity. Especially in dance. The Big Muddy Dance Company is quite a community in and of itself, but in their performance on Saturday, January 26 at St. Louis' Grandel Theatre of their "Home Grown" program, Big Muddy is reaching out to an even wider community, and we wanted to hear more about it. We asked Artistic Director Brian Enos and Executive Director Erin Warner Prange about "Home Grown", and here's what they told us:
Dance is often an exploration of personal understanding. The wordless intensity of carefully designed movement offers a uniquely rich canvas for vision, and for innervision. This focused consciousness, this awareness of the complex interactions of personal understanding, infuses the entire process of dance. This vision, this exploration, is a continuous component of imagining movement, practicing movement, co-ordinating and performing the movement design we call choreography. On Friday, January 11 and on Saturday, January 12, cocodaco Dance Project will present a performance of three works, all choreographed by Artistic Director David Maurice, that display many of the different dimensions of this exploration of personal understanding. The program is entitled Statement Enclosed and the audiences at The North Shore Center For the Performing Arts will see three new works, Dope Diamond, Okinawa Beast, and a giddy whisper. We asked David about what he discovered and what he's created in making these three works, and here's what he told us:
Darryl Joseph is an independent producer with an intricately careful sense of how to put beats together. Originally from New York and now living in Chicago, his solo tracks are often sparse and electronic, and always elegantly designed. He's found himself more and more in demand as more and more people have heard his work, not only as a sought-after collaborator for vocalists, but also for choreographers. His gift for enthusiastic collaboration as much as for composition has led to recent projects with Stephanie Martinez, Christopher Huggins, Nick Pupillo, and now with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Choreographic Fellow Rena Butler. We asked Darryl about a lot of different things --- composing for dance, working with Rena Butler, what's up next for him, and more -- and here's what he told us.
Alessandra Corona Performing Works is the New York based company that Alessandra Corona founded in 2012, building on a widely successful performance career. That career included rigorous training in her native Italy, a dozen years as principal dancer with Ballet Hispanico, and a broad range of dance and theater accomplishments, and it continues with her performances as part of ACPW. "My goal is to make artistic works that integrate dance, music, theater, video and film arts," she writes at the Company's site. "My passion is to create art collaborating with high-level professional artists from different performing art disciplines." Manuel Vignoulle will premiere a new work called "W2! (Women Too!)" and we asked Manuel if he'd give us a little closer look at the work. Here's what he told us:
As an art form, dance on film is in its very early stages. Despite the visual enchantment of concert dance, there isn't yet any widespread understanding of how that enchantment can be shared with a wider audience in video and film. There are probably many skills, many ideas, many techniques yet to be discovered that will bring new dimensions to concert dance when it is presented in a visual recording, and in their film Augmented Organism, Jazmyne M. K. Geis and Cy Gorman not only explore, but master many those possibilities. Here are 4PHOTOS from Augmented Organism, with description and insights from Jazmyne Geis.
In the background, quiet and mostly unseen, there's an art that makes all of the other arts that we see in dance concerts possible. Dance concerts don't just happen; somebody has to present them, and doing so well is very much an art. But it's a complicated one, and it's even more complicated when you present dance and theater and music and fine art at the same venue. Moraine Valley Community College's Fine and Performing Arts Center has been doing that so well for so long that they're not only celebrating their 25th Anniversary this year, they're doing it with an even more imaginative and engaging series of presentations. One of the most imaginative is the Chicago Dance Crash performance on Saturday, November 17th at 7:30pm, and because of who Crash is, and how this all came together, it promises to be one of the most engaging as well. Tommy Hensel is the Managing Director of the Moraine Valley Fine and Performing Arts Center, and he's seen the last eleven years of the Center's accomplishments first hand. We asked Tommy to share with us some more of the impressive backstage story behind the front-of-house performance we'll be seeing on November 17th. Here's what he told us:
People often speak of 'the language of dance', perhaps because dance is capable of expressing thoughts and ideas in a way that is very different from the linear logic of spoken words. Manuel Vignoulle's work is emblematic of this, partly because his willingness to invest in careful thought and reflection is extraordinary, and partly because his ability to express that thought as movement design is so remarkable. Vignoulle's latest work is a trio entitle EARTH which he will be performing at The Dance Gallery Festival NYC on November 3rd and 4th, and then at The McCallum Theatre Choreography Festival on November 10th. In it, Vignoulle creates a unique and special language in dance, inspired by some exceptionally careful reflection on a complex subject -- the interaction and connection and mutual involvement each of us experiences with others. We asked Manuel to give us some more insight into his thoughts, and to the beautiful way he expresses them in EARTH. Here's what he told us:
Collaboration is inevitably a form of exploration, and it often turns out that those artists who are most open to exploring the shared creativity of collaboration are also the boldest in their search for other kinds of creative exploration. Jan Bartoszek's career has been a master class in this principle. Dance, of course, is almost always a complex cooperation between choreographer, dancers, designers and many others, but Bartoszek has made such creative cooperation both a priority and an art in her work, often in innovative and boundary-defying ways. When Hedwig Dances present's Bartoszek's newest work Futura on November 1st through 3rd, the audiences at The Dance Center of Columbia College will get to see a multi-dimensional example of how she does this, and of how rich the results can be. We asked Jan to tell us more about the revolutionary ideas of Bauhaus, its influence on so much of what we know today, and how she and her collaborators imagined Futura. Here's what she told us:
A lot of different ideas can inspire choreography, and when designed by a great choreographer, dance can express all kinds of thoughts and concepts and emotions. But when it comes to creating a full-evening work, the idea behind the ballet has to be rich enough, embracing enough, to keep an audience leaning forward for a full evening. For their November 16th and 17th performances at St. Louis' Edison Theatre, The Big Muddy Dance Company has found an exceptionally rich subject for their full-evening presentation of Lemp Legends: A Ghost Story. The work is a dynamic collaboration between Enos and six other choreographers, all company members with Big Muddy, and in researching and creating the story of St. Louis' famous Lemp family, they found the story to be even more intriguing that they had originally imagined. We asked Brian to let is in on more of the story behind this project, and the multi-layered process that led to its accomplishment, and here's what he told us:
"Dance matters. Dance is integral to our collective cultures. It is a core human expression that transforms us, generates wonder, and furthers honest connection and understanding." That would be a great beginning for just about anything that has anything to do with dance. It's the first of the Core Beliefs that you find if you read about Chicago Dancemakers Forum at their site ChicagoDancemakers.org, so it's a great beginning to understanding what this unique organization does, and more importantly, what they keep succeeding in doing. We asked Chicago Dancemakers Forum Executive Director Ginger Farley to let us in on some more of this very encouraging, fifteen-year-long story, and especially about Elevate Chicago Dance, their all-day performance celebration October 21st at The Chicago Cultural Center. Here's what she told us: