This year, Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre celebrates its 20th anniversary season. Every dance company dreams of celebrating such a milestone, so what is the secret to the success? It might have something to do with the incredible blend of live dance and music that the company continues to curate, but more likely it is the passionate and consistent commitment to their artistic mission that co-founders Wilfredo Rivera and Joe Cerqua demonstrate year after year. Despite the challenges of building and maintaining an audience, procuring funding, and pushing the boundaries of both music and dance, CRDT has nourished the creative talents
The person that you are is a sum of all your experiences - good, bad, ugly and everything in between. If you happen to be Deeply Rooted Dance Theater Co-Founder and Associate Artistic Director Gary Abbott, then those experiences also inform the choreographic works that have and continue to receive praise from critics and audiences alike. What does all of this experience have to do with Gary's latest choreographic work, "Parallel Lives," for Deeply Rooted Dance Theater? Well, when we got to talking with Gary, it seems that he had been collecting the pieces of this creative puzzle for some time without realizing what the final picture would be. From deep within his past came the memories of an upbringing in a house of strong women. From his experience choreographing for theater and from his mentors, a deeper understanding of how to use drama and staging effectively to convey his ideas. And from teaching at the university, an unexpected connection with the ballet class pianist that would lead to an original score for the piece. DancerMusic's Kristi Licera caught up with Gary to see how all of these pieces came together to form "Parallel Lives" and to learn more about what's on the program for An Inspired Past, A Jubilant Future. Here's what Gary told us:
One of the last things you would expect to experience during a contemporary dance concert at a prestigious theater is Lil Wayne's hottest new single, bass bumping over the speakers, as some of the world's finest dance artists take the stage. Well, that is only part of what you are in for if you can make it to the Harris Theater for Music and Dance December 6, 8, or 9 in Chicago for the world premiere of Rena Butler's latest choreographic work for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, "III.Third." Rena and the dancers of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago use "III.Third" to examine identity through culture and customs, using references to popular urban culture. DancerMusic's Kristi Licera caught up with Rena during the final week of rehearsal for III.Third to learn more. Here's what Rena 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.
Cerqua Rivera Dance Theater has been on a relentless build-up to their 2018 Fall Concert Series since last April. It's something they've been doing for years, a very carefully planned series of monthly presentations -- they call them Inside / Out --- that bring their audience, their performers, and the creators of their upcoming works together. The settings are informal but the results always informative, an engaging blend of discussion and performance. The last of the 2018 Inside / Out series takes place on Thursday, September 20th at 7pm at Chicago's Fine Arts Building, and it promises to be a great one. The subject is a new work called The Process Takes a Lifetime, an exceptionally rich and well-thought out story by choreographer Joshua Ishmon and --- in keeping with Cerqua Rivera's trademark practice of pairing great choreographers with great composers --- an original score by Pharez Whitted. Of course DancerMusic wanted to find out more, so we asked Joshua Ishmon if he would give us some insight into The Process Takes a Lifetime. Here's what he told us:
'Accomplished' is one way that you can describe classical pianist Joyce Yang, and another way that you can describe her is 'widely acclaimed', but there's something you'll want to keep in mind about both of those terms. When you apply them to Joyce Yang, they describe a process more than a picture, because Joyce Yang accomplishes so much, so often, that she gets more widely acclaimed all the time. This year, for example, she and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet have been very widely acclaimed (including by a number of sold-out audiences) for their performances of ASFB's An Evening With Joyce Yang. It's a program of three ballets in which Yang performs live on stage with Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, and they will be performing it at The Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe on September 1st. One of Yang's less well-known accomplishments is a beautifully composed article that she wrote entitled "Music and Movement", in which she shares a vivid series of insights into the mysterious interaction of dance and music, insights that she discovered and explored in the process of working with ASFB and Elo. "Music and Movement" first appeared at pianistjoyceyang.com, and now, Joyce Yang has generously allowed DancerMusic to reprint it here in its entirety. Here it is, don't miss it.
Forget for a moment that Aspen Santa Fe Ballet is an extraordinary artistic organization. It's a subject worth talking about, and we'll probably return to it more than once in other stories, but just for the moment, as difficult as it may be, just try to forget that. Or rather (especially since it's nearly impossible to forget), let's start from there and move on. Because in "An Evening With Joyce Yang", Aspen Santa Fe Ballet shows that they're actually something even more remarkable. ASFB is a study in exactly how to be an extraordinary artistic organization. In "An Evening With Joyce Yang", which ASFB will present at The Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe (September 1st at 8pm), Yang will perform live on stage with ASFB, as they perform "Half/Cut/Split" by noted Finnish choreographer Jorma Elo (who collaborated with Yang to bring Robert Schumann’s Carnaval to life), Jiří Kylián’s seminal "Return to a Strange Land", and Nicolo Fonte’s touching "Where We Left Off". That's just part of the start of the story, though. To find out more we reached out to Jessica Moore, ASFB Director of Marketing, to give us a closer look at this extraordinary program. Here's what she told us:
Let's paint a picture of Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre's Inside/Out: Ameican Catracho. In the foreground of the picture is Cerqua Rivera's performance on Wednesday, June 20th at 7pm, at Evanston's beautiful new dance and music venue Studio5. There Artistic Director Wilfredo Rivera, CRDT Co-founder Joe Cerqua, and other participants in the creative process will offer a look into the making of American Catracho, the large-scale work that Rivera launched in 2016, and which will be completed this year. American Catracho explores the experience of immigrants and refugees who, like Rivera himself, venture to leave what they know to find a new life in a new land. It's been a major, three year project for the Company, and although there's a lot in the foreground, there's even more in the background. Taken all together, it turns the whole picture into a kind of magic painting, because each time you look closely at what is in the background, what you see in the foreground will change. Knowing that, we asked Noelle Kayser to give us even more background on the process of making American Catracho, and here's what she told us.
This March, the Evanston Dance Ensemble will premiere its completely reimagined production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. In six performances over four days (March 15-16 at 7pm and March 17-18 at 1pm and 4pm) audiences at The Josephine Louis Theater will get to see Shakespeare's widely loved romantic comedy in a brand new light. We asked Evanston Dance Ensemble's Béa Rashid to tell us just a little more about this complex creative adventure, beginning with how she even got such a bold idea. Here's what Béa told us:
Choreographer and Artistic Director of Ballet 5:8, Julianna Slager, has spent years meticulously researching and fine-tuning her choreography in preparation for 'Scarlet' to return to the stage this February at the Hemmens Cultural Center in Elgin, IL. DancerMusic's Kristi Licera sat down with Julianna to learn more about her research, creative process, and the importance of taking time to edit an artistic work: