coLast week, Project Bound Dance presented ‘Imprint’, an evening of dance, voice, and music which took a look at self-worth and the meaning and power of our footprints. After experiencing ‘Imprint’, I left Hamlin Park Field House Theater with an appreciation for the Bound artists and the collaborative work they continue to produce. Original spoken word pieces and effective staging and costume design were standout elements of the evening. If you had the pleasure of being in one of the two ‘Imprint’ audiences, join me as I RE-View these thoughtful and polished artists. Otherwise, enjoy your first glimpse!
The One Hour Project
The evening opened with a presentation of Bound’s collaborative dance for camera series, ‘The One Hour Project’, now in its third season of production. The seven selected works showcased Bound’s dancers paired with a choreographer and videographer. This “exercise in concision” gave collaborators just 60 minutes to create a 60 second video. After the show, I caught up with Sarah Baker (Inaside Dance Chicago), who choreographed for the project. I was particularly intrigued by the editing on Sarah’s baseball themed video, edited by Bound’s Co-Artistic Director, Ashley Deran. With the amount of takes, angles, and cuts included in the 60 seconds of footage, I was curious to know if the one hour included the video editing process. Sarah let me know that the 60 minutes was for creating movement and determining shots, with just 60 additional minutes for the videographer to edit. Opening the evening with ‘The One Hour Project’ set the stage for the evening of collaborative work to follow.
Part 1 of ‘Imprint’ was presented in three sections. As the lights came up for the “Prologue”, shoes in various styles – sneakers, boots, flats, heels – lined the downstage edge, literally at the feet of the audience members in the front row. Each of the artists was dressed in pedestrian clothing, as though you could have just as easily seen them casually walking down the street on their way to work. Vocalist Jazelle Morriss’s uninhibited voice rang through the space, and the dancers consumed and translated her words into small hand gestures and sweeping movements of the legs and arms.
Vocalist Jazelle Morriss’s uninhibited voice rang through the space, and the dancers consumed and translated her words into small hand gestures and sweeping movements of the legs and arms.
Jazelle addressed the audience, asking them to consider if and how their shoes and appearance defined them. She touched on the discomfort of a high heel (preach, girl!) and the comfort you can find in a pair of sneakers. The Prologue ended with Jazelle asking the audience, “What if you could carry that comfort around with you?”. In the brief moment in which the lights went out between scenes, I contemplated the things that I keep in my own closet, and why I chose to wear my worn out blazer and high-top sneakers that evening. But before I could finish pondering, the lights came up on four dancers, dressed in their own blazers and combat boots, whose expressions and determination told me they were ready for a fight.
The second section of Part 1, titled “Lace”, featured dancers in combat boots and blazers. The stage at Hamlin Park Field House Theater is roughly twice as deep as it is wide, and between the attack in their movement and laser sharp focus, the four dancers in “Lace” filled every inch of it. As I watched the dancers travel and hinge backwards on sharp, expansive diagonal lines, I wondered, why call this section “Lace”? The very word conjures images of elegance (and doilies), and maybe that was the point – to provide contrast between what women are expected to wear and how they are supposed to act in that attire. Generally, women are expected to ‘be lace’ – soft, beautiful, and elegant, and in my own life I have seen the surprise on the faces of my peers when they discover my edgier, more masculine side.
Ashley is an accomplished and saught after photographer and videographer, and I saw the immense talent she has in visual composition demonstrated consistently throughout the evening.
“Sneak” closed Part 1 and featured four of Bound’s dance artists in sneakers and simple black clothing. I could see traces of inspiration from common sports forms, like a runner waiting to blast out of the blocks to hand signals from football. The linear nature of staging also added to the athletic feel and help differentiate the movement motifs. I spoke to Ashley Deran post-show, and told her that I could see her skill as a visual artist reflected in the visual impact of her staging. Ashley is an accomplished and saught after photographer and videographer, and I saw the immense talent she has in visual composition demonstrated consistently throughout the evening.
To open Part 2 of ‘Imprint’, soft, warm lights surrounded Jazelle Morris on an empty stage as she sang an a capella rendition of “So… That’s Love”. I closed my eyes for a brief moment to listen to her sweet, intimate song, and it felt as though I could see Jazelle sitting by her bedroom window at twilight, singing a lullaby to a distant loved one. Her song was framed by vignettes of individual dancers – first was Co-Artistic Director Ericka Vaughn, who walked into the center stage pool of light to a pair of white ballet-style flats. Every so simply, she slipped on her shoes, sat cross-legged in the pool of light, closed her eyes, and took a few deep breaths. Almost instantly, I had a memory of my own mother, taking a moment to herself between raising myself and three siblings, taking those same, exhausted breaths.
I closed my eyes for a brief moment to listen to her sweet, intimate song, and it felt as though I could see Jazelle sitting by her bedroom window at twilight, singing a lullaby to a distant loved one.
As the famous first notes of Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman” began to play, the dancers entered the stage wearing cream colored slip dresses and men’s shoes that were many sizes too big. The dancers marched single file in different paths across the stage, emulating the busy crosswalks of a corporate city bustling with early morning foot traffic. As the piece progressed, individual dancers began to cat call the audience, shouting pick-up lines in masculine voices. These pick-up lines would be delivered in a much more aggressive manner by Kathryn Hetrick, whose creeping walks towards the audience and escalating intensity of her delivery showcased theatrical talent.
Jazelle returned to the stage alone, this time in bare feet and a cream dress to match those the dancers appeared in during Part 3. Her monologue spoke of her own experiences as an artist and mother and the constant balancing act she plays between the two. This was the first time the audience had seen a bare foot on stage, and as her toes explored the floor, she reflected on the prints her feet leave behind for her children to follow in.
The evening closed with all of the Bound dancers joining Jazelle on stage for one last union of voice and movement. The artists moved with new found freedom, repeating the motifs they established in the beginning of the evening with a freshness mirrored by the simplicity of their costuming. As the performance began to come to a close, the artists formed a line at the front edge of the stage, just as they had done in the opening of the show. The visual contrast between the two instances stood as a symbol of their journey and yet another example of the successful visual composition and direction of the work.
The visual contrast between the two instances stood as a symbol of their journey and yet another example of the successful visual composition and direction of the work.
As the theater began to empty out, I heard the young woman sitting behind me exclaim, “Man, that monologue had me inspired!”. I couldn’t help but agree. I was inspired to take some time and reflect on the curiosities that ‘Imprint’ conjured: how important do I consider my physical appearance vs. my inner self? How does my physical appearance affect my personality? What do I even have in my closet?! Needless to say, I look forward to seeing more from Project Bound Dance (…and cleaning out my closet).
For more from Project Bound Dance, visit www.projectbounddance.com.
Photographs by Michelle Reid