When you think of "Gaga," the first thing to come to mind probably isn't dance. In fact, it probably reminds you more of a sound that you made when you were an infant and less of the movement language that has become a phenomenon in the concert dance world. Originally developed by choreographic phenomenon Ohad Naharin for his works with Batsheva Dance Company in Tel Aviv, Israel, this form of movement discovery and exploration has taken the dance world by storm. For many dancers, it's reminiscent of Isadora Duncan discovering modern dance. There was something so pure, so human about
What do you want to do with your life? It is a question we are asked time and time again through our childhood and at every pivotal turn in our lives. While there are many answers to the question, some of us are able to give a response that creates a vision of the future for others. Those special individuals are the ones with limitless dreams, who carry the will and determination to see those dreams through, and whose hearts bear the passion to inspire others. That is the kind of person that Vershawn Sanders-Ward is. It is clear that Vershawn’s vision of the future is limitless, her passion infectious, and her dedication as solid as her unwavering work ethic. All of this has spread beyond the studio and stage in Chicago and most recently brought Red Clay Dance Company artists to Kampala, Uganda for the “TransAtlantic Project.” This journey to Africa marked RCDC’s first international collaboration with Keiga Dance Company, and if the world premiere of their collaborative work this past November was just the beginning of what’s to come, it is more dazzling proof of Vershawn’s ability to continue to dream big and achieve something even bigger. DancerMusic’s Kristi Licera recently caught up with Vershawn to get an inside look at the product of Red Clay’s first collaboration with Keiga Dance Company, “EKILI MUNDA | What Lies Within.” Here’s what Vershawn told us:
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.
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.
"Who looks out from my eyes? What is the soul? I cannot stop asking." This is an excerpt from 13th century Islamic scholar and poet, Rumi. These words put a whole new spin on soul searching by asking us to look deeper into ourselves and examine what the soul is truly made of. It's also a line of poetry included in the sound design for the upcoming world premiere of Al Nafs, choreographed by hip hop artist extraordinaire Amirah Sackett for the diverse, athletic, and ever-enticing dancers of Chicago Dance Crash. Leading up to its premiere at Moraine Valley Community College on November 17, Amirah and Dance Crash spent months in the studio creating, crafting, and contemplating the ways in which emotions like anger and sadness can be transcended to reach a place of love. DancerMusic Dance Editor and Chicago Dance Crash company artist Kristi Licera spent time with Amirah outside of the studio to learn more and share this journey of creation and self-discovery. Here's what Amirah told us:
If you have something important to say, all you have to do is whisper it to someone, and if its truly important, chances are that person will be the first of many to hear it. If you are talented enough to be a choreographer or dancer, then sometimes, you don't have to say anything at all, and sooner or later, you may find yourself touring around the country and beyond to share your message with countless others. That's been the result of the hard work and consistent creative efforts of The Seldoms. Over the last 16 years, The Seldoms have
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: