"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:
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:
Dancers have the unique ability to take a piece of music and really show it to you. You may be thinking, how is that possible? Sound is a wave invisible to the naked eye, and even if you were to see that piece of music performed live, you would see the action that creates the sound, but not the sound itself. Here's where the dancer comes in. If a dancer were to create movement to your favorite song, chances are that dancer would pick up on the nuances in rhythm, accents in instrumentation, the subtle meaning behind the lyrics, and
Among the many arts of the Art of Dance, freestyling is its own special world, but it includes just about every part of what makes dance an art. Great freestyle starts with having such a range of motion and technique and inspiration that you can present any of it at any moment. Although the creative decisions are made faster than even the fastest of movement, those are the same decisions and the same creativity that are always the essence of making a dance. So it's quite remarkable that at Dance For Life 2018, Chicago Dance Crash is there to freestyle -- which is almost unheard of for such a monumental production. Crash Artistic Director Jessica Deahr took some time to give us a little closer look at four moments from Chicago Dance Crash's very rich freestyle history in 4PHOTOS from Crash. Here we go:
If you had just happened to walk in on one of Chicago Human Rhythm Project's annual STOMPING GROUNDS performances, that would have been amazing enough. STOMPING GROUNDS is a series of concerts that Chicago Human Rhythm Project has presented across the city of Chicago for the past four years, and it's not like anything else. Chicago Human Rhythm Project brings together a real all-star lineup of percussive dance companies, and to see the bright, energetic, irrestible enthusiasm of percussive dance in so many different forms, from so many different artists, steeped in the heritage of so many cultures, well that wouldn't just be amazing, that's more like a waterfall of amazing experiences, moment after cascading moment. But the Grand Finale of STOMPING GROUNDS promises to be all of that and more. There was so much that we wanted to learn about all of the dimensions of this multifaceted event that we asked Lane Alexander, Founder and Director of Chicago Human Rhythm Project, to give us a little more insight into STOMPING GROUNDS. Here's what he told us:
Chicago Dance Crash covers so much ground that you just kind of expect they'll always be up to something different than whatever you saw the last time. But right along side of all those wide ranging adventures in choreography and concert dance, has a rock-steady tradition that's been going strong for a long time. It's their Keeper of the Floor series -- KTF, the second longest-running live show in the history of Chicago. Founded in 2007, it's been hosted for the last ten years by Matthew Hollis, or as he's better known when he takes charge of KTF, Matrick Swayze. Words cannot do justice to the Crash-infused, Mattrick-Swayze-curated good-natured mayhem of KTF, so instead of writing one more word about it, we asked Matthew to tell us all about Mattrick and ten years of KTF with Chicago Dance Crash. Here's what he told us --
Ashley Deran founded A. Deran Photography in 2011 with a focus on dance concert events and dance publicity. Since then, she has photographed for companies including Chicago Dance Crash, The Seldoms, Chicago Repertory Ballet, Inaside Chicago Dance, Chicago Dance History Project, Salty Lark Dance Company, The Chicago Fringe Festival, Columbia College, and Western Michigan University. It is also worth mentioning that Ashley is an established dance artist in Chicago and is the Co-Director of Project Bound Dance. Her keen eye both inside the studio and behind the camera lens, as well as the ability to direct a dancer in both circumstances, produce sharp, expressive images that any dancer would love to have. In this 4PHOTOS, Ashley takes us through the four images that every dancer should have in their portfolio, plus the do's and don'ts on how to get them. Here's a pro's advice on how to put your best foot (and face) forward:
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 ---
You might recognize the face above from your television. That's right -- Chantelle Mrowka most recently graced screens across America as part of the dance company, Diavolo - finalists on this past season America's Got Talent. In the midst of Chantelle's jam packed touring and performance schedule, DancerMusic's Kristi Licera got a chance to ask her about moving across the country, Diavolo, her advice on bouncing back from injuries, and more. Check out what Chantelle had to say, and keep your eye out for her on stages across the US!
Mark Hackman doesn't really need an introduction, all you would have to say is "He's the Producing Director of Chicago Dance Crash, one of Crash's founders", and that should do it. There's actually a lot more to that story, but it will have to wait, because in this one we're handing the mic to Mark, and with no further introduction, here are 4PHOTOS (really 5) with introduction and comments by ---- ready? ---- Mark Hackman.