Zachary Whittenburg isn't just one of the most informative voices in dance writing, he also knows the annual New Dances project as well as anyone, so we just had to ask him what we'll see at NEW Dances 2019. Here's what he told us:
Joshua Manculich's new work "Scenic Route" will be part of DanceWorks Chicago's "DanceFlight" at Chicago's Ruth Page Center for the Arts, and of course we wanted to hear more about what went into making the work. Here's what Joshua told us:
On Friday, June 29th, and again on Sunday, July 1, Thodos Dance Chicago and DanceWorks Chicago will present the very latest incarnation of a legendary dance event, NEW Dances. Audiences at Chicago's Ruth Page Center for the Arts will see a brand new dance company, specially formed for this performance, in works by six choreographers, specially made for NEW Dances. This year marks a new beginning, adding a present and a future to the story of New Dances. Two of the most influential, and most creatively community-aware professionals in Chicago dance -- Melissa Thodos and Julie Nakagawa -- decided last year to transition the New Dances event to a joint effort by DanceWorks Chicago and Thodos Dance Chicago. The performances feature new works by choreographers Shannon Alvis, Braeden Barnes, Katlin Michael Bourgeois, J’Sun Howard, Chris Johnson, and Anna Long. We asked both Melissa and Julie to let us in on a little more of this story, and here's what they told us:
There are a lot of stories in this story. There's a story about being a choreographer -- how to become one, and what it's like to be one. Taylor Mitchell is unusually eloquent in his movement vocabulary, and just as much so in sharing his always-carefully-constructed perspective, so when we heard that his first major professional dance work, Red Beans and Rice-ly Yours was also going to be his most recent dance work, we thought it would be a good time to hear more about his journey. There's another story in this story about being a dance company. The Big Muddy Dance Company in St. Louis is performing Meet Me In ... (on Friday, April 6 at 8pm and Saturday, April 7 at 2pm) at St. Louis' Grandel Theatre. Meet Me In ... is about Big Muddy's hometown of St. Louis, about its roots and heritage and its great icons. It's a program that will include work by Artistic Director Brian Enos, world-renowned choreographer Robyn Mineko Williams, company dancer Robert Poe, and Taylor Mitchell, which gets us back to that first story.
Manuel Vignoulle's ability to create intensely engaging choreography is something that a lot of people in the dance world have known about for a while now. Not surprisingly though, his choreography gets even more attention now, because last November, his work Black and White was awarded the 2017 Choreography Festival Grand Prize Award at the McCallum Theatre Choreography Festival.
When it comes to dance, Shannon Alvis has pretty much done it all! Not only has she danced with two of the most renowned companies in the world - Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (HSDC) and Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT), she was also a recipient of the Joffrey Ballet’s Winning Work’s Choreographic Competition in 2017. I got the chance to chat with Shannon about some of her most pivotal moments in her career as well as what she is working on next. Here is what she told us: