"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:
If we had to choose one word to describe Monte Rezell.... well, honestly, we couldn't. Monte is a man of many talents: dancer, emcee, DJ, lyricist, producer, teacher - the list goes on and on. But what stands out most about this hip hop artist is the warmth and passion of his spirit. Within moments of meeting Monte, it is clear that his heart belongs to hip hop. DancerMusic's Kristi Licera got a chance to catch up with Monte before he hits the stage with his company, Movement Revolution Dance Crew for Off the Wall: The MJ Remix Experience this Sunday, December 10 at Links Hall in Chicago. Here's what Monte had to share:
Chicago Dance Crash is a company as unique as its artists, with a history of bending the rules of concert dance. In its 15th anniversary season, this band of professional misfits took on the task of creating an original full length production, 'The Bricklayers of Oz' - currently in the running for 'Most Inventive New Work' in Dance Magazine's Readers' Choice Awards 2017. Company Dancer Kristi Licera tells us why this show deserves your vote!