Dance Companies

IDC: Innervation Dance Cooperative

IDC Apollo and Marsyas

Innervations Dance Cooperative is an innovative Chicago company currently presenting work from two projects. The first is part of a new initiative that Elisa Carlson, one of the Company's Artistic Directors, told aotpr about recently; it's called IDC SPEAKS, and it's a new touring and outreach program. IDC SPEAKS is bringing two productions to Chicago area schools: the first is Gods, Monsters, and Heroes, which tells Greek mythology through movement, set to contemporary pop/rock music. The second is Everyman, which tells the medieval morality play by the same name, set entirely to Led Zeppelin.

The best place to catch an IDC performance if you're not lucky enough to be at one of the schools they're touring is at Dance Chicago: The company will be performing four pieces at the month-long festival: Crooked by Mandy Work (Jazz Cabaret, Sunday, November 6 at 3:00pm), Three by Molly Beck (New Moves B, Thursday, November 10 at 8:00pm), Got You by Stephanie Unger (New Moves C, Wednesday, November 16 at 8:00pm), and The Tale of Apollo and Orion by Michael Sherman (Dance Carnival, Thursday, November 17 at 8:00pm).

For more about IDC, by all means check out innervationdance.org and their facebook.

Ginger Jensen and Renegade Dance Architects

Renegade Dance Architects

Choreography is such an active art form that people don't always hear about how much thought goes into its creation, and yet much of what makes Dance so compelling is that an art form whose expression is so physical is the product of such careful thought. This is of course true of the choreographers and dancers, but there is also a rich and careful creative process behind all of the complexities of beginning, maintaining and inspiring a Dance Company, and in the presentation of each of their concerts. Here are some thoughts from Ginger Jensen, the Artistic Director of Renegade Dance Architects.

About the Concert "What Is Home To You": "I like to ask questions of our audiences, as I feel this makes them more a part of the process.  Last year's concert was "What makes you extraordinairy?"  ... This year's idea of home is another universal idea, that largely differs depending on who you ask.  People have replied that home is a place where they can truly be themselves, where they aren't afraid to make mistakes, where there is comfort, where there is love."

Renegade Dance Architects Presents What is Home To You

Renegade Dance Architects

Renegade Dance Architects is a new Chicago dance company with an innovative emphasis on creating accessible new dances in what they describe as "a healthy environment for dancers and choreographers". The Company is presenting four performances of "What Is Home To You" October 6 and 7 and again October 13 and 14 at the Hamlin Park Fieldhouse Theater (3036 N. Hoyne Ave, Chicago).

What Is Home to You will feature new works by Molly Beck and Stephanie Unger, Amy Williams, and Artistic Director Ginger Jensen, as well as Jensen's audience favorite "Forgiveness, Not Permission". Peformances are at 7:30PM each night, and tickets are available from brownpapertickets.com

The Dance COLEctive's Balancing Act

Dance COLEctive (Photo by William Frederking)

To be the founder of a Dance Company requires a vivid balance, because it's a challenge that juxtaposes two kinds of artistic effort that are, if not explicitly contradictory, at least a little paradoxical. On the one hand, the undertaking would be unthinkable to anyone with less than a profoundly individual sense of motivation. Directing a Company is a daunting enterprise, and like any artistic beginning, it demands a compelling personal vision, a clear but always-unfinished visualization of art that should be created but hasn't been yet. But unlike the artist who approaches a blank canvas or an as-yet unwritten musical score, the individual who sets out to begin a Dance Company immediately embraces an unpredictable and unending series of challenges and limitations to their individual vision, because the process of Dance is inevitably so collaborative. Collaborative with the performers who must present a choreographer's composition, but just as importantly, in all of the logistical and financial challenges that come with funding, staging, and administration.

The Joffrey Ballet's Victoria Jaiani and Hedy Weiss in Dance Magazine

Dance Magazine cover featuring Victoria Jaiani.  Photo by Herbert Migdoll

The cover of the October issue of Dance Magazine features Victoria Jaiani of the Joffrey Ballet, who is the featured artist in an informative cover story written by Hedy Weis. Ballet is a world of its own, and Weiss manages to combine a cohesive biographical story about Jaiani (quite a story at that) with some very three-dimensional insight into life at the Joffrey. It's one of those articles that serves as an informative introductory guide to a subject you're aware of but don't know well, which is a fair description of the ballet and aotpr.com.

Weiss finds a lot of those remarkable details that take you into a world that somebody else lives every day. One of my favorites is when the Joffrey's Artistic Director Ashley Wheater (whose several appearances in the article paint a fascinating picture of the role of an Artistic Director) is describing some of what makes Jaiani so good. "... Her jump seemed to spring from nothing, like a deer". That's an intriguing observation, and clearly an important idea in ballet, where verticality often seems so primary, but from there Wheater moves on to a concept that was new to me. He continues with an idea that implies a very different way of seeing ballet performance: "She has such a fluid upper body --- something I think we've lost globally in ballet --- so she really stands out." Quite an insight into what an Artistic Director has to perceive, and into how movement in ballet defines its own evolving ideals. It's a very enjoyable read, despite everything you end up learning. Worth finding at the news stand, or take a look at the article at dancemagazine.com.

The A.W.A.R.D. Show Chicago

The A.W.A.R.D. Show is presented in a really unique format, with work by the twelve finalists in the competition divided between three consecutive nights. Last night's presentation was the first of the three shows that leads up to Saturday's finale, where three works, one from each evening, are presented again to complete the selection of the award winner. Wednesday's show included works in four very different styles. The first was the duet "It's Not Enough To Close Your Eyes" by Jacqueline Stewart, which was followed by an innovative solo work entitled "Sometimes/Always", both choreographed and danced by Alicia Wilson. The third piece in the program was an intriguing excerpt from the ballet "Curiosity" by Mike Gosney, performed by seven dancers, in an interwoven series of solos, duets and trio. The final work of the evening was Kate Corby's imaginative "Go", which was choreographed in collaboration with the dancers Erin Kilmurray, Emily Miller and Anna Normann.

Thodos Dance Chicago's NEW DANCES Reviews

The New Dances 2010 concerts at the Dance Center presented three nights of some of the most impressive new dance creation you could ask for. The combined creativity of the ten featured choreographers, expressed in the movement of an inspired cast of performers, and with the support of an exceptional production staff, made for a one-of-a-kind presentation. The reviews have been exceptional, with Sid Smith in the Chicago Tribune on Sunday, and Hedy Weiss on Tuesday in the Chicago Sun-Times both writing strongly supportive pieces. Hedy Weiss opens with a great paragraph about the daunting challenges of dance creation in an article whose title described the show as "a rich threatrical work". She goes on to describe the presentation as "very thoughtful, richly theatrical work that often was downright virtuosic." Sid Smith described New Dances 2010 as a "worthy potpourri", and observes that "the production is slick, the technical trappings superb and the event is well worth replicating elsewhere". To read either review in full, click on either the Chicago Sun-Times or the Chicago Tribune. To read some of the aotpr.com series on the Choreography of New Dances, click on any of the links below:

Sharon Joyce Kung and "Just Before Now"
Brian Hare and "Temporary Proof"
Wade Schaaf and "Dancer, Net"
Jacqueline Stewart and "Jiffy Pop"
Joshua Manculich and "____versus____"
Danielle Scanlon and "Heart Strings"
Francisco Avina & Stephanie Martinez Bennitt and "Quieting the Clock"
Jeremy Blair and "2:00 AM, Delancy St."
Jessica Miller Tomlinson and "Big Technique"

Thodos Dance Chicago Presents NEW DANCES 2010

Thodos Dance Chicago NEW DANCES 2010

Thodos Dance Chicago’s NEW DANCES 2010 will be presented July 16 and 17 at 8PM and on Sunday July 18 at 5PM at The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, 1306 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago 60605. (312) 369-8330. For ten years, New Dances has been a uniquely successful showcase of new choreography; it's innovative approach to supporting the development of new works has created a whole artistic scene around the rehearsals and studio work, costuming, sound and lighting design that go on each spring and early summer, leading to the July performances. It's a once-a-year opportunity to see a bright and broad spectrum of innovative dance creation, but at major-company levels of performance and production. You can find out more about each of the choreographers and the works they will be premiering here:

Sharon Joyce Kung and "Just Before Now"
Brian Hare and "Temporary Proof"
Wade Schaaf and "Dancer, Net"
Jacqueline Stewart and "Jiffy Pop"
Joshua Manculich and "____versus____"
Danielle Scanlon and "Heart Strings"
Francisco Avina & Stephanie Martinez Bennitt and "Quieting the Clock"
Jeremy Blair and "2:00 AM, Delancy St."
Jessica Miller Tomlinson and "Big Technique"

The Process Of Choreography (Part 1): Thodos Dance Chicago New Dances 2010

Thodos Dance Chicago celebrates the tenth year of its New Dances series, probably the most successful of the many Dance Company-sponsored programs for the development of new choreography. It’s not uncommon for Dance companies to have a program that encourages their members and guest artists to choreograph in a special developmental program. The Thodos Dance New Dances approach is a much more far-reaching commitment than is the norm, though.

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