Dance Performance

The Choreography of New Dances: Sharon Joyce Kung and “Just Before Now”

Sharon Joyce Kung with her maternal great-grandmother and her maternal grandfath
Sharon Joyce Kung (Photo by Cheryl Mann, courtesy of Thodos Dance Chicago)

Sharon Joyce Kung, whose new choreographic work “Just Before Now” will premiere this July at New Dances 2010, had an intriguing concept for this piece. In part inspired by the recent passing of her grandfather, and in part by the remarkable life journey of his mother (her maternal great grandmother), Kung wanted to explore some of the rich philosophical ideas of her heritage. Her great-grandmother struggled heroically to bring a young family (including her grandfather) safely out of the chaos of the Japanese invasion of China, settling finally in Hong Kong. Having a clear concept in mind is a great start, but to communicate that concept to those who must make the work with you while you yourself are still working out how to express your vision --- that can be a challenge. In Kung’s case it may have been even more complicated. When a subject is as rich as this, to express that concept in movement requires a delicate balance of commitment and flexibility.

JMT/JLS at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts

JMT/JLS, the evening of choreography by Jessica Miller Tomlinson and Jacqueline Stewart, is one of those shows that’s really too good to miss. It runs one more night (Saturday, June 5 at 8PM) at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, and if there’s any way you can get to it, do. There aren’t too many other places where you could see such a wide-ranging selection of really imaginative work. It includes compelling ensemble pieces like Jaqueline Stewart’s “Re-directing Fear” and Jessica Miller Tomlinson’s “Let Me In”, a pair of mesmerizing duets (Tomlinson’s “Crimes D’Amour in the first act, Stewart’s “It’s Not Enough To Close Your Eyes" in the second), and five other intricately imagined and superbly executed works: “Aurora”, a solo danced by Cara Sabin, Stewart’s “Nice Women Don’t Crave Disaster”, Tomlinson’s “Forget What You Came For?”, Stewart’s “E-ffect”, and Tomlinson’s “Die Lieder Tanzen”.

Extensions Dance 2010 Showcase

Extensions Dance Company 2010 Showcase Flyer

Extensions Dance Company’s 2010 showcase, which took place Saturday at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, was not only a great concert, it was in many ways a unique experience, the kind of experience that can be difficult to place in a specific category. It was a Dance Concert in the traditional sense, a presentation of dance pieces that each featured excellent performance and inspired design, and that flowed convincingly from one to another. It was also very much a showcase; the program provided an in-depth presentation of the abilities and accomplishments of the Company dancers, both individually and in ensemble works. It was also a celebration of the fifth anniversary of Extensions Dance, a celebration of a remarkably successful season for the Company, and a celebration of the contributions of two Extensions performers, Miranda Borkan and Natalie Pearson, both of whom will attend the prestigious Alvin Ailey / Fordham University partnership program in New York.

Extensions Dance 2010 Showcase

Extensions Dance presents its 2010 Showcase this May 29 at 6:30 PM at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts. It marks the completion of an exceptionally successful year for the Company, including most recently an astonishing set of awards at the American Dance Association Chicago Regional.

Choreographer Profile: Jacqueline Stewart

Choreographer Jacqueline Stewart
Jacqueline Stewart

Jacqueline Stewart’s choreography has an unusual depth, an edgy complexity that can be difficult to describe. It’s as if her work conveys some of the dimensions of multi-media productions, even without the presence of explicit multi-media elements. In fact, she is proficient in a variety of different media; she integrates her own video production, graphic arts and photography into a variety of projects, including the promotional developtment for JMT/JLS, her collaboration with Jessica Miller Tomlinson. (JMT/JLS
happens June 4th and 5th at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts in Chicago.) Even when her work does not include multi-media elements, you can almost see this perspective in things like her inventive sense of balance-in-movement, or in the intriguingly creative titles for her choreographic works.

Extensions Dance: How Artists Compete

Extensions Dance
Extensions Dance

Extensions Dance, the Company founded and directed by Lizzie MacKenzie for exceptionally dedicated young dancers, would be what is normally referred to as a “preprofessional company” -- I think I’ve used that term in an earlier article, and it’s certainly accurate. None of these dancers are professional in the dictionary sense, where the most basic definition of “professional” means “to be compensated monetarily for work performed.” The term “preprofessional” actually has a very positive implication in the dance world, because it implies a level of commitment and ability in the company members that is characteristic of someone who will dance professionally.

I went to see Extensions Dance at the American Dance Awards competition at Governors State University last Saturday, and I’ve never seen a more professional demonstration (although that’s true every time I see this company anywhere, in rehearsal or in performance).

Choreographer Profile: Jessica Miller Tomlinson

Photo of Jessica Miller Tomlinson

Jessica Miller Tomlinson’s choreography has attracted an increasingly dedicated following over the past few years; her 2006 work “Forget What You Came For?”and last year’s “Architecture: Splintered and Cracked” were both commissioned for the Thodos Dance Chicago New Dances series, and both were subsequently added to the Company’s repertoire. This June, Jessica and Jaqueline Stewart will present a special two-night production of their own works at JMT/JLS (June 4-5 at the Ruth Page Center For the Arts, Chicago), where Jessica will premiere a new work entitled “Let Me In”.

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.

Thodos Dance Chicago Fall Concert Presents Fosse Trilogy at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance

Thodos Dance Chicago’s 2009 Fall Concert is being presented at two venues, and the first performance, at The North Shore Center For The Performing Arts was a don’t-miss performance. The Centre East main theatre was packed for an exceptionally well-presented show, and the second installment, at the Harris Theatre for Music and Dance, is Saturday, November 28 at 8:00 PM. For tickets, phone the Harris Theater at 312 334-777 or go to www.harristheaterchicago.org.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to what you can expect:

RAW (Resident Artists' Workshop) @ the Garage

The Garage in San Francisco is literally just that a...garage...turned black box theater committed to presenting emerging artists in the bay area. The RAW program offers artists 12 weeks of free rehearsal space which culminates in 2 evening performances. I am thrilled to use this opportunity to further develop "Sleeping Palms" into an evening-length piece. In earlier incarnations it was performed as a solo with video, and as a solo with students of Moving Arts Dance Center.

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