"Triptych: 3 Dance Voices" is the perfect name for a collaboration between Winifred Haun, Jessica Miller Tomlinson and Jacqueline Stewart; each is a multi-talented artist focused in Choreography, but all three are perhaps most recognized for the originality of their artistic expression. Winifred Haun is the founder of Winifred Haun & Dancers, a Company that has produced over a hundred and twenty-five original works since 1991. As impressive as longevity and originality are as separate qualities, very few Companies have combined them as successfully as Winifred Haun & Dancers. Jessica Miller Tomlinson is noted both for her consistently unique choreographic vision, and for her ability to successfully express her remarkable range of inspiration. Jacqueline Stewart, whose early works were Chicago based and who now lives and works in New York, is both choreographer and visual artist, and her multi-faceted view of the world is always somehow woven into the fabric of her choregraphic work.
"Triptych: 3 Dance Voices", which will be presented at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts on Friday, March 23 and Saturday, March 24 at 7:30 PM, features six works, two by each Choreographer. Haun's works include "Bemused", an aerial duet inspired by "the tortured relationship between a man and his slowly developing idea", and her acclaimed "Bento". Jessica Miller Tomlinson presents two world premieres, "Run 1, Run 2, Run 3" is a duet for Tomlinson and Joshua Manculich, and "Transient Interactions", an abstract group work for five couples. Jacqueline Stewart will also premiere two works, "Coffee and Alcohol", a quintet inspired "by the sensations of dehydration", and "Manos: FRAME 1", "the story of a woman lost in her own images and movements". (The piece was inspired by the photograph, taken by Stewart, pictured with this article.)
This is a really unique opportunity to see six works by three compelling choreographers; tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets. After Friday's performance, there will be a discussion with the choreographers, and Stewart will teach a Master Class from 5:00 to 6:00 P.M. For more information about each of these remarkable choreographers, check out each of their sites at Winifred Haun, Jacqueline Stewart and Jessica Miller Tomlinson.
Jacqueline Stewart describes Jaxon Movement Arts as "a project-based company that creates dance art inspired by current events and active collaborations with adjacent artistic mediums". The full-length work Dance Gallery 2011 is an especially successful expression of this philosophy. Presented in collaboration with JMT/JLS choreographer Jessica Miller Tomlinson, Dance Gallery 2011 is an embracing journey through the myriad landscapes of artistic collaboration. Naturally, like the JMT/JLS 2010 production that was the first coproduction by the award winning choregraphers, Dance Gallery 2011 moves through the series of unique choreographic visions that Stewart and Tomlinson always manage to conjure. Unique to this project though was the presentation of Concert as Gallery, with each individual work set in a different section of the art gallery-style space. The inevitable interaction between a constantly-moving audience perspective and the inspired performances highlighted ever more vividly the richness of collaborations --- dance, production, design and performance --- woven into the work.
Wade Schaaf's "Dancer, Net" is a truly daring work; conceived as a series of studies of the same subject in different lights, it was inspired by Monet's Haystack paintings, but Schaaf's interpretation of "same subject" and "different lights" is so blisteringly imaginative that the reference to the French impressionist paintings becomes quite an understatement. The original work featured the same dancer (Jacqueline Stewart) in more or less the same amazing costume (the Net) by Nathan Rohrer, performing in three separate solos, and at its World Premiere in July, 2010, the three solos were placed at different stages throughout the program. The wildly expansive variety of music, movement and staging that Schaaf conceived stretched the fabric of his original concept in ways that seemed essential to the success of the work.
"Grey Noise" by Joanna Rosenthal, "Moi Aussi" by Michel Rodriguez, and "It's Not Enough To Close Your Eyes" by Jacqueline Stewart made for an outstanding final evening in the 2010 A.W.A.R.D. show in Chicago. The three works express the three distinctly different visions of Rosenthal, Rodriguez and Stewart and, as is fitting to the final evening in a prestigious competition, each of the works was carefully thought-out and executed at award show level. Jacqueline Stewart was awarded the 2010 prize for her intoxicating duet, presented in a stunning performance by Grace Whitworth and Charlie Cutler, on the basis of a decision by a panel of four judges: Lane Alexander, Homer Bryant, Roeli Schmidt and Linda Shelton. The final decision is actually determined by five votes, one by each judge, as well as one vote based the results of an anonymous ballot of audience members.
The A.W.A.R.D. Show tries to establish parameters for how to choose among the works presented, but it can never be easy to compare such richly different voices in any hierarchical way. Stewart's "It's Not Enough To Close Your Eyes" is certainly a uniquely compelling vision, not only because of the imaginative way that a simple light on stage serves as a focus of the work, but even more so because of the effortless flow of movement ideas in an unspoken story. One of the real challenges of judging a competition though, is where to even find a basis for comparison, how to even begin to judge creative ideas. Is there really any way to compare the somber mysteries of "It's Not Enough To Close Your Eyes" to the expansive and bright "Moi Aussi"? Although also a duet, in Rodriguez' work Jessie Gutierrez and the choreographer perform a dynamic, intricately athletic drama, effortlessly commanding the full scope of a large stage. Joanna Rosenthal presents yet another challenge to a judge, and at The A.W.A.R.D. show that includes everyone in the audience, with an excerpt from her work "Grey Noise", in which a cast of five dancers develop a broadly-conceived architecture to some of the boldest soundtrack ideas that a choreographer could design.
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.
The Joyce Theater "was created by dancers for dance". That's the simple introduction that the Joyce Theater Foundation begins with in the section on the Joyce's history at their site's Mission & History page. The description of what the Joyce Theater Foundation does is especially interesting in light of The A.W.A.R.D. show program that they sponsor now in five cities around the country, including on Wednesday July 28 at 8PM at The Dance Center of Columbia College. Here's what they say: "The mission of The Joyce Theater Foundation is to serve and support the art of dance and choreography [and] promote the richness and variety of the art form in its fullest expression ...". Especially interesting to me was to learn that the Joyce Theater itself, which I've often heard about but haven't yet been to, is a 427-seat theater, exactly the right size for the support of small and medium-sized dance companies.
"Know Thyself" was Socrates' timeless advice for anyone hoping to understand the experience of life, and implied in his centuries-old wisdom is an understanding that our own awareness is an inevitable filter to everything we can know or be. Jacqueline Stewart explores this same idea in her new work "It's Not Enough To Close Your Eyes", which is part of the Joyce Theater Foundation's A.W.A.R.D. Show on Wednesday July 28 at 8PM at The Dance Center of Columbia College. Stewart includes an additional richness to her study of self-knowledge by placing it within the often-beautiful, always complex realm of relationship. If a relationship is the experience you share, who you are is fundamental to what you can be with or for another. How you learn to know yourself, to be challenged to look into yourself more deeply, is the study in light and movement that is "It's Not Enough To Close Your Eyes". It's a deeply textured work, an evolving story about the way that two people, each looking carefully into the other's perspective, begin to see themselves more clearly.
"It's Not Enough To Close Your Eyes" begins with the vivid image of a woman standing over a small, clear light, as if deep in the uncertain illumination of introspection. As the movement gradually broadens to include the more expansive motion of her partner --- her lover perhaps, but maybe her friend or even brother --- each of them becomes more occupied with an awareness of the other, and in so doing, with seeing themselves in the different light of what can be known together. Stewart alchemises space, movement and light, keeping the dancers very close to the illumination they share, as if that were the whole world.
Although set as a duet, somehow both stark and romantic, the interwoven intensity of two dancers reacting to each other and to a single, mysterious Fresnel light invokes a broader subject. "It's Not Enough To Close Your Eyes" is straightforward in its unadorned visual enchantment, but in its personal and intimate movement Stewart quietly implies all of the ways we might interact with, share with, and learn to know ourselves with someone else.
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"
In her new work "Jiffy Pop", Jacqueline Stewart delves into a concept called "the gaze", which the web site Art and Popular Culture explains this way: "The concept of gaze ... in analysing visual culture is one that deals with how an audience views the people presented." More ominous, and more in line with Stewart's vision in "Jiffy Pop" is the Wikipedia article on "the gaze", which discusses how "the subject's autonomy is brought into question by the projection of her 'identity' on to an exterior object". If that sounds esoteric, wait until you see "Jiffy Pop", where Stewart propels her audience into a front-of-the-roller-coaster ride through the the image-obsessed madness of modern media culture.
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”.