Thodos Dance

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.

BACKSTAGE: Nathan Tomlinson and JMT/JLS

Nathan Tomlinson (Photo by Cheryl Mann, courtesy of Thodos Dance Chicago)

Nathan Tomlinson is one of the most prolific performers in Chicago dance, but he’s only on stage before and after the shows. This Friday and Saturday, he’ll be on stage for the JMT/JLS programs at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts --- not in person during the performances, but in his multidimensional roles of lighting designer, technical director, and just-make-sure-everything-goes-right manager.

Tomlinson is especially respected for his dynamically innovative lighting designs. He is the Resident Lighting Designer and Technical Director for Thodos Dance Chicago and he also works extensively with independent choreographers (including Jessica Miller Tomlinson and Jacqueline Stewart at JMT/JLS). He can also be found in technical fields far from Dance, like lighting the City of Chicago’s annual Michigan Avenue Christmas Display. It’s not surprising that someone with the technical expertise to light dozens of the most high-priced city blocks in the world finds it easy to invent, innovate and explore new ideas in production lighting.

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:

3Q Melissa Thodos

“No one carries off this daunting challenge with more panache than Melissa Thodos…” That’s what Hedy Weiss wrote in her review of the tremendously successful Thodos Dance Chicago New Dances 2009. The challenge that she was referring to is that of creating and managing a process that allows new choreographers to develop their own voices, as Thodos Dance Chicago (www.thodosdancechicago.org) has for the past ten years, since the inception of its brilliant summer series New Dances.

Mollie Mock's New Choreography Work with 'ohana Dreamdance

'ohana Dreamdance producer and composer Johnny Nevin is writing an original score for a new work by choreographers Mollie Mock and Jeremy Blair. "Reflect" will be premiered at the July 2009 New Dances performances of Thodos Dance Chicago at the Ruth Page Theater in Chicago (and more on that as it gets closer). Mollie envisions the project as an ensemble piece that explores a world of mystery and hidden passion, and the 'ohana track for the score is entitled "Hidden". The track is largely orchestral, but includes a large and complex percussion section. "Hidden" begins with an opening scene of rich musical darkness, and then goes on to discover a series of colors and emotions, developing through changing sections of driving rhythmic passages and melodic dreamscapes.

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