Here's a video of Extensions Dance Company performing Lizzie MacKenzie's award-winning work "Time Now", set to an original score of the same by 'ohana Dreamdance. The performance is from the Extensions Showcase, which we was one of the finest shows we got to see last year.
We've done a few stories about this amazing company --- here are a few links to some of them, along with a free download of the piano version of the 'ohana Dreamdance track "Time Now":
Extensions Dance 2010 Showcase
Extensions Dance's Awards at ADA 2010
Choreographer Profile: Lizzie MacKenzie
Podcast: Composing "Some Time" For Lizzie MacKenzie (Part 1)
Podcast: Composing "Some Time" For Lizzie MacKenzie (Part 2)
Podcast: Composing "Some Time" For Lizzie MacKenzie (Part 3)
The process of choreography is variable and complex, and several projects ‘ohana Dreamdance has done in the past year, along with the Tenth Anniversary of Thodos Dance Chicago’s New Dances, makes this a good time to talk about that process. Extensions Dance Company, who’s 2010 Showcase is on Saturday, May 29 at the Ruth Page Center For the Arts, will be performing Lizzie MacKenzie’s work “Time Now”, set to two ‘ohana Dreamdance tracks, “Time Now” and “Some Time”. We’ve just finished the choreography mix of our track “What Was Beyond” for Shayna Swanson’s brilliant aerial choreography and performance. Finally, Mollie Mock and Jeremy Blair’s enchanting work “Reflect”, set to our track “Hidden”, premiered at New Dances last year and has just completed it’s first year in the Thodos Dance Chicago repertoire.
But maybe I should explain how I got mixed up in all of this to begin with. I’m a record producer by trade, but like many mixer/producers, I’ve also spent a lot of time recording and mixing projects that I was not producing. Before the development of system-based recording, choreographers like Melissa Thodos had to find a recording studio to put together the music for their works, and that was my first exposure to the world of Dance.
The most revealing line in Chicago choreographer Lizzie MacKenzie’s biography as Artistic Director of Extensions Dance Company may be this one: “Lizzie spends most of her free time teaching and choreographing." The realization that this is what Lizzie MacKenzie would describe as “free time” does a lot to explain her astonishingly broad range of accomplishments.
Many successful choreographers have had accomplished careers as dancers, and many company artistic directors are also accomplished choreographers. Lizzie MacKenzie, however, is at least unusual, and may be unique, in that she continues to be a successful and highly-respected dancer with one of Chicago’s leading companies (River North Chicago Dance Company), while also working as a leading choreographer. In 2008, she won the prestigious Choreographer of the Year award from Dance Chicago, presented by the Cliff Dwellers Foundation, to follow up on her 2006 New Voice Outstanding Choreographer award.
Her choreography is always graceful and fluid, and one of its most compelling attributes is a remarkable sense of dynamic architecture. In fact, whenever possible, it’s good to see her works at least once from a balcony, because there is a moving structure to what she does that becomes really apparent when seen with a full view of the stage.
Interestingly, this ability to master overall structure may be more the result of a focus on detail than on preconceived design; her designs actually seem to result from the careful composition of individual movements. Watching her in rehearsal with Extensions Dance Company, I heard her make an observation that does a lot to explain the coherence, but also the fullness, of her choreography. “Everything has a reason.” And when you add all of those reasons together, the result is inspired choreography.
Lizzie MacKenzie’s newest piece, “Time Now” is an eight-minute piece set to an original composition by Chicago group ‘ohana. It’s currently in rehearsal with her own Extensions Dance Company, and will premiere this fall.
I spent a really enjoyable -- and enlightening -- Sunday afternoon at Extensions Dance Company, getting to know the company who will be performing Lizzie MacKenzie’s new work TIME NOW, set to the original ‘ohana score that she and Dan Agosto and I have been working on for the past few months. (http://extensionsdance.com/index.html)
Extensions is a remarkable company; I walked in about fifteen minutes early, and that gave me the chance to watch Lizzie working with the dancers on the first section of “Time Now”. It was an impressive display of focus and commitment; Lizzie MacKenzie’s choreography is passionate in its detail, and these are fast-paced, dynamic details, uncompromising in their demand for technique and co-operation. So it wasn’t surprising to see a company that Lizzie founded displaying the same intense focus that she herself is known for. It also wasn’t surprising because I’ve seen Extensions perform several times, and their performances always have a graceful fire that I find unique.