Wade Schaaf

Great Reviews: The Thodos Dance Chicago Winter Concert

"The White City" at the Thodos Dance Chicago Winter Concert

The Thodos Dance Chicago Winter Concert, featuring major new works by Ann Reinking and Melissa Thodos ("The White City: Chicago's Columbian Exposition of 1893") and by multi-talented choreographer Ron De Jesús ("Shift"), has received a very impressive crictical response. The show begins with Reinking and Thodos's work, and in the second act, which closes with "Shift", audiences also get to see the return of two audience and critical favorites from 2010 New Dances series: "Quieting the Clock" by Francisco Avina and Stephanie Martin-Bennet, and "Dancer, Net (Solo 1)" by Wade Schaaf, as well as a second world premiere by Thodos, "Getting There", a sequel to the signature work that began her choreographic career. Here are some excerpts from a few of the reviews:

Hedy Weiss, The Chicago Sun-Times: "The program, whose second act contained four other works of exceptional quality ... is a must-see for anyone intrigued by Chicago history, by the power of dance to spin a story, and by the sight of a dance troupe clearly in the throes of a major breakthrough.
... “The White City” is a sophisticated, utterly involving blend of ingeniously imagined, superbly executed movement (with echoes of everything from “The Green Table” ballet to Broadway’s “Ragtime”); ravishing music (Bruce Wolosoff’s seductive “Songs Without Words,” played thrillingly by the Carpe Diem Quartet, perched in a balcony box); film (clever use of archival material by Christopher Kai Olsen, with deft narration by Chris Multhauf); haunting lighting (by Nathan Tomlinson, whose artistry was on display throughout the evening), and period-perfect costumes (by Nathan Rohrer)."

The Thodos Dance Chicago Winter Concert: Wade Schaaf and Dancer, Net

Dancer, Net at the Thodos Dance Chicago Winter Concert

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.

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 Choreography of New Dances: Wade Schaaf and Dancer, Net

Wade Schaaf (Photo by Cheryl Mann, courtesy of Thodos Dance Chicago)

Wade Schaaf's new work "Dancer, Net" was inspired by the concept of French impressionist painter Claude Monet's Haystack series, which "is known for its thematic use of repetition to show differences in perception of light across various times of day, seasons and types of weather" (Wikipedia). Even the title of the work, "Dancer, Net" reflects the conventions of painting, where a work will often be identified by it's subject ("Wheatstacks (End Of Summer)") and the way it is made ("Oil on Canvas"). In "Dancer, Net" Schaaf creates three separate solos, each of which features the same soloist and the same net-like fabric bag. The three solos are performed separately, at different points during the concert program, thereby accentuating the impact of the changing perspective from which an audience will see them. Schaaf's most recent work was a successful large-ensemble piece ("Awakening"), and in turning his creative vision to the more raw, more immediately-apparent movements of a solo work, he is able to explore in detail the many facets of a single subject.

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