The Choreography of New Dances: Danielle Scanlon and Heart Strings

Danielle Scanlon (photo by Cheryl Mann, courtesy of Thodos Dance Chicago)

Even in the broad landscape of modern choreography, Heart Strings is unusually bold, bold in the deceptively easy way that Danielle Scanlon plays with the most everyday of ideas -- the clothes we choose. Scanlon finds in that common cloth an intricate tapestry, and she uses it like a lens through which she examines the most individual and private of emotions. Set to a three-section soundscape of gentle, sometimes melancholy instrumentals, Scanlon takes a patient and careful look at the far-more-than-material threads that tie us to our past, to what we once wished for, to what never happened or never happened again. In doing so, she also explores one of the most effective of choreographic techniques, the contrast between a common, everyday action, like trying on a piece of clothing, and the extraordinary grace of the dancers' movements. To see Dance on stage is always other-worldly, but when it is interwoven with the ordinary, its transcendence of the routines of daily experience is even more enchanting.

"Heart Strings" is constructed in three sections, a solo followed by two duets, and it begins with the wistful explorations by a solo dancer of her unused clothes, and maybe her unused memories. In the normal, everyday process of deciding what to wear, the dancer begins to discover moments from her past, perhaps something from a former love, perhaps something from a part of her life that's mostly gone, except for what she can still keep in her closet. The piece transitions gently into a duet, playful and fresh and flirty, like the white frilly dress that seems to inspire it, before moving into its final section, more sensual and solemn. Fittingly, this final duet reflects the edgier and more enticing inspiration of a simple black slip.

"Heart Strings" is tantalizingly faithful in its exploration of simplicity. In simple clothes, simple memories, simple interaction, Scanlon evokes much more profound and complex experiences, but she does so nearly invisibly, almost out of your sight, like something that stays hidden in your closet.

Thodos Dance Chicago’s NEW DANCES 2010 happens 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


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 & Sephanie Martinez Bennitt and "Quieting the Clock"
Jeremy Blair and "2:00 AM, Delancy St."
Jessica Miller Tomlinson and "Big Technique"

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