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.
Jiffy Pop's opening has a feeling of premonition; dancers in fashionable swimwear make their way downstage in a a kind of slow-motion vogue, like driftwood (or maybe worse) being washed slowly ashore. From there, Stewart moves irresistibly into a section set to nineteen-sixties instrumental pop, where each of of the six dancers in the piece is featured within an empty Victorian picture frame, which moves with them in a gleefully macabre exploration of wished-for fame. Where can such massive misguidance lead to? Into relationships, of course, which is the next phase of Stewart's study, as the cast of dancers, partnering to a more recent electro soundtrack, become fascinated with the fakeness of mutual objectification. The piece concludes with a hauntingly emblematic musical choice, a seemingly upbeat french hip-hop track, which in fact tells the story of losing someone close in a plane crash.
Stewart's light touch makes the weight of her subject all the more threatening; "Jiffy Pop" could be a short-form documentary, a film about an entire media culture that poses mindlessly as it crashes and burns.
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
READ MORE ABOUT THODOS DANCE CHICAGO'S NEW DANCES 2010:
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"