Joshua Manculich began planning this work several years ago, building it out of a repeated awareness of how opposing forces in every life bind an individual, limit an individual, prevent an individual from breaking out of -- something. Could be anything, and in everybody's experience, it's many different things, which is why the title leaves both parts of the opposition blank. The essential idea is of determination and endeavor --- because Manculich is more concerned with what a person does about breaking free than he is with the specific challenge that binds them. In doing so, he also identifies one of the unique qualities of choreography among the arts. A painting of this subject, and there are many, would have to be deeply abstract, like music, or else literal and specific, like writing. But in voicing this study in the movements of ten dancers on a stage that is emblematic of their challenge, Manculich's choreography can remain focused while still being inclusive of all similar challenges.
"____versus____" implies desperation, while at the same time defying it, as waves of dancers move across a stage where left and right come to embody where they are and where they need to be, or perhaps what they are, and what they need to become. Soloists, duets and trios attempt the same crossing, with the sweeping lines of the piece's movement architecture developing a story line that is perhaps more vivid because of its unspecified detail. Its an impressive use of space, the way Manculich is able to build tension that suggests --- but never promises --- eventual resolution, simply with the relentless exploration of a few fixed dimensions.
There's something ancient about this kind of story-telling, something that could almost pre-date language itself, as its subject certainly does. This is a story written wordlessly, told with movement-language, and because of that, all the more immediate in its meaning.
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
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"