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.
It's more than a little remarkable, then, to see the transition of "Dancer, Net" to a single solo, as it's performed at the Thodos Dance Chicago Winter Concert. Just as successful, the transition from three sections to one is a priceless study of artistic process. Although Schaaf's original concept was striking and compelling, the actual work included much more than just the intellectual idea. The performance by Stewart, the costume by Rohrer, and the synthesis of it all in Schaaf's movement design are what really define the work when it's seen. When seen as a single solo, "Dancer, Net (Solo 1)" is complete, and completely intriguing, like a single Monet. That may be what the work has most in common with the original Haystack series after all.