Where Are They Now? Luna Negra’s Renee Adams

Dancer Renee Adams opens up about the end of Luna Negra Dance Theater and what she’s up to now.

Where are you now?

Richland, WA.

What are you doing?

As of September, I am the Artistic Assistant of Mid-Columbia Ballet in Richland, a youth company under the direction of Debra Rogo. My role includes choreographing, running company rehearsals, and initiating a new arts education program in area schools. I also teach in the school (Tri-Cities Academy of Ballet) which is operated in the same building and is under the same direction. The students and staff are wonderful and I’m very lucky and grateful to have found this opportunity. Since leaving Chicago in May I have traveled throughout the Northwest, including Portland and Seattle, teaching workshops and summer courses.

After the shock (and multiple shock waves) of job loss, I’ve thought through many different career scenarios. My career trajectory hasn’t fully emerged, but dancing and performing is still an important expression for me. In what way that will manifest, I have yet to discover.

What do you miss about Luna Negra?

I miss all of the artists that made up the company. It’s heartbreaking to not have them to share inspirations with, grow and laugh with, and share such a deeply artistic experience with. It’s also beautiful and wonderful to remember the INCREDIBLE things that we did and created together. I miss having an artistic home, a place where I knew every day that I was going to search for the things that were impossible to say with words.

What was special about Luna? What did it mean for you to be a “Lunatic”?
Gustavo saw things in me that I did not know where there and those three years represent a turning point in the way I view myself, the world, and dance. Learning from Gustavo meant finding and losing myself over and over again, and allowing both change and individuality each moment. Gustavo guided dancers on their own journey, while bringing everyone together on his own. That’s a remarkable gift that very few people, let alone artists, have, and it is what made Luna special.

Where Are They Now? Luna Negra’s Christopher Bordenave

Dancer Christopher Bordenave.

Having worked with Nacho Duato, Alonzo King, Desmond Richardson, and of course, Luna Negra Dance Theater‘s Gustavo Ramirez Sansano, it’s not surprising that after Luna closed its doors, Christopher Bordenave landed on his feet.

Were are you now?

I am currently in San Francisco, CA through the fall, but the majority of my things are in Los Angeles.

What are you doing now?

Since Luna’s closure I moved back home to Los Angeles. I am currently dancing with Zhukov Dance Theatre, a project based dance company in San Francisco, and I am also working for BODY TRAFFIC which is a contemporary based repertory company in Los Angeles. Both company’s schedules are pretty flexible, so I have been blessed enough to juggle back and forth between them.

What do you miss about Luna?

I miss everything about Luna…the people, the direction, the repertory. There was no other dance company in the states doing the type of work we were doing. Gustavo allowed every choreographer that came to work with us during my time at Luna, the utmost freedom to create whatever they wanted. Usually companies are looking for something specific to be able to market and sell to presenters, but we were free from those restrictions, which in turn allowed truly remarkable work to emerge.

What was special about Luna? What did it mean to be a “Lunatic”?

Dancing Gustavo’s work on stage was the first time I truly felt like I was a part of FINE art. Being a “Lunatic” was like nothing else I’ve ever experienced while training or working professionally. I have never felt more love and comfort from the people that I shared the space with like I did there. Gustavo shifted my whole paradigm on dance and turned me into an artist. I can be very cerebral at times and get lost in my thoughts throughout the work day which is hard for most directors/choreographers to work with, but Gustavo understood me. He was patient with me and allowed me to be a part of his genius vision, along with all of the other brilliant “Lunatics,” which I am forever grateful for.

Where Are They Now? Luna Negra’s Nigel Campbell

Dancer Nigel Campbell. Photo by Cheryl Mann.

When Luna Negra Dance Theater put its dancers on an extended hiatus last spring, Nigel Campbell was the first one to secure a new gig. RB spoke with him after he settled at his new job/home. Here’s an update on what he’s up to.

Where are you?

I live in Gothenburg, Sweden.

What are you doing now?

I am dancing at the Gothenburg Opera DansKompani. I began here about two weeks after Luna announced its extended hiatus. I was very fortunate to be able to move to another job so quickly. I feel very blessed.

What do you miss about LNDT?

The PEOPLE. What a great group we had. [It was] a wonderful collection of individuals…and we were always encouraged to bring our individuality out so we could constantly learn from each other. I miss Gustavo (Ramirez Sansano) terribly, although we are still in contact. I miss being in the studio with him vibe-ing and creating.

What were some of your favorite works?

“Not Everything”…a group piece. It was visually, musically, and architecturally gorgeous! The process flowed very smoothly. It just came together, really relaxed, really unforced. It also contained some of the fastest dancing I’ve ever had to do in my life.

“Toda una Vida” was Gustavo’s first creation as director of Luna. [It was] a tour de force 20-minute duet with some of the most complex partnering I’ve ever done or seen. It remains the most challenging piece I’ve ever had to dance. It also has the most sophisticated and deep understanding of musicality I’ve ever seen to that piece of music (Ravel’s “Bolero”).

“Carmen.maquia” was Gustavo’s evening-length abstract take on “Carmen”. It was quite simply a masterpiece.

“Walk-in” by Fernando Melo, who is my rehearsal director here in Gothenburg. I think he made an exquisite piece of contemporary dance on us and my only regret is that we only got to dance it once. My fear is that it will be lost and no one else will ever get to see this absolutely gorgeous piece.

What was special about LNDT? What did it mean to be a “Lunatic”?

Again, what was most special about Luna was the artists who gave their hearts and souls to it. To be a Lunatic meant you knew you were at the ground of something, that you were a part of building something that could have a legacy. We were always very aware of that. We made so many sacrifices because we believed in the potential of the company under Gustavo’s leadership. We were willing to go above and beyond, because we could feel how truly special what we were doing was. We were a company that didn’t focus on the great master works of the past, but went boldly into the unknown and tried to discover what the next step for contemporary dance was. We were risk takers and hard workers, collaborators, not just receivers. We were active participants in what was being created. We were all part of the legacy we were trying to build. What an incredible journey we were able to go on together.

It’s hard for me to comprehend that all the work we put so much of ourselves into, all of the sacrifices we made, are now just memories. Life goes on and we will all continue to make great and relevant art. Life is crazy and I’ve learned from this that truly, in a moment, EVERYTHING can change and that you always have to be ready. I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to be a Lunatic. It has shaped me in so many ways. I am so incredibly and remarkably blessed that I was in the right place at the right time.

Dancer Spotlight: Nigel Campbell

GöteborgsOperans Danskompani dancer Nigel Campbell.

A couple of weeks can make all the difference. Right after a well-received March performance of Luna Negra Dance Theater‘s Made in Spain, dancer Nigel Campbell found himself out of work. The company announced the dancers would be put on an extended hiatus effectively making the current dancers at least temporarily unemployed. Little did we know that Campbell was planning to leave at the end of the season and quickly convinced his new boss, GöteborgsOperans Dankompani Artistic Director Adolphe Binder, to let him join the Swedish contemporary company early. “Initially she told me no, because it was pretty much the end of the season” he said. “She wrote me back two days later and said I could come on as a cover and start learning things for next season. I’ll always be indebted to her.” After a quick pit stop home in New York, Campbell moved to Sweden and just danced in his first performance with the company earlier this month as a replacement for dance/choreographer/rehearsal director Fernando Melo who is on paternity leave (yes, they get that!).

RB spoke with Campbell via Skype on a Sunday evening after he got settle in Sweden. Here are excerpts from our conversation:

Alright, I’m recording this shit. Hi! How are you? What time is it there?

12:30. I had kind of an easy day and I have tomorrow off since they had the show today. I just went to see it. It was absolutely incredible. I’ve only been here two weeks. Everything has happened so fast that I haven’t had time to process it. I’m waiting for the moment to hit me. It’s kind of a blessing.

Why that company? How did you get there?

I was going to join the company next season. It wasn’t official yet and I had just spoken to Gustavo [Ramirez Sansano] about it a few days before everything happened, so I hadn’t made it public yet. I had been aware of the company for quite some time and it has a really good reputation and recently has shifted its focus to very contemporary work and creation and lots of risk taking. Of course at Luna we worked with Fernando [Melo] twice. I had a good rapport and relationship with him. The opportunity presented itself for me to be here and I thought it was a really good opportunity and new information, because it’s really different. It’s an institution. It’s an opera house and there are 40 dancers. It’s completely different from the way I was working at Luna. I was very happy, but I’ve always had this idea for my life where I have lots of different experiences and try on lots of different hats and live in different places. What I’ve always liked about dance is that you get to have so many lives. I’m young and I want to try on lots of different hats. This hat presented itself and it was something I needed to take advantage of. I’m still processing everything. It happened so fast.

How is your body?

Ohhhh. My body is in a bit of shock. I had two weeks to get everything in order to move here. There was a move from Chicago to New York and then New York to Sweden. I didn’t really have time to dance during those two weeks and I was lugging around suitcases and boxes and I’m jet lagged. I jumped into rehearsals here and it’s a very physical piece as well and completely different way of moving from what I’ve been focusing on for the past three years. My body is quite in shock. It hurts, but it’s good. We have physical therapy and massage therapy every day. My body is starting to get used to things. Everything is starting to settle, which is nice.

Talk about Mr. Nigel. Where did you grow up? When did you start dancing?

I’m from the Bronx. I started dancing at a studio in Brooklyn, because my mother’s family is from Brooklyn and we went to church in Brooklyn. This school was affiliated with the church that I went to. I was about 12, which is quite late to start dancing.  They trained me to get into LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts which is the ‘Fame’ school. The school the movie was based on. That was my introduction to formal training. I was taking ballet every day and the Graham technique. That was when I started to become a bit more serious about my training. I felt like I had a lot of catching up to do, so I really pushed myself. It was dancing all the time and taking four or five classes a day. Also, because I don’t have a natural body for dance. I’m not very flexible. I worked really hard and I graduated from La Guardia and went to Juilliard. That was a very intense experience. I call it the best/worst experience of my life. It’s everything. It’s so full. When people ask, ‘how was it at Juilliard? Was it amazing?’ It was amazing. I cried and I laughed and I met people who are my closest friends in the world. I learned so much, but it’s difficult. They’re pushing you to be incredible. It takes a lot of work and dedication. There are a lot of big fish from small ponds all coming together and you’re all really talented and different. It can be difficult. This is also really beautiful. I went there for four years. It has informed a lot of my choices throughout my life.

And after you graduated?

I graduated in 2008 and moved to Germany. I danced for Marguerite Donlon for two years. That was my first job out of college. Maggie was awesome. I’d lived my entire life in NYC. It’s such a fast pace. I love the energy and fast pace, so when I moved to this small town in Germany, my whole life was flipped upside down in the most amazing way. Everything was new. I didn’t know anyone. I don’t know the culture. I don’t speak the language. I’ve never worked professionally. For the first time, I’m very far away from my family and friends. This was exciting. It was a chance for me to reinvent myself and decide who I was at that moment. At Juilliard, there’s an encouragement to explore Europe. There’s a lot of dancers from the school who are dancing in Europe. I spent all of this time worrying that no one would want me, but taking classes in Europe, I thought I could actually do this. I could be a professional. It was really fresh and new and amazing. Maggie nurtured me and built my confidence. I got to dance a lot when I was there. There were 20 of us. She believed in me. She put me on stage. I grew a lot in those two years. I had to discover my own identity.

What brought you to Chicago?

I heard about Gustavo while I was dancing in Europe. He was already quite famous in Europe. I was on my first summer holiday, my first vacation. I went to visit my friend in Madrid, he was dancing for Nacho Duato. I went to a show. It was a two-billed program. One by Nacho and one by Gustavo. I saw this and immediately fell madly in love with him. I didn’t know him. I didn’t know anything about him. I thought why don’t I know him? This is everything I love about dance and nothing that I hate. I went home to New Yrok and talked to my friend Sarah, who was dancing with Luna Negra under Eduardo Vilaro. She said she thought Gustavo was taking over and in the fall it was announced that he was taking over the company. I didn’t have his email or anything, so I sent him a message on Facebook. I was apprehensive, because it seemed so unorthodox. I told him I’d been following his work and I’d love the opportunity to physicalize his work on my body. I sent him a link to some video clips, but I didn’t expect anything from him. I felt in my spirit that I needed to let him know how I felt. He wrote back quickly. I worked with TitoYaya [Sansano's Project in Spain] for a week. It was really difficult. After the audition in Chicago in April I was 100% down with him and ready to be a part. I finished the season in Germany and moved to Chicago to dance for Gustavo at Luna Negra. He delivered everything that I ever dreamed and expected and wanted him to deliver. He pushed me further that I thought anyone could push me. He demanded a lot of me. It was difficult and frustrating at times. It was scary. It was a different system. I’d never worked professionally in the States. I didn’t understand the complicated health care system. I didn’t understand the lay off system. There was a thing about the way he was working and creating and about his work that felt very much a part of who I am. It was difficult. Gustavo’s body can do these crazy things. My body can’t do that. It was a struggle to get inside of the work in my body. He gave us the freedom to discover his work in your own body. I connected to his physicality, to his musicality, his speed. Some of the actual physical things I had to figure out. There was an intellectual process behind it as well.  In looking at his work, there’s something so architectural. It’s so structural and everything fits together.  He sees it in his head. You can see it working in his head. I was 23 when I started with him. To work with someone that I really believed in and considered a genius…he opened me. He never allowed me to excuse myself. He would say, ‘I’m not going to let you say that you can’t do it. You have to figure it out. I believe that you are talented and intelligent enough to find out how to make it work.’ It was harsh, but always with a cushion of love and support. In that way, he pushed me further than anyone else ever has.

Is there anything you’d like to say “one the record” about what happened at Luna?

It was rough. I don’t think anyone planned it or wanted it to happen. It wasn’t a great situation for anyone. I don’t have any ill will toward the company. I wish Luna Negra all the best in the future. What I take from it is three years of really incredible work and really incredible people. I think we created something special.  I’m honored that I got to be part of something so special. I stand behind Gustavo 100%. I believe in his work and his vision and his artistic direction. That is always where my loyalty and where my conviction has been. I feel that my relationship with him is stronger and I’m thankful that he’s been so supportive of me and that he’s been so understanding. He’s been in my corner this entire time. I will always be part of the Luna Negra family and it will always be a part of my life. I really do wish them the best. I stand by Gustavo. It was time for me to move on and make a change. That was my personal decision. I think I’m a very positive person. I always try to look on the bright side of things. We all falter sometimes and our emotions get the best of us. After some time to think, I’m such a better person, a better dancer, a better artist three years later after having my experience in Chicago with Luna Negra. I’m really grateful for that. My love and loyalty and devotion is with Gustavo. I think he’s brilliant,. I think he’s the voice of a generation. He has the talent and intelligence to move the art form forward. I’m grateful that I got to have that experience. I’m really blessed. All I can do is be thankful for my life.

 

 

 

 

 

Breaking News: Luna Negra Ceasing Operations

Luna Negra Dance Theater just announced it is ceasing operations due to financial constraints – effective immediately – until further notice. As you know, the company has been in turmoil for the past couple of months with laying off dancers and the exit of Artistic Director Gustavo Ramiraz Sansano, but this is the worst possible outcome. Very sad news.

Here’s a statement by Board President Jorge Solis from the press release:

“Luna Negra is very proud of having provided a wonderful medium in which to celebrate and showcase Latino inspired dance in the city of Chicago.  Sharing the rich Latino culture has been a source of pride and inspiration to all those involved with the company over the last 14 years. It’s been tremendously difficult to come to the conclusion to cease operations, but the financial reality could not be avoided any longer,” said Jorge Solis, Board President for Luna Negra Dance Theater.

Breaking News: Luna Negra Dance Theater

Gustavo Ramíraz Sansano. Photo by Jonathan Mackoff.

As of today, Gustavo Ramírez Sansano is stepping down as Artistic Director of Luna Negra Dance Theater. He will still remain involved with the company artistically. In May, the board will begin an international search to replace him as Artistic Director.

A sad start to the week. His childlike spirit and artistic vision will be greatly missed. Kisses and kudos. Here’s some of the fantastic work created during his time in Chicago with Luna.

Luna Negra’s Made in Spain

Luna Negra's Kirsten Shelton & Filipa Peraltinha. Photo by Cheryl Mann.

Split-second shifts and fluid technique ride on thoughtful, thought-provoking choreography set on articulate, authentic artists. Made in Spain, the latest and greatest from Luna Negra Dance Theater (LNDT), performed last Saturday night at the Harris Theater, once again proved the company’s stellar reputation for presenting electric, entertaining and enthralling works. Under the direction of Gustavo Ramírez Sansano, this small group of dancers is thriving and continues to push the boundaries of local contemporary dance. I fear I sound like a broken record, but if you haven’t seen LNDT lately, you MUST go see this group dance!

In the opening piece, Fernando Hernando Magadan’s 2009 Naked Ape, the elastically eloquent Eduardo Zûñiga manipulated the dancers’ actions manually and sometimes verbally through a made up language. “Gibberish, but with a specific idea in the head,” Zuñiga told me. Starched white clothing-like set pieces dotted the stage, one installed with a live mic that when touched by Zuñiga sent the dancers into spasmodic improvisations. Strong performances by all (Zuñiga, Nigel Campbell, Mónica Cervantes, Kirsten Shelton and the continually-impressive Christopher Bordenave) solidify this work as a staple in their rep.

A world premiere by Cervantes, Presente, set to Max Richter’s “recomposed” version of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons delightfully muses on what it means to be present, not stuck in the past or focusing on the future. Fast-moving backward sequences and stunning solo-work by Shelton fly by as little black balls fall out of a hanging abstract white hourglass. The dancers move in and around the balls, even making a separate pile, perhaps trying to save or stop time. Cervantes’ prowess as an aggressive, powerful dancer is matched by her choreographic curiosity and detailed dancemaking.

A new work for LNDT by Magadan closed the show with live, on-stage music from the fantastic Turtle Island Quartet. A chandelier of music sheets and Labanotation notes hanging above the string group, with more crumbled under their feet created a beautiful backdrop for the dancing in Royal Road. The ensemble of dancers again show technical brilliance blending with the musicians in a wonderful riff on the relationship of music and dance. Special mention goes to newcomer Filipa Peraltinha, an outstanding to the LNDT family.

Chicago Dance 2012 Highlights

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre dancers in "Revelations". Photo by Christopher Duggan.

Nothing says end-of-the-year-review time quite like the last day of the year…am I right? My proficiency in procrastination aside, now is the time to reflect on the past year and look forward to new, exiting surprises in the next. Here’s my Dancin’ Feats year-end review for Windy City Times that came out last week noting 12 memorable performances/performers of 2012, but I wanted to add a few more things.

Looking back at my notes and programs from the year (yes, they are all in a pile, I mean filing system, in the corner of my bedroom) I am so thankful for all the wonderful dance I get to see. Narrowing it down to 12 “top whatevers” was not an easy task for there were too many people and performances to name. Here are some other performances that are still in my thoughts:

Alvin Ailey Dance Theater in Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16. Although Revelations is still amazing, seeing this company in more contemporary work was refreshing. And the audiences at Ailey performances are a show unto themselves.

Paris Opera Ballet and American Ballet Theatre‘s performances of Giselle were stellar for their star-studded casts on opening night, but ABT’s Sunday matinee with real-life couple Yuriko Kajiya and Jared Matthews stole my heart.

Luna Negra Dance Theater founder Eduardo Vilaro brought Ballet Hispanico to town with former Chicago dancers (Jamal Callender, Jessica  Wyatt and Vanessa Valecillos) back for a rep show at the Dance Center to much acclaim, while current director Gustavo Ramirez Sansano continues to take the company in new and fascinating directions.

The Seldoms, in their tenth year, deconstructed the Harris Theater and traipsed around the world to collaborate with WC Dance in Tapei, while tackling the ongoing arguments around climate change with artistic director Carrie Hanson’s trademark wit and intelligence.

Before Hubbard Street Dance Chicago turned 35 this fall, it said goodbye to retiring, beloved dancer Robyn Mineko Williams. Artistic Director Glenn Edgerton completed his goal of presenting all five master European choreographers in the rep with the acquisition of Mats Ek’s Casi-Casa. Ek’s work took the company to a new level, but I’m still haunted by their dancing in William Forsythe’s Quintett from the summer series.

The Joffrey Ballet performed Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated in their regular season and at the Chicago Dancing Festival. I was proud to be an official CDF blogger for the second year in a row. New to the fest this year was Giordano Dance Chicago, now celebrating 50 years. And Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago hit 40!

River North Dance Chicago dancer Ahmad Simmons deserves a mention for his work in Ashley Roland’s Beat, particularly his performance on the Pritzker Pavillion stage in Millenium Park.

Special thanks to Catherine Tully of 4dancers.org for her continuous and generous encouragement and insight. Thanks lady!

Dance writing-wise, I’m thankful for the opportunity to write for Front Desk Chicago, Windy City Times, 4dancers and Dance Magazine.

I could go on (and on…), but tomorrow is a new year and I look forward to seeing more incredible dancing and dancers in our most awesome city. Happy New Year!

 

Luna Negra: A New Adventure for Moniquilla

Lunatics Kirsten Shelton, Mónica Cervantes & Eduardo Zuñiga. Photo by Jonathan Mackoff.

The irrepressible, glass-wearing, fierce friend Moniquilla is back with her friends Matias and Veronica for another magically crazy adventure in the second year of the Luna Niños Family Series presented by Luna Negra Dance Theater. Last year had the trio up against the evil Nico, but with a little help from the audience and a lot of laughter, he turned into one of the good guys. This year Moniquilla enlists his help to find a missing Matias in Moniquilla and the Moon Monster.

The original Moniquilla story (Moniquilla and the Thief of Laughter) was the brainchild of Luna Negra Artistic Director Gustavo Ramírez Sansano for Titoyaya Dance Project in 2008. This year’s installment is written, directed and choreographed by company member Eduardo Zuñiga. He also created the soundscape and set design working with illustrator Patricia Marín Escutia and lighting designer Jared B. Moore. With a running time of an hour, this is the first full-length production with Zuñiga at the helm. Sansano liked the work Zuñiga made for the company’s in-house choreography showcase last at the MCA, Luna Neuva, as well as his work for DanceWorks Chicago‘s Dance Chance and wanted to give him a shot at developing the Moniquilla storyline. “We used to joke in Spain that the next one would be in space,” said Sansano. “I didn’t know how to do it, but Eduardo figured it out.”

Zuñiga, 27, is up for the challenge. He’s a natural running rehearsals at their State Street studio and flashes a mischievous grin when talking about the show. He won’t give away all the secrets – there is, of course, a surprise plot twist! – but will divulge the action revolves around an alien and The Book of Magic. Injuries to company dancers may force him to jump in and perform, but for now, he’s enjoying working with his peers on this contemporary, family-friendly tale of magic, friendship and fun.

Illustration by Patricia Marín Escutia.

Luna Negra Dance Theater presents Moniquilla and the Moon Monster at the Ruth Page Center, 1016 N. Dearborn, Friday, Nov. 30 at 7 pm and Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 1-2 at 3 pm.

Tickets are $15; visit www.lunanegra.org or call 312.337.6882.

 

Luna Negra’s “Reunion”

Luna Negra dancer Eduardo Zuniga in Fernando Melo's "Bate". Photo courtesy of The DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, this Saturday, October 13, Luna Negra Dance Theater brings a three-work program to the Harris Theater. The shows title, Reencuentros, or “reunions”, is just that on several levels. A revisiting of Fernando Melo’s 2005 work Bate, which the company performed in 2010; a reuniting of Melo with the Luna dancers for collaboration; and a return to choreographic roots for Artistic Director Gustavo Ramírez Sansano. His new work 18 + 1 anchors the performance between Melo’s earlier Bate and a current collaboration with the company. “Last year was the 18th year of my work, since I started putting things on the stage,” Sansano says. “Last year wasn’t the right moment, so the ‘plus one’. I wanted to make a point with 18, because that’s when you’re a grown up.”

Also growing up is Luna Negra, the company. This season, ten contracted dancers, plus nine apprentices are on the roster, creating a strong foundation to expand and explore. Unfortunately for audiences, veteran Luna performer Veronica Guadalupe will dance her final show with the company on Saturday, although she will still act as rehearsal director. Sansano has been planning this show for a while. “When I talked to Fernando to do Bate (in 2010), that was an introduction of his work to get to the point we are at now,” he says from the Ballet Chicago studios on State Street. “That was the first meeting, now is the re-encounter.”

The Brazilian-born Melo, is currently a dancer, choreographer and rehearsal director at GöteborgsOperans Danskompani in Sweden, while also traveling the world setting his works – a job, he admits, leaves little time for sleep. “Life gets a little busy sometimes,” he says. “I work every day until 6:00 p.m., then my other job starts. I’m a night person, so I get a lot done in the evenings.” Melo took six weeks off to come to Chicago and work with Luna Negra (he’d been here for five when I spoke with him earlier this week). His assistant/repétiteur Stephan Laks and set/costume designer Markus Pysal came with him to aid in resetting Bate and creating Walk-In. The world premiere is finished aside from last minute tweaking. “With a collaboration like this, it’s not ready when you can’t put things in anymore, it’s ready when you can’t take anything else out.”

The title Walk-In, also has multiple meanings: a walk-in closet (“the dancers have to walk into the set for the action to begin”), as well as the new age meaning of when a soul or spirit departs a body and is replaced by a new one. Melo says the initial departure point for starting the collaborative in-studio process was the mundane routines of everyday life. “The theme has been, not only the routines, but the mental state or the emotions that are behind our daily routines. What is actually going on in our mind, while we’re in the midst of our daily routine.” he says. “The mundane itself may not be very exiting to put on stage, but what lies behind those activities, I find very interesting. It’s a very human piece.”

While Melo digs into the meaning behind the ordinary, Sansano goes for the simple.”This one is going back to basics,” he says of 18 + 1. “It’s just music and dance. The celebration, for me, is the perfect marriage between dance and music, where both of them make each other. We give sight to to music and the music gives us sound for our bodies.” His trademark humor, detailed nuance and lightening fast moves are on full display here.

Sansano couldn’t be happier working with Melo, who he says will definitely be back to work with the company in the future. “I’ve seen the process and it’s [Walk-In] probably, I believe, the best creation for the company,” says Sansano. “It shows how we’ve grown in a real way. Everything was a process and we wouldn’t have gotten here if it weren’t for everything we’ve gone through. It’s the result of these two years of work. It’s like, ok, we’re here.”

Catch a sneak peek into the rehearsal process:

Luna Studio: Reencuentros

Luna Negra Dance Theater presents Reencuentros, Saturday, October 13 at 8 pm at the Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph. Tickets are $25-$65. Call 312.334.7777 or visit www.lunanegra.org.