Susan Marshall & Co open Dance Center’s 40th season

Susan Marshall & Co. in "Play/Pause".

Last weekend open the 40th season at the Dance Center of Columbia College. Mayor Emanuel declared Friday, September 20 Dance Center of Columbia College Day by?Mayoral Proclamation. Susan Marshall & Company opened the season with the world premiere of Play/Pause.

With six different and distinct dancers from the two petite women (one blonde, one brunette) to the tall, blonde gentleman with neo A Flock of Seagulls haircut, the piece seemed a hodge-podge of variety pulled from the 80s. One dancers sported just one sparkly sock as perhaps a nod to the King of Pop. The live onstage band played LOUD throwback rock music intermittently, the dancers and musicians teasing each other with a start/stop format indicated by the work’s title. The sound scape, which included pounding and running the mic over figurations of duct tape or on the plexiglass or wood, adding in the dancers’ voices or the ripping of the tape as a avant garde soundtrack, proved more interesting than the movement that was steeped with commonplace gestures.

There were some really interesting images created throughout the hour-long work like a man trying to keep his face lit in the plexiglass frame as a woman lowers it to the floor and back up again. A female duet of one count gestures, while intriguing at the start, went on too long.? A recurring step-touch, step-touch baseline for the dancers seemed to by pulled from a junior high dance or bar mitzvah, but would then turn into a lovely break-out solo or touching duet. Basically, it was uneven and I thought the props warranted more of my attention than the dancing, which is too bad. Interesting concepts, but perhaps fleshing out the movement sections more will make it more cohesive.

I felt like I was trapped in an Talking Heads video directed by David Lynch. It was at times cheesy, bizarre, beautiful, bright, funny and sad. The cast lined up at the front of the stage breathing heavily onto the plexiglass frames was a wonderful way to end, but by then, aided with a raging headache, I was ready for it to be over.

 

 

Mayoral Proclamation: Dance Center of Columbia College

Congrats to the Dance Center! Mayor Rahm Emanuel has officially declared Friday, Sept. 20 Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago Day in honor of the start of their 40th anniversary season. Text from the proclamation below:

PROCLAMATION

WHEREAS, dance is both a personal and public form of art and expression that has always been an integral part of many cultures the world over; and

WHEREAS, the interpretation of dance has continued to transcend social, political and economic barriers while acting as a major unifying force among citizens of the world; and

WHEREAS, it is through the gift of dance that we can combine music and movement along with the physical, spiritual and social qualities of our lives; and

WHEREAS, for decades, the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago has taught generations of inspired dancers and presented passionate, provocative pieces of choreography; and

WHEREAS, the Dance Center?s faculty, staff and students work tirelessly to showcase the art and power of dance; and

WHEREAS, the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago will host acclaimed choreographer Susan Marshall as she presents the world premiere of Play/Pause as the main event of its 40th Season Opening Celebration; and

WHEREAS, on September 20, 2013, the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago will mark the 2013-2014 season, its milestone 40th Season, with a number of thoughtful events and performances:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, RAHM EMANUEL, MAYOR OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, do hereby proclaim September 20, 2013 to be DANCE CENTER OF COLUMBIA COLLEGE CHICAGO DAY in recognition of the the official opening of the Dance Center?s 40th Season and encourage all Chicagoans to celebrate the gift of dance.

Dated this 18th day of September, 2013.

CDF 12: Celebration of Dance

Bolero Chicago. Photo by Cheryl Mann.

The Chicago Dancing Festival (CDF), a week-long series of free dance events, came to a close Saturday night on the Pritzker Pavilion stage in Millennium Park.? A large crowd turned out on a beautiful night to witness dance from some of the top companies in the country as well as artistry from fellow Chicagoans.? Festival co-founders Lar Lubovitch and Jay Franke addressed the audience and introduced a casually dressed Mayor Rahm Emanuel before the show began.? “Hey Chicago! Hey dance lovers!” The performance opened and closed with local talent: the After School Matters Hip Hop Culture Dance Ensemble with Nicholas Leicther’s Touch of Soul in honor of Maggie Daley and Bolero Chicago with Larry Keigwin’s homage to our sweet home city.

Nestled in between the two large local numbers was a mini tasting of the best of the best in the current dance scene.? Houston Ballet performed Mark Morris’ Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes with live piano accompaniment from Katherine Burkwall-Ciscon.? Dressed in comfy looking white blowsy tops and short leggings (can I get this in black?), the dancers skipped and skimmed across the stage in a light-footed romp that showcased Morris’ deftly musical choreography.? Two gala-esque performances by major ballet companies showed the range of classical ballet.? New York City Ballet stars Ana Sophia Scheller and Gonzalo Garcia dazzled in the show-stopping pas de deux from Marius Petipa’s? Don Quixote (1869). An early one-handed lift seemed to last forever and Scheller’s fouette run in the coda, featuring a double pirouette every second turn for the first 16 counts and one every third turn for the second half, had me jumping out of my seat.? Girl can turn.? Later, Sofiane Sylve and Vito Mazzeo from San Francisco Ballet danced Christopher Wheeldon’s pas de deux from Continuum (2002).? The couple brilliantly danced the Sleeping Beauty pas earlier in the week and proved they are just as stunning doing more contemporary work.

Two powerhouse companies represented the same kind of choreographic range in the modern/contemporary realm.? Martha Graham Dance Company performed an excerpt form Chronicle (1936), which they performed earlier in the week in its entirety.? Steps in the Street physically showed just how powerful women can be. ? Local favorite Hubbard Street Dance Chicago danced an excerpt of Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin’s Tabula Rasa (1986), giving an equally powerful performance in a more relaxed, freer style.

The Pritzker Pavilion is a wonderful outdoor venue that normally houses musical acts including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.? With that said, the seating isn’t ideally designed for viewing dance.? The seats are directly behind one another and on a very shallow raking. My apologies to the woman seated behind me for “driving her crazy” by moving my head from side to side to see.? Unless you’d like a detailed account of the woman’s hair cut and color in front of me, it was a necessary evil.

Congratulations to everyone that worked, volunteered or performed at CDF 12.? It was a wonderful week full of terrific dance that won’t soon be forgotten.? All free.? We are lucky Chicago.

 

Mayoral Proclamation #2

It’s seems our beloved Mayor Emanuel has been busy showing his love for dance.? On the heels of declaring this past Monday Bill Kurtis & Donna La Pietra Day for their contributions to the city’s arts and non-profit scene, he comes out with another proclamation making Friday, November 18, 2011 MERCE CUNNINGHAM DAY in Chicago!

This is to coincide with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company who will be in town November 18 and 19 performing at the Harris Theater (co-presented by the Dance Center at Columbia College) on the second to last stop on their Legacy Tour which kicked off two years ago.