Dance Center Announces 40th Anniversary Season

Cloud Gate Dance Theatre dancer WANG Wei-ming in "Songs of the Wanderers". Photo by YU Hui-hung.

The Dance Center of Columbia College marks its 40th anniversary season with an exciting range of dance companies from around the world. Along with staple local and international modern companies, the season welcomes a number of hip hop and urban artists to the roster. Nods to the past, present and a look toward an interesting, if changing, future?

Notable touring company Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan returns to Chicago next March and will be co-presented with the Joffrey Ballet and the Auditorium Theatre. (*This performance will be at the Auditorium.) A French hip hop choreographer sets work on young dancers from Brazil for an explosive show by Compagnie Kafig performing in February 2014. Other traveling companies include multiple award-winning Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Philadelphia-based choreographer Raphael Xavier, as well as New York-based Susan Marshall and Company. A co-commissioned by the Dance Center will feature a work about migration out of Africa through the “lens of Moses stories” by Reggie Wilson/Fist & Heel Performance Group.

Local troupes to hit the South Loop stage include Mordine & Company Dance Theater, Same Planet Different World and Peter Carpenter Performance Project (joint program), and Khecari and The Humans (joint program). Also look for Family Matinee performances throughout the season.

For more information on the 2013-2014 season, visit colum.edu/Dance_Center.

Mordine & Company Diversify

Mordine & Company dancers. Photo by Cheryl Mann.

“I think of the audience as the other part of the art form. Without you, there is no art form,” Shirley Mordine said before her company’s shared program at Stage 773 Friday evening. Mordine & Co. took the stage along with flamenco group Clinard Dance Theatre?in an interesting mix of dance diversity. Mordine said the idea came from attending Dance/USA conferences and noticing how another host city (San Francisco) showed a more diverse section of their city’s companies than Chicago did the year we hosted. Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre shares the bill for Saturday and Sunday performances.

Mordine’s 2011 Life Speak about the art of storytelling got a revamp with a larger, vibrant cast. The original cast had seasoned dancers that were earthy and grounded in the work. The 2013 cast, which bumped up from six to eight dancers, boasted a younger cast with solid technique that made interesting choices to make the work their own. The stage sounded like sandpaper (a dancer who had performed their previously said it was painted wood, no marley) adding an extra audible texture to the work.

Clinard’s From the Arctic to the Middle East (Broken Narratives by an American Flamenco Dancer) was a blend of traditional flamenco with contemporary flavor, plus live musicians, a singer and a voice over telling a poem or story. The dancing and the live accompaniment were at the top of their game, but drowned out the voice over, so it was difficult to tell what the story was about. The three women seemed to represent different emotions (angry, sad, lost?) in different stages of life. A swaying hug between two dancers seemed maternal and comforting only to have one break away and spin out of control. Wendy Clinard showed amazingly fast footwork in a brilliant solo.

After a brief intermission, Mordine & Co. took the stage for the premiere of All At Once/Acts Of Renewal. Press materials state the new work is about “…the ability and need to process a deluge of information in the digital age”. Dressed in white with the women wearing bright colored leotards underneath, the costumes might have represented white noise or the sense that with so much information coming at you, you really can’t hear it at all. A slow-motion sequence perhaps suggests we all need to slow down. The short piece needs to flesh out more of the themes in the movement for better clarity and unity. It felt more like a work-in-progress than a premiere.

Final show of Mordine & Co. with Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre is this afternoon at 3 p.m. Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont. 773.327.5252.

Meeting at the Edge

Natya & Mordine collide in "Pushed to the Edge". Photo by Ravi Ganapathy.

Last Saturday, East met West choreographically on the stage in Skokie.? Supported in part by the Audience Architects MetLife Stages for Dance Initiative, Indian Bharata Natyam dance company Natya Dance Theatre and modern staple Mordine & Co. Dance Theater shared an evening of dance at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts.? The two stylistically divergent companies have worked together before and the respect for the respective art forms was evident in the performance.? A note from directors Hema Rajagopalan and Shirley Mordine in the front of the program talked about the collaboration.? “The choreography is undertaken with the understanding that culture is written by, in and through the body, and that how we move is in many respects who we are.”

Two works from early collaborations? started the show.? Two Rivers (2007) presented two duets side by side: one gestural, precise and percussive – the other earthy, grounded and present with the two rivers theme representing “the image of two bodies of water moving separately”.? The couples dancing in linear patterns intersected and passed each other like streams and seemed to be using the aesthetically different styles to say the same thing.? Lovely.? Sahridaya, from 2008, was a short, sweet duet to Philip Glass music with one dancer representing each company.? The stark contrast of the dancers, choreography and styles made for a really interesting study in form.? Ushasi Naha’s thin frame and pristine, placed approach against Mary Kate Sickel’s muscular, rounded, organic movement.

The title work – Pushed to the Edge – featured live musicians (barefoot) on stage.? Wings out, the stage deconstructed as well as folding chairs a la Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16 and video panels on the back scrim added a contemporary feel to the 15-dancer, all-female, cross-company piece. ? The groups with Natya in beige and Mordine in sage green (beautiful costumes for all pieces by the fabulous Jeff Hancock!) took turns center stage in a passive, progressive dance off joining together at the edge of choreographic similarities, but never fully crossing over to the other style.? It was wonderful to see so many talented dancers together in such a cohesive and unique work.