Saturday, March 23, 2013

Know Your Local Mid-Level Dance Companies

Know them and love them.

I move around a lot.  It's something I'm trying to change, but in this economy... you've got to be flexible or you might have to change careers.  That being said, the FIRST thing I do when moving into a new dance scene is familiarize myself with the local mid-level dance companies.

What is a local mid-level dance company?  Otherwise known as a regional, salon, boutique, or a limited-contract dance company, these local companies can range in talent and budget from newly-formed and relying on regular Kick-starter campaigns to a 40-year-old company that has a budget of at least $250,000 a year and makes one national or international tour a year.

Chicago is one of the best cities to find an ample supply of mid-level companies for dancers at any point in their career.  I find my perfect fit (for dancing or viewing) by dividing them into 3 categories:
1) For the young dancer just out of college.
2) For the dancers that don't want to leave the city, don't fit neatly into a large company here, and are forced to make or collaborate to make their own 'awesome'.
3) For the dancer that was tired of their demanding nationally/internationally-known touring company and transitioned into the role of choreographer so they could be their own boss.

These are surprisingly easy to figure out.  Just skim the artistic director and dancer bios: Where'd the director from?  How'd they get their start?  What's their mission?  How old are their dancers?  How'd their dancers end up in the city?  Then find your ideal company and start taking classes with them or see their next show.

For those of you interested in Chicago dance, these are the local companies I've seen in the last week:   I just caught Striding Lion Performance Group at Links Hall last weekend when they shared a show with Enid Smith Dance (former Cunningham dancer), this weekend I peeked into the Chicago Moving Company's 40th Anniversary Show at The Dance Center and regrettably missed THAW: A Night of Hot Ballyhoo, Link's big-ole' party and fundraiser.  But you take a look at their programs and you'll not only find dancers, but each of these events are populated with dancers who have their own scintillating side projects worth checking into.

If I weren't heading to Milwaukee to rehearse for my own side-project MKE FOLLIES taking place next Saturday, March 30th at Carte Blanche in Milwaukee, WI, I'd definitely go see the inimitable Canadian Compagnie Marie Chouinard at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Petronio at The Dance Center, Chicago

Okay, It's a little late... the show was last Saturday, but life happened.  Well, preparing to torture my students with Midterms happened, anyway.

So Petronio's Underland is the new top bar for my husband.  I've been dragging him to shows since 2006 and this is his favorite so far, although he did take issue with the music choice.

Nick Cave was the soundtrack for our journey through Underland and although I liked the music throughout the piece, my husband thought he just had too previous knowledge about Nick Cave to free himself of the spectre of it.

The thing that struck me hardest about Underland was how much the self masochistic perfectionism we imagine happens in rehearsal shows through in this particular performance.  It's magical.  You can imagine Petronio is the off-stage Hades, god of the Underworld, making his minions do his bidding whether they want to or not.  This compulsion to fall in line, the decision that is not ours to make, the idea that we are slaves to the dark world around us is illustrated in each song, each scene, each tightly regimented and belligerent phrase of movement.

I came out of the spell for "Stagger Lee".  That one didn't work for me (just too obvious).  But the rest... captivating.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


I have 2 tickets to the Petronio's Underland for tomorrow.  Now, as we all know, I don't do pointed feet, but every once and a while I make an exception for a well crafted show.

I happen to work at The Dance Center (big season and place for dance in Chi-town) and get my tickets for free in exchange for being the bright and smiling face full of snarky remarks every Tues-Thurs evening.  So I got a little preview since I'm putting in my hours this evening.

Let me tell you, there were screams and yells at curtain.  I guess Chicago approves.  See ya tomorrow, dancers.  I'll be in heels, so you know I think you're worth it.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Show Is Finished, But The Biggest Show Is Yet To Come...

So the show I performed in this weekend with Mordine and Company is over.  Thank you, thank you, I worked very hard, went on a cleanse (no booze, no candy - it's very complicated), and bitched to my husband 2 or 3 times about how stressed out I was.  All signs of a typical show weekend.  And I think it went well.  Actually, I'm quite pleased with myself.  I didn't fall on my ass once.  Now there's a hallmark of a successful run.

I did slip and slide a few times, but thankfully I'm like a freaking cat.  Not everyone knows this, but it's actually quite miraculous that modern dancers make it through a whole weekend of shows without stepping on someone, getting kicked in the head, falling down, or falling off of something.  I mean, have you seen us?  We're like, throwing ourselves all over the place at about 10 miles an hour.

Anyhoo, my fellow dancers danced so well, and we were told that we really looked cohesive and evenly matched (which is difficult in a regional dance company where turn-over can sometimes be high).  Clinard Dance Theater and Deeply Rooted Productions  were lovely too and we all enjoyed sneaking out of the dressing room to see them.

This Friday, I'm having a discussion with Shirley (our Artistic Director) about what's up next for me.  Here's the big news... I'm moving (AGAIN!?) to Washington D.C. with my husband for his job.  It's a good enough job where he's just got to take it.  It's the equivalent of me getting into Bill T. Jones.  I'd drop whatever I was doing and would leave so quick, your head would spin.

Washington D.C. will be my next big thing (or slightly smaller thing because the dance scene ain't so large) starting in late May.  I'm super creative, smart, and fun to be around, so tell your D.C. friends I'm a-comin' and to roll out the marley floor.  We'll tear it up once I get there.