WBEZ | performance http://www.wbez.org/tags/performance Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Who is the next great Chicago choreographer? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-10/who-next-great-chicago-choreographer-108899 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/QBW_MG_4028.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="(Hubbard Street Dance Chicago/Quinn B Wharton)" /></div><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-271bb232-a792-4f1a-927b-ed29b298b4b0">Robyn Mineko Williams does not know if she is a great choreographer, or even a good one. She is hesitant to take on the distinction so early in her career. But as an emerging Chicago choreographer, her public successes far outweigh any failures. And to see one of her works in person is to understand dance on its most visceral level. Never failing to create works that appear more like dance theater than just merely dance, Mineko Williams&rsquo; small output signals a choreographer on the rise. Her latest work, <em>Fluence</em>, in the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago <a href="http://www.hubbardstreetdance.com/index.php?option=com_k2&amp;view=proditem&amp;id=211:fall-series&amp;Itemid=58" target="_blank">fall program</a> at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance and runs through Sunday, Oct. 13.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>A 2013&ndash;14 Princess Grace Choreography Fellowship Award winner, <a href="http://www.robynminekowilliams.com" target="_blank">Mineko Williams</a> is from the city and her dance career flourished as a member of River North Dance Chicago before joining Hubbard Street Dance Chicago for 12 seasons. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s my people. It&rsquo;s my community,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Choreography is quite competitive in general and I feel taken care of and supported by Chicago.&rdquo;</span></p><p>Unlike other artistic communities, Chicago&rsquo;s dance community is one of the city&#39;s strongest and therefore, greatness does not seem to be a matter of if, but when. Chicago allows its performers to make work in an environment fueled by both their vision and a home-grown team of support.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-271bb232-a792-4f1a-927b-ed29b298b4b0">&ldquo;In a way, I feel that I have a lot of people with me,&rdquo; Mineko Williams said. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re supporting me as a growing artist. I just feel really lucky. I don&rsquo;t think that happens a lot.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-271bb232-a792-4f1a-927b-ed29b298b4b0"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/HSD130916_078.JPG" style="float: left;" title="(Hubbard Street Dance Chicago/Todd Rosenberg)" />Since premiering her first Hubbard Street Dance Chicago work <em>Recall</em> as part of the company&rsquo;s <em>danc(e)volve: New Works Festival</em> at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Williams has focused more on refining her choreography</span>.</p><p dir="ltr"><span>&ldquo;My goals are the same and hopefully my vocabulary is tightening up more and I&rsquo;m becoming more conscious of what I like to do and whether or not it works,&rdquo; she said. </span></p><p>Visually, <em>Fluence</em> is a work of technological and mechanical appeal. Featuring five men and four women, the dancers&rsquo; movements appear not unlike computer glitches, never quite lovely but always methodical. An extensive use of hand gestures furthers that idea. Visually, they appear as if lacking control in their movements, as if their thoughts and actions are two distinct properties.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-271bb232-a792-4f1a-927b-ed29b298b4b0"><em>Fluence</em> is the physical manifestation of the mechanical process. Multiple functions are built into one process and when it does not function, what we get is something new, but still compelling. This doubles as a metaphor for how </span><span id="docs-internal-guid-271bb232-a792-4f1a-927b-ed29b298b4b0">Mineko </span><span id="docs-internal-guid-271bb232-a792-4f1a-927b-ed29b298b4b0">Williams works.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-271bb232-a792-4f1a-927b-ed29b298b4b0">Mineko Williams thrives on the insights she develops from those she works with, whether they are fellow dancers or creatives outside of her community. </span></p><p>&ldquo;Collaboration is something I love, to have other eyes there and to create something with other people,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>The list of collaborators for <em>Fluence</em> include composer/musician Robert F. Haynes, Brooklyn-based lighting designer Burke Brown, and fashion designer Hogan McLaughlin.</p><p>&ldquo;I like to surround myself with people who are on board, who have similar aesthetics as me,&rdquo; Mineko Williams said.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-271bb232-a792-4f1a-927b-ed29b298b4b0">The end result is a piece that speaks to a certain cinematic vision. The stage direction, lighting design, and multiple &ldquo;scenes&rdquo; taking place at once are not unlike a movie shot. Folks dance within the foreground and background, each performing different gestures, to create layers upon layers of activity. And like a great movie, audiences can expect to take feel something viscerally. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>&ldquo;You can&rsquo;t control people&rsquo;s opinions or tastes,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;A great compliment to me is if something sticks.&rdquo;</span></p><p><em>Hubbard Street Dance Chicago&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.hubbardstreetdance.com/index.php?option=com_k2&amp;view=proditem&amp;id=211:fall-series&amp;Itemid=58" target="_blank">fall series</a> runs through Oct. 13 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance.</em></p><p dir="ltr"><em>Britt Julious writes about race and culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 11 Oct 2013 07:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-10/who-next-great-chicago-choreographer-108899 Theaster Gates is Chicago's true artist http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-05/theaster-gates-chicagos-true-artist-107330 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/8d45dGates%20Headshot%202.jpg" style="width: 350px; height: 268px; float: right;" title="Theaster Gates (Image courtesy of Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago)" />Upon entering the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago&rsquo;s Kovler Atrium, audiences will find rows of pews from University of Chicago&rsquo;s Bond Chapel. The pews were removed in order to provide Muslim students a place to pray. Above the pews hangs a large-scale double-cross sculpture filled with household items such as umbrellas, dented cans for non-perishables, and wine glasses.</p><p>The installation will be activated with performances throughout the summer by artist Theaster Gates. The installation is titled <a href="http://mcachicago.org/exhibitions/next/all/316" target="_blank">13th Ballad</a> and intertwines concepts and theories, a familiar practice for the Gates. Here we see the relationship between religion, migration and accumulation. Gates&rsquo; work intervenes and it is this intervention that serves not as another example of gentrification, but of the possibilities of art in the face of despair.</p><p>Gates is a multidisciplinary artist, working with performance, sculpture, installation, and large-scale urban interventions. He received a degree in urban planning, but also studied ceramic. This combination of fields informs the multifaceted approach to his artistic practices. His works are not just objects. He manipulates, reconstructs, and activates them in order to breathe further life into the end result.</p><p>In 12 Ballads for Huguenot House (a work created in both Chicago and Kassel, Germany for dOCUMENTA (13)) and 13th Ballad, his work mimics Chicago itself. Chicago is a city on the precipice of two narratives. Which way will we go? Which way will we allow our buildings and schools and neighborhoods and people to go?</p><p>On the one end, there is the city of progress and prosperity. This is in some ways the surface Chicago. That does not exclude the very real lived reality of many Chicagoans who suffer little. But to those who have an intimate relationship with the parts of the city that are too often plagued with neglect, this is not the full story. On the other end, there is the city in decline.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ebfaf01.jpg" style="float: left; height: 449px; width: 300px;" title="12 Ballads (Image courtesy of Nathan Keay © MCA Chicago)" />In a conversation with Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev for a book on 12 Ballads for Huguenot House, Gates said, &ldquo;I spend a lot of my time asking: how can I activate places that have been neglected, underresourced?&rdquo; Gates&rsquo; work in large part deals with ideas of reconstruction and repurpose. What can be done with this? What is missing from this object&rsquo;s narrative? This is not just characterized through the philosophical. Rather, he literally reclaims materials to, if not recreate, then reiterate its value and historicity.</p><p>&ldquo;I realized that what I was interested in was not only found objects but also discarded knowledge &ndash; that there was a relationship,&rdquo; Gates continued. &ldquo;I was willing to take on the burden of not only the material waste but also the knowledge waste that was so disposable.&rdquo;</p><p>This first began with the purchase of his own home and studio, an abandoned store on Dorchester Avenue in the Grand Crossing neighborhood. His efforts later extended to purchasing more buildings in and around the area, repurposing them as archives and a cultural center. For 12 Ballads, Gates aimed to unite two unused buildings (one in Chicago, the other, built in the 19th century and located in Germany) by using parts of each to rebuild the other.</p><p>In Gates&rsquo; work, we see the importance of discovery and the challenge against abandonment.</p><p>&ldquo;Gates embraces two counterstrategies, reactivation and employment, not only to fuel his art practice but also to offer tangible and practical examples to civic agencies for reimagining neighborhoods such as his,&rdquo; said MCA Chief Curator Michael Darling in the essay, &ldquo;Theaster Gates: Rescue Me.&rdquo;</p><p>Most importantly, his work does not rely on just what is there, but also on what could be there. Theaster Gates is Chicago. In a city full of artists of a variety of different artistic practices, Gates rises above the rest to create multidisciplinary works that speak to the spirit, anxieties, and troubles of Chicago itself. That his prestige and success reaches beyond the limitations of this city speaks to the criticalness of his work. Gates both is Chicago and speaks in conversation with Chicago and the realities of the city. If Chicago is a city of &ldquo;potential,&rdquo; then Theaster sees it already. He sees it right now.</p><p>13th Ballad runs through October 16.</p><p><em>Britt Julious blogs about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 23 May 2013 11:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-05/theaster-gates-chicagos-true-artist-107330 Come watch me get my hair cut live onstage http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-03/come-watch-me-get-my-hair-cut-live-onstage-105921 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Scissor%20shot%202%20small.jpg" title="" /></div><p>So this is a new one: Thursday evening I will be interviewed while getting my hair cut live in front of an audience. It&#39;s Monique Madrid&#39;s show &quot;B*tch, I&#39;ll Cut You&quot; and I am the b in question this week. As I get snipped and interviewed, hilarious commentary will be provided by <span class="font_8">Kelsie Huff, Justin Kaufmann and Corey Rittmaster, plus enjoy a performance from She&#39;s Crafty, an all-female Beastie Boys tribute band. You can find out more <a href="http://www.moniquemadrid.com/#!bitch-ill-cut-you/c24lf">here</a>.</span></p><p><em><span class="font_8">Give me style ideas <a href="https://twitter.com/Zulkey">@Twitter</a></span></em></p></p> Wed, 06 Mar 2013 08:34:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-03/come-watch-me-get-my-hair-cut-live-onstage-105921 The wisdom of bodies, on stage http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/wisdom-bodies-stage-105035 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/body%20wisdom%20photo%20jennifer%20girard%202.jpg" title="Writers Donna Pecore and D. Kucha Brownlee in the Neighborhood Writing Alliance’s performance ‘Body Wisdom.’ (Photo by Jennifer Girard)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F75510179" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Our bodies store all kinds of knowledge and information, whether it&rsquo;s an old knee injury that flares up when it rains, muscles that develop their own memory, or the healing touch of a loved one.&nbsp;</p><p>The members of Chicago&rsquo;s Neighborhood Writing Alliance know this. For the last half year, the non-profit group &ndash; which helps adults in underserved neighborhoods write, publish and perform their own stories &ndash; has been focused on the topic of &ldquo;body wisdom.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s the theme of the forthcoming issue of their publication, <em>The Journal of Ordinary Thought</em>, and of a performance they staged back in December at Chicago Public Library. (More on that in a minute.)</p><p>You can think of body wisdom, loosely, as what our bodies know, although the NWA staged many brainstorming sessions and discarded many giant pads of white paper trying to come up with a shared definition, according to programming director Rachael Hudak.</p><p>&ldquo;There were different interpretations of what wisdom is and where it comes from, whether [it comes from] your ancestors, the house you grew up in, or physical interactions with your environment,&rdquo; she said in an interview.</p><p>These conversations led the group to some powerful, but often uncomfortable, places. Not all of the meanings carried by our bodies are pleasant or pain-free, nor are the judgments others can bring to our physical selves.</p><p>&ldquo;I could definitely see writers at the start of the workshops being shy writing about particular issues &ndash; illness and terminal cancer, weight issues and unemployment,&rdquo; Hudak said. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think [these issues] felt safe to present on stage.&rdquo;</p><p>But, she said, that changed as they talked and collaborated more and worked with storytelling artist Glenda Zahra Baker to plan their December performance. &nbsp;</p><p>For that event, Hudak and her colleagues created a mash-up of the work submitted by participating writers, then assigned lines to people who hadn&rsquo;t written them. That created a group identity and support structure, which Hudak thinks helped the participants build confidence.</p><p>&ldquo;People talked about being judged as fat and not feeling comfortable in their bodies,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;They felt incredibly brave to be up on stage talking about that and to have 12 writers around [them] supporting that.&rdquo;</p><p>You can hear and excerpt of the Neighborhood Writing Alliance&rsquo;s &ldquo;Body Wisdom&rdquo; performance in the audio above.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range"><em>Dynamic Range</em></a></em>&nbsp;<em>showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. The Neighborhood Writing Alliance performed at an event presented by Chicago Public Library in December of 2012. </em><em>Performers included Pennie Brinson,&nbsp;Baba Tony Brown,&nbsp;Debra Brown,&nbsp;Kucha Brownlee, Helena Marie Carnes-Jeffries,&nbsp;Robert Hare, Alfred Klinger,&nbsp;Allen McNair,&nbsp;Jeanette Moton, David Nekimken,&nbsp;Donna Pecore,&nbsp;Tinamaria Penn,&nbsp;Phyllis Roker,&nbsp;Delores Tolliver</em> <em>and Sharon Warner.</em> <em>Click</em>&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/neighborhood-writing-alliance-body-wisdom-104432"><em>here</em></a></em><em>&nbsp;<em>to hear the event in its entirety.</em></em></p></p> Sat, 19 Jan 2013 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/wisdom-bodies-stage-105035 Dionysus to Kokopelli: the sacred circle of 'theater in the round' http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-08-03/dionysus-kokopelli-sacred-circle-theater-round-90069 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-August/2011-08-04/5282797139_c672fb6cee.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Notwithstanding the 20th Century development of "theater in the round"--which often is in the square or oval--Western culture abandoned the circle as a primary theatrical shape some 2200 years ago, when the rising Roman civilization co-opted&nbsp; the waning Greeks. The most obvious feature of a Greek theater was the perfectly circular space at the very center of things, a space the Greeks called the orchestra, or "dancing place." It had nothing to do with a group of musicians playing instruments (although they were there, too), but with the chorus who sang, chanted and danced.</p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="caption" height="375" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-04/5282797139_c672fb6cee.jpg" title="A Greek theater in Apollonia (Flickr/David Stanley)" width="500"></p><p>The Romans eliminated the chorus, and cut the orchestra in half, making it into a semi-circle of largely-decorative function. With the re-discovery of Roman architecture during the Renaissance, and the development of the first indoor theaters, Western Europe took the semi-circle--still called the orchestra--and elongated it into the horseshoe shape of classic theaters of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Today, we use the word orchestra to mean a group of instrumentalists, not dancers. In theater, they sit in the orchestra pit between the stage and most expensive seats on the main floor of the theater, the orchestra seats.</p><p>But the circle remains a seminal performing space in virtually all of the world beyond Broadway, London's West End, the boulevard theaters of Paris and opera houses everywhere.</p><p>Think of a three-ring circus. Think of a circle dance, which might be found anywhere from a hoedown to a tribal warrior dance or fertility rite, to a folk dance such as the hora or tarantella.</p><p>I've been reminded recently of the fundamental importance and power of the circle in connection with performance, as I've hiked and horsebacked through Anasazi ruins in the desert southwest, climbing into kivas and witnessing Native American dancers. The primary shape is the circle. In creating the first purpose-built theater buildings (open air though they were), the Greeks adapted the circle from earlier, more primitive rites going back to the most primordial storytelling and spiritual practices conducted around a fire.</p><p>The dance around the fire, the story told around the fire, the prayer ritual around the fire: religion, music, dance and theater all began together as one thing, as a way to explain that which could not be explained. It's been the same in every culture on earth, living or dead. Only later--much later--did the performing arts become something separate from religious ritual, and far too often a source of suspicion for those calling themselves pious.</p><p>Why a circle around a fire? Think of a primitive, pre-historic community. Fire is good, and probably sacred, because it's an essential of life and of security. Your family, tribe or clan sits around the fire at night not only because it provides light and warmth, but because you can see the faces of people you know and trust. Even more, the circle allows the people opposite you to see anything that might be coming out of the dark at your back, and you serve the same security function for those across from you. The circle--quite literally the ring of fire--becomes the most important symbol of community cohesion and ceremonial activity.</p><p>From the circle around the fire to the orchestra ancient and the orchestra contemporary, may the circle be unbroken. From primitive stories and rites to the stories of the modern stage and rituals associated with it (tearing a ticket, reading a program, the lights going down, the curtain calls), may the circle be unbroken. From Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, music and fertility, to Kokopelli, the flute-playing god common to all southwestern Native American tribes, may the circle be unbroken.</p></p> Wed, 03 Aug 2011 17:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-08-03/dionysus-kokopelli-sacred-circle-theater-round-90069 Why we choke when the pressure's on http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/why-we-choke-when-pressures <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2010-November/2010-11-04/norwood-kickRESIZE.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Choke. A person shines in practice, gets called in to deliver during that pivotal moment in the big game...and they can&rsquo;t. They choke.</p><p>Who knows why, maybe it&rsquo;s the bright lights? The pressure, or the trash talking? Whatever, they just can&rsquo;t bring it, they can&rsquo;t do their best.</p><p>So what explains the tendency to drop the ball &ndash; literally or figuratively &ndash; when the pressure&rsquo;s on?</p><p><a href="http://www.psychology.uchicago.edu/people/faculty/sbeilock.shtml" target="_blank">Sian Beilock</a>, associate professor of psychology at the University of Chicago, investigates in her new book <a target="_blank" href="http://www.amazon.com/Choke-Secrets-Brain-Reveal-Getting/dp/1416596178/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1288882812&amp;sr=8-1">Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To</a>.</p><p>WBEZ&rsquo;s Gabriel Spitzer talked with Beilock, who says there&rsquo;s a major concept that unlocks the secret of the choke. It&rsquo;s called working memory.</p><p>Sian Beilock will give a talk in Tinley Park this Sunday at the <a href="http://www.alumniandfriends.uchicago.edu/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=mjJXJ7MLIsE&amp;b=4725657&amp;ct=8654037" target="_blank">University of Chicago&rsquo;s Harper Lecture</a>.</p><p><em>Music Button: The Mercury Program, &quot;You Yourself Are Too Serious&quot;, from the CD A Data Learn The Language, (Tigerstyle) </em></p></p> Thu, 04 Nov 2010 14:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/why-we-choke-when-pressures