If you missed the first weekend of FlySpace, shame on you. But here’s your second chance. Program two of FlySpace, the buzzed about “resource-sharing consortium” of our four female artistic directors, Margi Cole, Jan Bartoszek, Michelle Kranicke, and Joanna Rosenthal and their respective dance companies enters phase two of its two week run at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.
If you’re still under a rock as far as what FlySpace consists of, let us shed some light for you: FlySpace is a resource-sharing consortium conceived and launched after a meeting with Marcia Festen, director of Chicago-based funder collaborative Arts Work Fund. A part of Chicago Cultural Center Presents, the four women align with the Department of Cultrual Affairs and Special Events in their desire to build capacity in the arts. Sharing resources and forging new paths in the ever exciting world of technology, the project has plans to build a model that will endure; A model with shared audiences, resources, and goals, but with strictly individual artistic ideas and ventures.
Weekend one, with performances by Joanna Rosenthal’s Same Planet Different World and Jan Bartozsek’s Hedwig Dances proved to be an exciting first experience for audiences seeing a show on the Pritzger stage, inside-out. Sitting in the choral balcony and on the stage where we are acconstomed to seeing the performers (think summer time, live music venue), we got to step inside, behind the massive glass walls and see what the performers see on those hot summer nights. Looking out at the city sky line and the massive lighting grid, the sun sets into a purple sky while dancers are illuminated by warm, yellow light.
Program two begins with Margi Cole’s adaption of a previous work by Nana Shineflug, Sufi Tales. Cole’s adaption, My Sufi Tale offers light-hearted humor while exposing her vulnerabilities and promises to be a hit in its return to the stage.
Also presented by Cole is Moving Stories, seen before with ten dancers. This adaption sees us with seven dancers, all who bring new stories and new energy to the piece. Rooted in the ideas and feelings about moving (in all senses of the word), the piece opens as dancer Maggie Koller speaks to the audience: “In my beginning is my end.” Dancers drift into the space with Koller and the many stories of each dancer’s movement begin to unfold. Different from Hedwig Dances’ athletic, mechanical handling of bodies, seen last week, Cole implements her signature weight-bearing style: more gentle as dancers take care with the bodies they manipulate, acknowledging that there are people inside those bodies. As Shannon Edwards tells her story, her association with the smell of her partner and its lingering in the hallway of their home, dancers shift on the floor, sliding, crawling, and jutting; creating an affect to suggest her feet, constantly shifting on sand, ever-changing. Their smooth movement pulls attention and seems an importnat image as the groundscape of the story.
The piece ends with a somber tone as the questions we have been presented remain unanswered: “What is home?”, “Is it a place, possessions, people, feelings?”, “What happens when we move away from physical-place-home?”, “How do we learn to define home as mental place?”
Cole turns her head to say, “Kinda sad, isn’t it?” As an audience member, emptiness is present, but so is wonderment, curiosity, and yearning.
Shifting during intermission, Artistic director of Zephyr Dance, Michelle Kranicke causes quite a stir. The crowd stands up as crews reconfigure the entire space.
Seats now facing the west wall of the Pritzger space, the audience is able to see into what would normally be forbiden “wing space”. Audience members sitting on the floor level of the space also have a new view of the west side of the balcony. A forty minute masterpiece entitled 40 minutes from november has been carefully crafted by Kranicke with careful consideration of each and every detail. Interludes of music spatter in and out of what seems to be cavern-like silence, allowing the audience to drift their focus through the space knowing the music is there, calling them back to attention every now and again. Kranicke elected these aspects so as to give choices, rather than trying to “retrofit the work into the space” in a manner that pollutes the clarity of the original idea.
“40 minutes from november is an investigation of three unrelated movement types: a linear assemblage of fundamental classroom exercises and found improvisational movement, a group investigation based on comedic walking routines and an overlapping parallel performance, an offstage movement allegory, lingering above in the choral loft of the Pritzker space,” says Kranicke. Dancers employ stiff balletic port de bras (carriage of the arms), pedestrian walking, and use of the space, in ways that one is unable to look at all three dancers at the same time. Dancers employ awkward and funny movements, passes across the space, slides, gallops, walks, and a most memorable hands folded into the ribcage, fluttering: too small wings for a large, human-shaped moth.
Tickets for the final weekend of FlySpace are available here. Shows run Friday and Saturday, April 12 and 13 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, April 14 at 5 p.m.