Zephyr Dance Presents SHADOWS ACROSS OUR EYES Review – An Architectural Movement Experience

April 27th, 2018

For those of us who dream of loft living, intrigue is already in the air of the two-story ceilings! We enter a large, open concept, concrete space boasting exposed brick and beamed arches. Encouraged to explore, sit, and stand anywhere in the space, the audience alternates wandering and settling throughout Zephyr’s new venue, SITE/less. The opening lobby,main floor, and smaller corner room housing an overhead lamp-clad standing desk assures us an architectural designer was here.

Wandering into the main space, we see two large overlapping rings settled on the floor – one of brick, one of wood reminiscent of a gravity maze. Amidst the rigid and symmetrically pleasing figure 8 lies a piled white cloth on the brick ledge. As our eyes are led down there’s an orange string tracing the structure, and lacing through the space.

More pre-performance wandering, and we find a screen installation, which will display a handful of varying ambient videos. Our eyes are drawn to the screen as a round, white, buoyant abstract structure appears, rolling and bouncing about in space. As lights dim and highlight two opposing corners, we instinctively form an aisle as we welcome the featured duo.


This is what comes to this dancer’s mind as the duo of movers, powerful in their softness, slowly emerge. They are dressed in equally powerfully structured attire, down to black stiletto heels. This performer took a moment to appreciate the skill of executing choreography in heels – on a concrete floor, no less!

Choreographer Michelle Kranicke and movement developer Molly Strom appear in the glowing corner architect’s room, slowly drawing neon string  from each other’s tethered hands. They eventually end up on opposing sides, a taut string dividing the room. The same neon string is found in intricate zig zag stitching down their structured, dark complementing costuming designed by Amanda Lee Franck. Large bright stitches draw our eyes down to the soft percussion of their heeled shoes against the concrete. This lover of textiles and design appreciates the thoughtful attention to detail.

Guests find themselves temporarily bordered off in the various corners and pockets of the space, others take part in interacting with the constantly moving string, playing limbo and stepping over. We trickle in and out of the main space in Choose-Your-Own-Adventure fashion, each of us undoubtedly having a unique experience of the scene.

The two carefully yet intensely lock eyes from across the room, accompanied by music that could found in the standoff of a spaghetti western. They slowly scale the walls, mirroring, following, and opposing movement.

The exacting lines and angles of their body movement pair with moments of controlled chaos and undulation. These movement choices painted the picture of sitting in discomfort of struggle and uncertainty.

Aggressive darts across the space (watch out, crowd!) and a defining moment of contact create an opposition of character for the duo, one continuing her mission, and one slowly unlacing thread throughout her rigid clothing to appear an abundance of soft, shrouded white. Our eyes shift back and forth, as they have throughout the night to the seemingly ascending and departing movers, until the room fades to black.

Zephyr Dance Introduces New Space

We are greeted after applause when the lights return to architect and husband of Kranicke, David Sundry, with a warm welcome and expression of gratitude for attendance to the opening of both Kranicke’s work and Zephyr’s new resident performance space, SITE/less.

He continued to speak of the shared enthusiasm of SITE/less joining the growing constellation of Chicago’s other noted arts incubators of the community, and later casually engaged us in further conversation about the space and piece.

This production is especially recommended for appreciators of architectural design, technology and those curious of its relationship with performance. As for those whose minds wander during an evening-length piece abstract in story, other productions may better suit your needs. However, for this choreographer and architecture appreciator, the benefits massively outweighed the concern of a shorter-than-average attention span.

Brittany Harlin

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