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Friday, February 16, 2018

This Week on Filmstruck: Jacques Demy

Posted By on 02.16.18 at 08:00 AM

Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac in Jacques Demy's The Young Girls of Rochefort
  • Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac in Jacques Demy's The Young Girls of Rochefort

One of cinema's great visual stylists, filmmaker Jacques Demy (1931-1990) was part of the other French New Wave—the Paris Left-Bank group of directors that included Alain Resnais, Chris Marker, and Demy's wife, Agnès Varda. As a complement to Varda's recent Oscar nomination and surge in celebrity, this week we're spotlighting five Demy films currently showing on Filmstruck. Varda's 1995 documentary The World of Jacques Demy is also showing in the Demy collection on the streaming channel.

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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Ayako Kato creates a radical dance experiment in silence and stillness

Posted By on 02.08.18 at 01:11 PM

Ayako Kato's Stück 1998/Anchor 2018 - COURTESY THE ARTIST
  • Courtesy the Artist
  • Ayako Kato's Stück 1998/Anchor 2018

Choreographer Ayako Kato makes discoveries in stillness. For her latest work, Stück 1998/Anchor 2018, she was inspired by the moments of silence in contemporary classical composer Manfred Werder’s 4,000-page score Stück 1998, a piece containing 160,000 12-second units of time with six seconds of music and six seconds of silence in each.

"For a mover, silence is equivalent with stillness," says Kato. "When I experience that stillness I realize there is no such thing as stillness. Your heart is moving. You’re breathing. When you have silence and stillness, you start to sense how movement is precious."

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Saturday, February 3, 2018

Brodsky/Baryshnikov is a meditation on mortality, with a little bit of dancing

Posted By on 02.03.18 at 11:36 PM

Mikhail Baryshnikov reads Joseph Brodsky's work. - JANIS DEINATS
  • Janis Deinats
  • Mikhail Baryshnikov reads Joseph Brodsky's work.

The set for Mikhail Baryshnikov's tribute to Joseph Brodsky consists of a structure resembling a ruined old greenhouse—something you might picture surviving in a neglected corner of the Ranyevskaya estate years after the sale of the cherry orchard. Baryshnikov's route to the stage takes him through a door at the back of the structure, across its near-empty interior, and finally out a downstage set of doors. Almost comically circuitous, it's not what you'd call a star entrance. And it's not followed by anything you'd call a star turn. The great dancer spends the next few moments unpacking items from a valise: books, a pint-size whisky bottle. Then he starts reciting Brodsky's poetry, in Russian.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

At the Eclipsing Festival, Amina Ross wants you to find the light in darkness

Posted By on 01.30.18 at 02:25 PM

Patricia Nguyen will perform at the Eclipsing Festival - JOHN LEE
  • John Lee
  • Patricia Nguyen will perform at the Eclipsing Festival

Amina Ross, the curator of Links Hall’s new Eclipsing Festival, doesn’t want you to be afraid of the dark. Instead, she and a team of multimedia artists want to shatter socially reinforced associations surrounding light and darkness.

“The connotations around darkness are almost wholly negative,” says Ross. Although the connection between racial injustice and language can seem abstract, she believes that connection is really tangible. “If we’re taught from the most basic ages that to be dark or to be black is bad,” she says, “how can we expand our imagination around people who are called by the same name?”

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Thursday, January 4, 2018

Catalyst Movmnt showcases the experiences of black womyn through dances of their own making

Posted By on 01.04.18 at 03:07 PM

Keyierra Collins, Trinity Dawn Bobo, and Keisha Bennett - MARVALACE GARRETT
  • Marvalace Garrett
  • Keyierra Collins, Trinity Dawn Bobo, and Keisha Bennett

As the recent Alabama Senate election showed, the strength of black women is both underestimated and impossible to ignore. Hailed as the demographic that “saved democracy and human decency” (CNN), tasked with acting as the “moral force” of an immoral country (the Root), venerated as the “disrespected, unprotected, and neglected” who, nevertheless, persist (the Guardian), black women remain underserved by stereotypes that fail to see the lives of individuals who make up the body politic.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat. | Fall. Climb. Release. offers one opportunity for contemplation, as Trinity Dawn Bobo, Keisha Bennett, and Keyierra Collins, three self-described black womyn, all recent graduates of Columbia College, present a mixed bill of premieres that investigate the theme of catharsis from psychological, political, and personal perspectives. Curated by Aaliyah Christina of Catalyst Movmnt, the program is intended to showcase black female experience within a context that includes queer identities, police brutality, mental illness, and our enemy in the White House.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Ayako Kato's three-month movement workshop Art of Now III culminates with an experimental performance concert

Posted By on 12.13.17 at 06:48 PM

Corinne Imberski - COURTESY THE ARTIST
  • Courtesy the artist
  • Corinne Imberski

“The creative process can be lonely,” says Ayako Kato, facilitator of "Stuck Foot, Open Hand, Running Mouth," an evening of mostly solo works that have emerged through her three-month movement improvisation workshop, Art of Now III. “I wanted to offer an opportunity to overcome the loneliness of making experimental work.”

Founder and curator of the dance performance series Dance Union, Kato has frequently created situations for artists working in nontraditional forms to come together, perform, and respond to each other. While the workshops she has taught for several years have always culminated in informal showings, with the support of Hamlin Park and Chicago Moving Company, workshop participants now also have the opportunity to coproduce a performance—an important skill for anyone who, possessed by what Kato calls “this burning feeling of creation,” must confront the realities of limited resources. “By initiating and securing a place for them to show their work, they can focus on the task of creating,” she says.

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Hubbard Street Dance gifts us with an evening of works by Crystal Pite

Posted By on 12.07.17 at 07:00 AM

  • Todd Rosenberg Photography
  • A Picture of You Falling

Crystal Pite’s evolution as a choreographer has been driven by a proverb: “Talk to a man about himself and he will listen for hours.” Theater audiences want to feel represented by the performers, and Pite seeks to create that connection through dance. The three works presented in Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Winter Series are a series of experiments exploring this idea through narrative.

But those narratives aren’t set in stone. A new company of dancers means a new approach to each of these works, which debuted between 2008 and 2012. “Every time I restage a piece on a group of dancers, the works change,” Pite says. “It’s a living, breathing thing, and it wants to live and breathe through whatever body its inhabiting. I love finding out new things through new dancers. And finding out what the ideals and essentials are of what I’ve made. What things are necessary for the work to hold.”

Choreography isn’t a rigid framework for Pite. It’s a map with specific points that need to be hit, but one that still allows room for the dancers to create their own paths. “The trajectory and pathways of your body are prescribed, but you have space to approach it as an improvisation,” Pite says. “Everyone does better when they feel a sense of ownership over what they’re doing. They’re responsible for creating it in real time, and I want them to feel like they have agency and are a creative collaborator. That’s what makes it vibrate with life. Otherwise we’re just copying and something dies.”

Hubbard Street Dance Winter Series: An Evening of Crystal Pite 12/7-12/10: Thu 7:30 PM, Fri and Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM, Harris Theater, 215 E. Randolph, 312-334-7777,, $25-$110.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Links Hall turns trading post for a festival of artistic exchange

Posted By on 11.29.17 at 05:00 PM

J'Sun Howard and Brother(hood) Dance! - COURTESY LINKS HALL
  • Courtesy Links Hall
  • J'Sun Howard and Brother(hood) Dance!

Giving artists a place to experiment and refine their craft is at the core of Links Hall's mission, and the organization likewise recognizes the value of dialogue between different artists and audiences. In the past, Links has annually spotlighted a noteworthy work from a local artist who chooses an out-of-town creator for a shared presentation at Links Hall that then travels to the visitor's homework.

This tradition expands considerably with Trade Routes, which features five different pairings put together for a festival running from November 30 to December 9. "This way the locals and out-of-towners would be able to see more of each other's work and Chicago audiences could see work from all over the city and all over the country in one ten-day period," says Links Hall director Roell Schmidt. Some of these pairings include dance maker and poet J'Sun Howard with New York City's Brother(hood) Dance! and Myra Su with Cincinnati's Emily Schubert, two multimedia puppet storytellers who met at last year's National Puppet Slam in Atlanta.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Welcome to the world of the Seldoms’ The Making

Posted By on 11.15.17 at 06:33 PM

The Making features three distinct settings designed by visual artists, in this case, Fraser Taylor. - CALLUM RICE
  • Callum Rice
  • The Making features three distinct settings designed by visual artists, in this case, Fraser Taylor.

Painted banners hang long and low from the rafters of the Pulaski Park Field House, and when the music begins with a noise like a siren, the dancers flicker in and out of view through them, as animals in a thicket or words obscured by censorship bars. They are jointed and joined, mechanical and organic, as they emerge and retreat from view, in groupings that create dependencies through the tensions of push and pull that pulse within and beyond the self. The touch becomes strange as a hand skitters down a leg, not a tickle or a grab, something robotic but alive with intention.

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Monday, November 6, 2017

A pole show puts a new spin on politics

Posted By on 11.06.17 at 01:41 PM

Poleitico: A Pole Show on Politics - COURTESY POLARIS DANCE THEATRE
  • Courtesy Polaris Dance Theatre
  • Poleitico: A Pole Show on Politics

Political commentary and pole dancing may sound like a preposterous pairing, but new troupe Polaris Dance Theatre wants to prove that the form can be topical as well as titillating. Its first production, Poleitico: A Pole Show on Politics, addresses pressing issues from climate change to Black Lives Matter, and deliberately debuts on the first anniversary of Donald Trump's election.

After training herself in pole dancing over the last two years, Kelly Smith created Polaris to explore the creative opportunities posed by an apparatus that elevates dancers and allows them to contort their bodies in novel ways. "It's kind of scary sometimes," she says. "You can create different shapes upside down, in the air. And then when you hold those shapes, when you spin around or do a certain combo, it's basically like vertical gymnastics. It adds this entirely different element of strength and grace. It's almost like you're flying half the time."

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