Robyn Mineko Williams’ ‘Undercover Episodes’ returns to Chicago, June 15-18


Robin Mineko Williams Rehearsal

Robin Mineko Williams Rehearsal. © Todd Rosenberg Photography

By Robyn Mineko Williams

Choreographer Robyn Mineko Williams and her creative team, composer/musicians Robert F. Haynes and Tony Lazzara of Chicago band Verger and art director/designer JT Williams, are excited to announce the return of Undercover Episodes to Chicago this summer, June 15-18th, 2018.

Undercover Episodes, the innovative dance-based performance series spearheaded by in demand, award-winning choreographer, Robyn Mineko Williams, is back this summer with a four show Chicago run, including a family friendly matinee*.

Presented by Apologue Liqueurs and danced by Jacqueline Burnett, Elliot Hammans and Michael Gross, all current members of internationally renowned Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, the chameleon-like series offers the chance to see extraordinary dance set in a curated melange of distinctly Chicago locations.

Repeat attendance is encouraged – each show will meld to its surroundings and have a signature of its own.

*Undercover Episode 008: The Charleston marks the series’ first family friendly performance.

Williams, choreographer of two critically acclaimed, full length children’s dance works originally presented by the Kennedy Center, Harold and the Purple Crayon in 2010 and Mariko’s Magical Mix in 2015, is thrilled to adapt Episode 008: The Charleston to appeal not only to adults but children, as well. The 50-minute performance is interactive, colorful, fun and engaging for audiences of all ages.

“Rare is the opportunity to see these dancers and this choreographer’s work from an arm’s length away, and her ability to work in intimate spaces might be Robyn Mineko Williams’ best kept secret.” – Lauren Warneke, Art Intercepts

“unforgettable… intimate and irreplicable” — Elena Zinchenko, Host Of Undercover Episode 005: Hyde Park

Undercover Episodes

The performance schedule is as follows:

Undercover Episode 007: Storefront on Damen/Firecat Projects
Friday, June 15th, 2018, 7:30pm
@ Firecat Projects, 2124 N. Damen Ave., Chicago, IL 60647

Undercover Episode 008: The Charleston
Saturday, June 16th, 2018, 1:00pm
@ Charleston Bar, 2076 N. Hoyne Ave., Chicago, IL 60647
*** FAMILY FRIENDLY MATINEE – Kids under 10 are free with guardian admission

Undercover Episode 009: Danny’s Tavern
Sunday, June 17th, 2018, 7:30pm
@ Danny’s Tavern, 1951 W Dickens Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

Undercover Episode 010: Mott Street Chicago
Monday, June 18th, 2018, 7:30pm
@ Mott Street, 1401 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago, IL 60622

Tickets are available online at <A HREF=’http://www.eventbrite.com/e/undercover-episodessummer-2018-tickets-46029259755&#8242; TARGET=_blank>www.eventbrite.com/e/undercover-episodessummer-2018-tickets-46029259755</A>
All performances are limited capacity.

Pricing is as follows:
• ONE SHOW Ticket – $35/one performance
• TWO SHOW Ticket – $60/two performances of your choice ($10 discount)
• THREE SHOW Ticket – $85/three performances of your choice ($15 discount)
• ALL IN Ticket – $110/four performances + Cocktail class with Robby Haynes ($20 discount + lesson)</b>

Undercover Episodes was developed in part during a residency at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, New York, NY and awarded through the Princess Grace Foundation-USA Works In Progress program.

ABOUT ROBYN MINEKO WILLIAMS

Robyn Mineko Williams danced for River North Dance Chicago and was a member of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago for twelve seasons, during which she performed choreography by numerous renowned artists including Ohad Naharin, Jiri Kylian, William Forsythe and Johan Inger, and originated roles in new works by Jorma Elo, Sharon Eyal, Twyla Tharp and Lar Lubovitch, among others. She began making her own work in 2001 through Hubbard Street’s Inside/Out Choreographic Workshop and, in 2010, co-choreographed with Terence Marling Hubbard Street 2’s Harold and the Purple Crayon: A Dance Adventure, designed for young audiences. She has since created multiple premieres for Hubbard Street’s main company including the Art of Falling, a full evening production by the artists of The Second City and Hubbard Street and has made work for Charlotte Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Grand Rapids Ballet, Visceral Dance Chicago and The Nexus Project, presented at the Kennedy Center, the American Dance Festival, the Joyce Theater and other venues. Named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” for 2014, Williams was one of Northwest Dance Project’s 2012 International Choreography Competition winners, received a 2013 Princess Grace Choreographic Fellowship and was selected as an E-choreographer for Springboard Danse Montreal the same year. In 2015 she completed a Princess Grace Foundation–USA Works In Progress Residency at the Baryshnikov Arts Center and received a Choreography Mentorship Co-Commission Award from the Princess Grace Foundation–USA in support of Mariko’s Magical Mix: A Dance Adventure, her second full-length children’s program in collaboration with shadow puppetry performance collective, Manual Cinema. In 2016, Williams was selected as one of NewCIty’s Players: 50 People Who Really Perform for Chicago and Best Choreographer in Chicago Magazine’s Best Of Issue. robynminekowilliams.com

ABOUT VERGER – ROBERT F. HAYNES AND TONY LAZZARA

Drawn to its vibrant and eclectic music scene, North Carolina native Robert F. Haynes packed up his gear and moved to Chicago in the early 2000’s. Since then the multi-instrumentalist’s work has run the gamut from the blissed out guitar antics of The Record Low and primal basement fuzz of underground synth punks Treasurer to the fractured electro compositions of Verger. Through Verger, Haynes and collaborator Tony Lazzara (Bloodiest, Atombombpocketknife) create rich narrative landscapes for Robyn Mineko Williams’ choreography, melding seemingly disparate elements – haunting melodies, ambient drone, pulsing rhythms and wire-y guitars – into something otherworldly. Visit verger.bandcamp.com to learn more.

ABOUT JT WILLIAMS

Minneapolis based designer, Jt Williams, has spent his career connecting business and human centered design to guide innovation and nurture creativity. Currently working as a product designer for SportsEngine, Jt spends his most productive time sucking the creative energy from his two daughters to fulfill his endless need to make things. Jt has a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design with a minor in Psychology from Iowa State University. Recent projects include collaboration with Robyn Mineko Williams for Undercover, collaboration with photojournalist Reed Young for Finding Vietnam’s War Children—Chon Thanh Refugees Then and Now (on exhibit this fall at the National Veterans Art Museum), and regular contributor to TheBolg.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Press Releases

MorrisonDance Celebrates 20th Anniversary Season with Retrospective Showcase as part of Cleveland Public Theatre’s DanceWorks 2018


MorrisonDance Spider photo by Bob Perkoski

MorrisonDance Spider. Photo by Bob Perkoski.

By Steve Sucato

If it wasn’t for some perseverance and a bit of luck in the form of Cleveland Public Theatre (CPT) founder James Levin deciding to a chance on an unknown Case Western University dance department graduate and giving her the opportunity to mount her first show, the 1997’s groundbreaking LEAPING INTO THE NET!, dancer/choreographer Sarah Morrison might not have stayed in Cleveland.

Brought here in 1992 by a CWRU Creative Achievement Award Scholarship for her choreography, Morrison, an Atlanta-native, might have returned to Georgia without ever forming MorrisonDance, a mainstay on the Northeast, Ohio dance scene.

Now celebrating its 20th Anniversary season, MorrisonDance returns to CPT this weekend, May 24-26, for a retrospective showcase of Morrison’s staged dance works as part of Cleveland Public Theatre’s DanceWorks 2018.

In addition to performing extensively in the greater Cleveland area including site-specific and aerial works at museums, parks and other venues like Schoepfle Gardens and Edgewater Park, Morrison and her company have had tours to Pennsylvania, California, Georgia, Italy, England, Mexico and New York’s City Center, the Joyce SoHo and Joe’s Pub at Public Theatre.

A 2018 recipient of the OhioDance award for “Furthering the Artform of Dance” and a 2009 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, Morrison has created over 75 works for her company in the past two decades as its principal choreographer. Sixteen of those works will be highlighted on this weekend’s 20th anniversary program along with “Simean Suit Sequence” (2016), choreographed by longtime MorrisonDance company dancer Taliesin Haugh.

MorrisonDance 1997-2017 Director Sarah Morrison

From 1997’s LEAPING INTO THE NET!, the first modern dance performance broadcast live online.

MorrisonDance Dali's Drawers photo by Bob Perksoski

MorrisonDance in “Dali’s Drawers”. Photo by Bob Perksoski.

MorrisonDance stars photo by Bob Perkoski

Photo by Bob Perkoski.

Morrison is best known for her highly visual works described as “zany” and “endearing” by former Plain Dealer dance critic Donald Rosenberg, that often involve a light-hearted, playful and humorous approach such as 2001’s “A Tribute to Sissy Hankshaw,” which features a solo dancer wearing oversized thumbs, and the lamp-shade-wearing improvisational solo “My Grandmother’s Lamp” (2003 / 2008).  Through those works and many others, Morrison and company have carved out a unique niche in the region as a dance company that embraces quirkiness while regularly delivering an abundance of audience smiles.

“The process I have [in creating work] is to jump on an inspiration and let it become what it needs to be,” says Morrison. “Often what my work becomes is never my first entry point.”

Morrison says not all of her works fall into that lighthearted spectrum. “Over the years I have done some dark and creepy pieces,” she says — “Dark in the sense of imaginative dark. There is a depth to my work that often explores a gestalt dual side of things.”

The 20th anniversary production will showcase that full theatrical spectrum work in a series of short 3-10 minute works and excerpts from larger works that spans the company’s history. Eight performers including Morrison and Cleveland-based performer/composer Braden Pontoli make up the cast for the 2-hour program that includes 2015’s neurotic “Phobophobia,” set to original music by composer Jeremy Allen and voiceover by Clyde Simon and featuring the dancers in inflatable bouncy ball costumes; Morrison’s zebra-striped pant solo “Zugzwang Zebra” (2015) which cleverly uses a white plastic chair with a hole in its back; the seductive and sinister Irish fairytale “Leanan Sidhe,” (an excerpt from the 2006’s Mad Mask Maker of Maigh Eo); the gravity-inspired “9.8 m/s^2”(2007 / 2009), set to music by James Brown; 2010’s “Conflict Resolution,” a duet where the dancers are connected together at their arms and “Out On the Town” (1996), one of Morrison’s oldest works to music by Tom Waits that celebrates Cleveland’s working-class persona in which the female cast is costumed a la the iconic World War II-era “Rosie the Riveter” posters.

MorrisonDance dreams photo by Bob Perksoki

Photo by Bob Perksoki

MorrisonDance monkeys photo by Bob Perkoski

Photo by Bob Perkoski.

Morrison says beyond trying to find computer keyboards from the 1990s to use as props, the toughest part about putting together this weekend’s 20th anniversary program was selecting the works that would be included on it. More a retrospective than a greatest hits production, for those unfamiliar with the company and Morrison’s work, it’s a relative crash course in it.  And for those already familiar with both, it’s a chance to revisit and reminisce on one of the region’s most long-lasting and unique dance troupes.

MorrisonDance performs as part of Cleveland Public Theatre’s DanceWorks 2018, 7:30 p.m., Thursday, May 24 – Saturday, May 26 at CPT’s Gordon Square Theatre, 6415 Detroit Ave., Cleveland. Tickets are $12/Thursdays and $30/Fridays & Saturdays. For more information and tickets call (216) 631-2727 x 501 or visit cptonline.org

Cleveland Public Theatre’s DanceWorks 2018 continues with:

WEEK #3: INLET DANCE THEATRE – May 31 – June 2

WEEK #4: OBERLIN DANCE PROJECT & MARQUEZ DANCE PROJECT (DOUBLE BILL) – June 7 – June 9
WEEK #5: DOUBLE-EDGE DANCE – June 14 – June 16

Steve Sucato is a former dancer turned arts writer/critic. He is Chairman Emeritus of the Dance Critics Association and Associate Editor of ExploreDance.com.

Leave a comment

Filed under Airings

Fifth Annual ‘The Benefit’ Set To Wow Audiences Again With World-Class Music and Dance  


196

From 2017’s ‘The Benefit’: Dancers in Cincinnati Ballet soloist James Cunningham’s “Mordent.” Photo by Bullfrog Willard McGhee.

By Steve Sucato

One of the region’s premiere arts events, The Benefit returns for the fifth year running on Sunday, May 20 at downtown Columbus’ Jo Ann Davidson Theatre at the Riffe Center. Produced and curated by former BalletMet dancers Jimmy Orrante and Attila Bongar, the talent-packed evening of dance and music benefits The Central Ohio Chapter of the National Hemophilia Foundation.

Joining The Benefit’s returning music groups Camarata (a multi-piece orchestra made up of musicians from the Columbus Symphony Orchestra led by CSO principal cellist Luis Biava) and Columbus ambient alternative band The Wind and the Sea playing live, will be dancers from BalletMet, Cincinnati Ballet, Dayton Ballet, Grand Rapids Ballet and Miami City Ballet.

The 90-minute program kicks off with Bongar’s “Concerto in A Minor,” titled after the music it is set to by Johann Sebastian Bach played live by Camarata. The work for 6 women is an homage to the movement style of father of American ballet, George Balanchine.  Says Bongar: “I’ve spent most my career dancing his [Balanchine’s] ballets or in his style. It shaped me as an artist and I have a huge appreciation of how he impacted American Ballet.”

Next, The Benefit regular Cincinnati Ballet soloist James Cunningham debuts his new ballet “Ristretto,” set to the 4th movement of Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Sonata for Cello and Piano in D minor IV Allegro,” also played live by Camarata. Named after the concentrated espresso drink, the 4-minute contemporary ballet for 4 dancers patterns its movements after another meaning for “ristretto” in Italian — restricted, says Cunningham.

98

From 2017’s ‘The Benefit’: Dancers in Christian Broomhall’s “Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 2.” Photo by Bullfrog Willard McGhee.

170

From 2017’s ‘The Benefit’: Milwaukee Ballet’s Nicole Teague Howell and Patrick Howell in the second act pas de deux from Michael Pink’s “Swan Lake.” Photo by Bullfrog Willard McGhee.

Premiered by BalletMet in 2015, Canadian choreographer James Kudelka’s “Real Life has the feel of “a mechanized square dance,” I wrote in a review of work’s debut. Danced to Caroline Shaw’s 2013 Pulitzer Prize-winning Partita for 8 Voices, BalletMet dancers Caitlin Valentine-Ellis, Jessica Brown, Martin Roosaare and Peter Kurta will perform an excerpt of the unique dance work that will have them “promenading through a tricky series of alternating handshake holds and snaking around one another in delicious patterns.”

The Benefit first-timer, Russell Lepley’s 5-minute “The Things That I Knew,” is a contemporary dance work set to music by Joanna Newsom (performed live) whose concept says Lepley “is to transcribe the music directly to dancers’ bodies.”  A former dancer with Les Grand Ballet Canadians and co-founder of Columbus’ Flux + Flow Dance and Movement Center, Lepley’s piece for 6 dancers, he says “was created by generating detailed movements which oscillate between abstract shapes and the familiar lines of classical ballet to create a whimsical, refined movement vocabulary.”

After a choreographer Kristopher Estes-Brown’s pas de deux “Little Bird” for BalletMet dancers Jessica Brown and Michael Sayre, kathak dancer/choreographer Mansee Singhi will perform her 5-minute solo “Sangam-Confluence of Music and Dance.” Says Singhi, the dance is “a Tarana (a musical composition) in which words and syllables are based on Persian phonemes and “showcases rhythmic footwork on fast beats…music and singing.”

Closing the program’s first half will be BalletMet 2 dancer Allison Perhach and BalletMet company member Sean Rollofson in Balanchine’s iconic “Tchaikovsky Pas de deux.”

After an intermission, the jam-packed program’s second half will open with the musical interlude “Akhnaten” (Excerpt) by composer Philip Glass performed by Camarata, The Wind and The sea and baritone Robert Kerr.

111

From 2017’s ‘The Benefit’: Miami City Ballet principal soloist Lauren Fadeley and BalletMet’s Michael Sayre in Attila Bongar’s “63.” Photo by Bullfrog Willard McGhee.

9

From 2017’s ‘The Benefit’: Marcus Jarrell Willis in “A Caretakers Vow.” Photo by Bullfrog Willard McGhee.

Then, former Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancer Marcus Jarrell Willis will perform his 7 ½-minute contemporary modern solo “Beyond Reach.”  Danced to music by Richard Goode, the work, like last year’s “A Caretaker’s Vow,” encapsulates Willis’ emotional state during an important transition in his life/career; this time just after joining Ailey.

Like compatriot Bongar, Orrante’s new 5-minute ballet “Arc” is set to a composition by Bach that will be played live by Luis Biava (cello) and Suzanne Newcomb (piano). The neo-classical/contemporary ballet for 6 dancers takes its inspiration from Bach’s “Ave Maria,” which will be performed twice in succession.

Next, former Pennsylvania Ballet dancers and current Miami City Ballet principal soloists Lauren Fadeley and Alexander Peters will reprise choreographer Matthew Neenan’s “La Chasse”.  The pair premiered the pas de deux in 2014 as part of Pennsylvania Ballet’s program A 50th Finale: The Ultimate Celebration.

BalletMet company dancer Leiland Charles then makes his The Benefit choreographic debut with “Too Real,” set to music by, and played live by The Wind and The Sea. The 4 ½-minute contemporary dance work for 6 dancers says Charles, has “an otherworldly atmosphere to it.”

216

From 2017’s ‘The Benefit’: Miami City Ballet principal soloist Lauren Fadeley and BalletMet’s Jarrett Reimers in Jimmy Orrante’s “Regard.” Photo by Bullfrog Willard McGhee.

152

From 2017’s ‘The Benefit’: Columbus Symphony Orchestra’s Luis Biava conducts Camarata. Photo by Bullfrog Willard McGhee.

After another musical interlude featuring baritone Robert Kerr in Mozart’s “Hai già vinta la causa!” from The Marriage of Figaro, and Camarata performing Béla Bartók’s “Divertimento Molto Adagio No. II,” the program concludes with Gabor Toth’s interpretation of Jozsef Janek’s work “Train.” The 5-minute piece based in Hungarian folk dance uses the metaphor of a train to symbolize humanity’s journey through life. Says Toth: “Just like a train we all have a journey while we depart and arrive in different stages in our lives.”

Following the performance there will be a meet and greet with the performers that includes refreshments and a silent auction that is open to all ticket-holders.

Joan Wallick presents the fifth annual The Benefit, 5:30 p.m., Sunday, May 20, The Riffe Center’s Jo Ann Davidson Theatre, 77 S. High Street, Columbus, OH. Tickets: Adult – $30, VIP Priority Seating – $55, Student/Child – $15. (614) 902-3965 or https://www1.ticketmaster.com/event/05005442FF8CAA11

Steve Sucato is a former dancer turned arts writer/critic. He is Chairman Emeritus of the Dance Critics Association and Associate Editor of ExploreDance.com.

Leave a comment

Filed under Airings