"Solus WorldView" Review- Visceral Dance Series Showcases Chicago Choreographers and More

On May 10-12, 2017, Visceral Dance Chicago presented its annual collection of new works, a series focusing on Chicago-based choreographers. This Year, “Solus World View”, inspired by the photography of France Leclerc, was held at “The Chop Shop and First Ward” 2033 W. North Avenue, and featured a unique program: each of the 10 company dancers performed solo, giving the audience a rare chance to observe their unique talent.

Photo by France Leclerc; image courtesy of Visceral Dance Chicago

France Leclerc is a truly remarkable travel and documentary photographer who has said, “I am a traveler…and a story-teller. I like to photograph people, to capture ‘moments’ in their lives, from cultural rituals to daily life activities…There is nothing that energizes me more than to be in a foreign environment trying to uncover some of its secrets”. The images of people from remote regions of the world are extraordinary in their depth of human personae, rich attention to artifact/detail, and the demonstration of extraordinary access Leclerc was given. On the walls of the room at ChopShop, either side of the black-matted stage, were 4 large and compelling photos. Behind the dancers were stunning huge shifting images, always of indigenous peoples in situ, a provocative and appropriate backdrop for the exhibition of human triumph over self that is the dance.

 A brief synopsis of the 10 dances follows:


Hanna Brictson in "White Animal" by Ron DeJesus

1)   “White Animal” by Ron DeJesus, starring Hanna Brictson:

DeJesus has a “passion for new choreography, collaboration and innovative production concepts”. This entirely provocative and sensual dance called to mind why the company is known as “visceral”. Brictson was feral and divine as she luxuriated in her extensions and her prowess.


Mario Gonzalez in "El Paso Del Camino" by Michel Rodriguez Cintra

2)   “El Paso Del Camino” by Michel Rodriguez Cintra of Lucky Plush Productions, starring Mario Gonzalez:

Gonzalez seemed to isolate his very SELF in this panther-like evocation of gracefulness vs. robotic moves. He was supple and intense, with pitch-perfect timing.


Giordan Cruz in "If You're Guilty and You Know It" by Ben Wardell

 3)   “If you’re Guilty and You Know It”, by Ben Wardell starring Giordan Cruz:

Wardell, himself a photographer as well as an author, has stated that his artistic interest includes “to combine multiple disciplines through methods that allow each art form to augment the capabilities of the others”. In this effort, all the movement was created by Cruz “from tasks given by Wardell.” Cruz moved in free-form yet highly controlled technically perfect yoga/ta-chi movements that he seemed to be able to pause and change on the instant.


Owen Scarlett in "Grit" by Joshua Manculich

4)   “Grit” by Joshua Manculich starring Owen Scarlett:                                     

 Manculich’s work is known for it’s “emotional resonance”. Scarlett was so expressive, so expansive with his sweeping arms and his effortless hand/headstands; he was openly and lyrically athletic.


Noelle Kayser in "Extant" by Alice Klock

5)   “Extant” by Alice Klock starring Noelle Kayser:                                                       

 Klock, a visual artist as well as a dancer and choreographer, provided a base for the ethereal strength of Kayser who appeared in her slow deliberate demonstration of dancers’ movements to be a monolithic lithe imagined creature.

Riccardo Battaglia in "Task" by Christian Denice


6)   “Task” by Christian Denice, starring Riccardo Battaglia:                                            

Denice dances, teaches and choreographs nationally and internationally. Battaglia’s limbs seemed almost not to be a part of him; he reached past the bounds of self, almost like an African/UFO creature who astonishes with flexibility.

Paige Fraser in "Rebellions Reflection" by Jessica Miller Tomlinson


7)   “Rebellions Reflection” by Jessica Miller Tomlinson starring Paige Fraser:

Miller Tomlinson says her hope “Is to innovate without self-consciousness and to be new and new again”. Fraser was a veritable avante goddess of electricity, very hot, very rhythmic, in this percussive-driven and humorous joyful dance.


Brandon Coleman in "Listen" by Rebecca Lemme

8)   “Listen” by Rebecca Lemme starring Brandon Coleman:                                  

 Lemme is a choreographer, performer, educator and visual artist whose “unique movement style encourages investigation, problem solving and versatility”. This was a cerebral, deliberate and fluid interpretive demonstration of grace and serenity by Coleman, whose face always shines with the light of an acolyte.


Caitlin Cucchiara in "A Straightforward Decision" by Anna Long

9)   “A Straightforward Decision” by Anna Long starring Caitlin Cucchiara:              

Long is a freelance dancer, choreographer and teacher of Gaga, the movement language developed by Ohad Naharin which “provides a framework for discovering and strengthening your body.” The perfect placement and natural physical humor of Cucchiara brought off this immensely clever piece; the audience laughed in delight as she bopped in sunglasses with cigarettes to “Should I stay or should I go?” There’s nothing funny, though, about her inherent intensity and thorough physical command.


Terra Kell in "Independence Day" by Autumn Eckman

10)                  “Independence Day” by Autumn Eckman, starring Terra Kell:                     

 Eckman has been called “A bright choreographic stylist, mixing solid design with color and sparkle.” This was the most cerebral piece, witty and introspective, using ingenious devices and props, cunningly performed by Kell, acting out the growth of a woman’s voyage to freedom, from sob-sister, through mannequin, to SELF.


Photo by France Leclerc; image courtesy of Visceral Dance Chicago

Nick Pupillo, Artistic Director, Visceral Dance, advised this reviewer that his desire this year was “To do something special for the community and for each dancer”. The theme was “Our view of the world”. The work of France Leclerc, introduced to him by a mutual friend, inspired and drove the concept for the series. “Her vitality, color and dynamic approach” won him over. Pupillo noted, “Each image was thoroughly centered on the person in the picture; it’s an effort to capture each soul”. Similarly, he said, “Each dance is a portrait of the dancer”. He hoped  that the event as a whole will “Draw people outside of the position where they might be stuck just now”.


 All photos of Visceral Dance by KT Miller Photography



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