"Soften Every Edge," directed and designed by Rachel Damon, featured six dancers and music by Matthew Griffo. The performance space was sectioned off with two concrete pillars on each side. Maroon and grey woven structures wrap around the pillars, filling the whole front of the stage from floor to ceiling. Construction lights also hang along the back wall or are placed on the floor. The dancers stand off to the sides. The performance begins and the dancers take the stage, some weaving themselves into the woven installation, which acts as a screen between the dancers and the audience. Dancers become entangled in the installation as they take lights and and illuminate themselves. Two dancers eventually lift the installation, opening the stage and removing the screen from our view.
Dancers, Weaving and Unweaving
The dancers gather in the center, conversing amongst themselves as their weave more structures using their arms. One by one, they finish their woven creations. One dancer suddenly struggles with her woven pattern. Though she is offered help, she denies it, pulling her work apart and storming off. The performance continues with a varying dance sequence. Movements that arch, circle, reach, and wrap. They come into one another, in and out of the floor, tangled in the woven structure.
The performance ends as the woven installation is returned to its original position and the dancers exit one by one. Two dancers, who have woven themselves into the concrete pillars, remove the knitting needles that held the structure around them. As they walk off, they drop the needles, which create varied pitches as they hit the concrete and tile floor.
Reflecting on Constraints
Watching this dance performance, we reflect on the constraints placed upon us by our peers, our environment, and most importantly, by ourselves. We observe how to break free from these constraints, yet we place ourselves right back. No matter the constraint – as seen in the different arrangements of the woven installations and the dancers wrapped in it – the challenge still remains.
About the Author
Sara Maslanka was named Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble’s Artistic Director in August 2015 after originally joining CDE as a Teaching Artist and Ensemble Member in 2014. She is a performer and choreographer that loves to blend dance, theatricality and comedy to her works. Sara values a collaborative process that incorporates research, discussion and play. When not performing or creating work, Sara is a teaching artist based in schools across Chicagoland and a budding dance science researcher. Sara received a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and Pedagogy from Columbia College Chicago and a Masters of Science in Dance Science from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London, UK. Consumed, premiered March 2017, marked Sara’s debut work as Artistic Director.