Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago SAME PLANET PERFORMANCE PROJECT Review – Dancing Ecosystems

The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago presents Same Planet Performance Project (SPPP), premiering two works; BAD BUNNY by Founder/Artistic Director Joanna Read and Ammonite by New York choreographer Ivy Baldwin.

Editor’s Note:  Read the related story – “Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago SAME PLANET PERFORMANCE PROJECT Preview – Conversation with Joanna Read and Ivy Baldwin”

Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago SAME PLANET PERFORMANCE PROJECT

Nature Meets The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago Stage

As a dim blue light rises on the four dancers in Ivy Baldwin’s Ammonite, they take slow and deep inhaling breaths, fists to their mouths and elbows lifted towards the sky, reminiscent of sea creatures, their gills expanding and contracting in the ocean current. Both Ammonite and Choreographer Joanna Read’s BAD BUNNY create ecosystems on stage. Baldwin’s piece brings to mind images of an underwater ecosystem and Read’s a forest, complete with a set piece of white trees in the upstage left corner of the dance floor.

Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago SAME PLANET PERFORMANCE PROJECT

In Ammonite, the dancers movement is full of breath and wavy motions, the dancers gliding and wading through the air as if it were thick like water. The dancers move slowly, using their breath to guide them throughout the piece. The lighting and costumes complement the breathy movement—especially with the flowy fabric costumes that move with the dancers. The spotlighted light blue lights give the audience a view that reminds this reviewer of looking up from below the water's surface toward the sunlight above. Music by Justin Jones also provides a soothing soundscape of natural noises.

Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago SAME PLANET PERFORMANCE PROJECT
Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago SAME PLANET PERFORMANCE PROJECT

BAD BUNNY puts the dancers in a forest setting. As each dancer enters the stage we see different animals emerge; wolves, deer, and birds, to name a few. The dancers' movements emulate the movements of the animals they portray, sometimes tender and quiet, other times rapid and uncontrollable.  The dancers interact with the set, a grouping of trees in the back corner of the stage, and the lighting shifts from scene to scene, almost like a shift from day to night in the forest. The soundscore in BAD BUNNY is a combination of nature sounds and dance beats, like the performers, shifting in and out of human and animal qualities.

Underlying Themes

 While these pieces put us into a new ecosystem or world created on stage, the choreographers also pose some questions and ideas about the world in which we will live.

In BAD BUNNY the dancers interact with each other in a variety of ways.  Sometimes these interactions are kindly. At other times they are more forceful, as in a trio in which dancer Patrick Burns is tossed around on the floor, spun in different directions, with his limbs thrown about by the other dancers. According to the program notes, Read explores ideas of consent and boundaries and how they apply in both the human and animal worlds. She says “consent is slippery; often unspoken and not linear.” The piece uses this theme as a framework for the dancers to interact and explore how we as humans, or animals, relate to one another.

Ammonite makes us think more deeply about the world humans live in, and how we interact with the environment itself. The use of breath in the piece exemplifies this theme. The dancers begin breathing slowly and calmly,  but as the piece progresses the breath becomes more agitated and frantic. The dancers' movements become more rapid and twitchy, almost like a nervous tick, resembling the nervousness and uncertainty that many people feel about the current state of the environment, and what’s to come for the natural world.

Both pieces performed by Same Planet Performance Project use the environment as a way to connect the audience to the movement,. We see images of an ecosystem like a forest or the ocean created on stage.  Cultural hot topics like consent and ecological destruction, are related to the movement happening on stage. Through dance, both Baldwin and Read make powerful statements using their choreography, in this writer’s view.

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Read more dance reviews by dancers in the Picture This Post Round-Up, “Choreographers’ Eyes - Dancers Explain Dance”.  Watch this video preview of the story here —

Read more dance reviews by dancers in the Picture This Post Round-Up, “Choreographers’ Eyes - Dancers Explain Dance”.  Watch this video preview of the story here —

When:

February 22, 2020
at 7:30 pm

Where:

Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago
1306 S Michigan Avenue
Chicago

Tickets:

$30+ (Discounts for seniors and students)

For more information about Williams visit Robyn Mineko Williams and Artists website, and for more information about upcoming performances at the Harris Theater visit the Harris Theater website.

Photos by Vin Reed

Hayley Ross

About the Author:

Hayley Ross graduated from Ohio University in 2016 with degrees in Dance and Journalism. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Hayley began dancing at the age of four. She has studied Ballet, Pointe, Modern, Jazz, Contemporary, and African dance and regularly can be found taking dance and Pilates at Chicago's Lou Conte Dance Studio. Hayley has completed internships at CityScene Media Group, OhioDance, the Chautauqua Institution, and American Dance Festival. She currently works in the Marketing department at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago as the Marketing Manager. Learn more about Hayley at hayleyross.weebly.com

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