Links Hall SLEEPTALK Review – Bodies Talking About Sleep

Choreographer Ashley Fargnoli presents SLEEPTALK at Links Hall Photo: Shawn Convey

Let’s talk about sleep

For something we ostensibly spend a third of our lives doing, there is surprisingly little artistic work dealing with the subject of sleep. Dreams, sure, but sleep itself? Choreographer Ashley Fargnoli wrestles with the matter this weekend in the work “Sleeptalk,” a 70 minute exploration of this most elemental activity.


At its best, the piece offers surprising images and a thoughtful prodding of the imagination. The four strong collaborator- performers (Fargnoli, Julie Brannen, Monica Carrow, and Wei-Chiung (Coco) Chen-Martinez) move on top and around the sides of a giant inflated mattress, exploring their relationship to their own bodies while exporing the physicality of the bed. As one dancer sleeps, the other three interrupt and interfere, hopping and harassing—a beautiful embodiment of the worries, anger, and memories that keep us awake at night.

Sleeptalk - 2017 from Convey Films on Vimeo.

Photo: Shawn Convey

…And challenges

The dancers also spend a lot of time on the floor. Repetition is a key choreographic device, and like hearing a word repeated until it sounds nonsensical, a move repeated can force one’s brain to rethink what it sees and interpret it anew. The most challenging part of a piece about sleep is its infectious nature—that is, keeping one’s audience awake. The piece unfolds slowly to a score of dreamy drone, and it’s appropriately tough to maintain alertness under the circumstances. The piece is cerebral, and demands a high level of attentive effort to reap the rewards of the meditation it offers.


Recommended for: Those interested in movement exploring the psychology of sleep.


Not recommended for: That friend who falls asleep easily.

Photo: Shawn Convey
Photo: Shawn Convey


January 13, 14, and 15 at 7pm



Links Hall
3111 N. Western, Chicago





For more information on Ashley Fargnoli:


Editor's Note:  Ashley Fargnoli is one of the choreographers who will be joining the Picture This Post co-sponsored tours of the Museum of Contemporary Art's upcoming Merce Cunningham show.  Stay tuned to these pages for more information on these events and 2017's CHOREOGRAPHER SPOTLIGHTS.

Photos: Shawn Convey

Susanna Hostetter
Susanna Hostetter is a dancer and teaching artist, exposing hundreds of Chicago Public School students a year to dance through renowned dance education organizations. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology and Dance from Macalester College in St. Paul, MN, and is an avid attendee of Chicago theater, music, and cultural events.






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