Museum of Contemporary Art Presents LIGIA LEWIS WATER WILL (IN MELODY) – a haunting choreographic work

When you first enter the MCA’s theatre space, your eyes may take a while to adjust. That’s because the stage is obfuscated by a thick haze lit with eerie yellow lighting. It’s unclear what, if anything, is lurking on stage, but there’s a feeling of unease that permeates the auditorium. That unease is further heightened when a performer enters the space to share the story of The Willful Child, a lesser-known fairytale by the Brothers Grimm about a young girl who is killed for being disobedient. Over the next sixty minutes, issues of will and willfulness will be further refracted amidst a haunting imagistic landscape featuring four performers.

Sparse but striking design in Water Will (In Melody)

From the slick marley floor which reflects the dancers’ movements in the mist like water, to the large, knotted rope which hangs ominously at the back of the stage, you won’t be alone if you shift uncomfortably in your seat.  There is also the drone of an intense musical backdrop. Even the lighting design seems intended to create discomfort, such as a confrontational spotlight that searches frantically through the audience before resting on one area of the auditorium. Prepare to be enveloped in a stark and enigmatic world, thanks to the cavernous use of lights, sound, and mist.  Although the scenic design in Water Will (In Melody) is minimal, each technical element works together to create an experience that envelops you in tone.

MCA Ligia Lewis
MCA Ligia Lewis

Impressive, frightening choreography at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA)

Just as haunting as the design are the movements of the cast of four dancers. Clad in white and black costumes fashioned from latex, each dancer shows an impressive range of movement, executing Ligia Lewis’ choreography with frightening precision. Many of the movements seem to suggest a deep undercurrent of trauma, as performers move their bodies in ways more suggestive of grotesque Barbie dolls, or frenetic marionettes, than that of the human form. Even with some jarring humor sprinkled in —just wait for the Enya disco remix— the overall result was at times too oppressive for this writer. Although not minding being uncomfortable when attending dance or theatre, a disconnect between the curatorial notes about white supremacy and the work on stage did make some moments of the evening feel a tad impenetrable. That being said, for adventurous fans of the avant-garde, strong moods, and exquisitely executed choreography, there will likely be many rewards to grapple with Ligia Lewis’ evocative conclusion to the BLUE, RED, WHITE trilogy.


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Through February 1, 2020



Museum of Contemporary Art
220 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60622



For full price tickets and information, go to MCA Chicago website or call 312.397.4010

Photos by Maria Baranova

Brent Ervin-Eickhoff
Brent Ervin-Eickhoff is a director, writer, and educator based in Chicago, IL. He has worked with A Red Orchid Theatre, Silk Road Rising, Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co., Facility Theatre, and others as a director, assistant director, and in a variety of artistic capacities. Brent served as Co-Artistic Director and then Managing Director of Blue Goose Theatre Ensemble for three years, of which he was a founding member. His productions of Herculaneum and Bison? Bison. Bison! with Blue Goose were praised by critics and audiences. Bison? Bison. Bison! was selected and performed as part of Chicago’s Night Out in the Parks Initiative. An award-winning filmmaker, Brent’s films have screened as part of the Frog Baby Film Festival and Indianapolis 48 Hour Film Project. His play Puget Sound was workshopped as a staged reading as part of A Red Orchid Theatre’s Incubator Program in 2017. Brent graduated from Ball State University Magna Cum Laude with degrees in Directing and Theatre Education, as well as Ball State’s prestigious Academic Honors in Writing.

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