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Propelled Animals


May 21–June 6

Days and times vary



Locations vary


Free –$30

For tickets, visit the Pivot Arts website


Pivot Arts, a hub for multidisciplinary performance presents Reimagining Utopia, the ninth annual Pivot Arts Festival featuring almost entirely world premieres from

12 artists and companies asked by the festival to create small, live works of theatre, dance and/or music, as well as video installations, inspired by this year’s theme, Reimagining Utopia. This theme imagines a better world post-pandemic, and responses to the global health crisis and the Black Lives Matter movement of 2020.

Audiences engage in events by proceeding through a space featuring video and small live works, similar to a walking tour through a gallery, rather than sitting and watching longer performances. There are also outdoor events and videos on the Pivot Arts website.

The Festival is staged at four locations as follows—


·     The Edge Theater and ColorCircles Studios


Small groups of masked audiences are guided through a performance tour of live events starting at The Edge Off Broadway, 1133 W. Catalpa, and continuing throughout The Edge Theater complex, 5451 N. Broadway. Audiences then are led to ColorCircles Studios, 5524 N. Broadway. The total experience lasts about 90 minutes, for groups at staggered start times.

Raquel Monroe

SolAR* presents Portal to New Earth—world premiere video installation
Portal to New Earth is a visual musical experience that combines animation, story and sound to illustrate a reality in unity with nature — as a meditation on the concepts of oneness, nature, humanity and beauty. Portal to New Earth is created, animated and composed by Nefertiti Abdulmalik; Rachele Jackson is assistant animator and environment artist.

Propelled Animals present state(d)—world premiere video installation
state(d) is an immersive experience interrogating social agency, blending ritual and performance. The Propelled Animals aims to encourage efficacy of the body, resilience and radical tenderness as strategies for self-empowerment. State(d)’s creators include Art Director and Sound Designer Barber, Creative Director and sculptor Heidi Wiren Bartlett and choreographers/performers Esther Baker-Tarpaga and Raquel Monroe.

Ishti Collective presents Prana by Tuli Bera, Preeti Veerlapati and Kinnari Vora—world premiere live dance performance
Prana is an invitation to rest and recuperate. Ishti’s spokesperson says, “By creating an ethereal space using meditative movement, sound and light, we become aware of our breath while restoring balance and harmony with our natural state.” Sound is composed and designed by Bob Garrett.

Christin Eve Cato (playwright) presents A Woman’s Armor—world premiere live theatre performance
A Woman’s Armor is an homage to women in history who have fought for equal rights and protection under the law, as well as women who were survivors of abuse and forced to be silent. Told through physical movements of self-defense, this story hopes to be a testimony of how powerful women truly are. A Woman's Armor is performed by Jessi Realzola. Christopher Corrales is fight choreographer and combat trainer.

Danielle Ross (with Mike Treffehn) presents Granular Peripheries—live dance performance
Event promoters say, “This live piece meditates on how bodies in motion soak up the landscapes that we move with and among: people, buildings, sonic vibrations and weather patterns. Generated from research into how architectures have contained, organized and directed bodies, this solo considers the buildings, bodies and materials of each performance site as fellow choreographer. This work invites audiences to consider who has passed and continues to pass through the spaces we inhabit.” The concept, choreography and design of Granular Peripheries is by Danielle Ross, with concept and sound design by Mike Treffehn.

Nefertiti Abdulmalik
Christin Eve Cato

Maggie Kubley and Minnie Productions present Come Over—world premiere video installation
A multimedia performance experience marking the launch of the music video for Kubley’s song, Come Over. The event organizers describe, “The terms self love and self care take on new meanings in this humorous look at pandemic hookups showing one woman’s attempt to satisfy her sexual urges in spite of living alone through a global pandemic. Not recommended for children younger than 14.”

Colvin House, 5940 N. Sheridan Road, outdoors

The Puppet Wonder Wagon—ALL AGES world premiere puppetry performance and workshop
The Wonder Wagon, a mobile performance platform made from a converted trailer, presents large-scale, abstract puppets in performance, followed by an outdoor puppet-building workshop for families to create their own imaginary creatures. The performance is conceived, designed and built by Will Bishop and Grace Needlman; co-created and co-curated by Will Bishop, Samuel J. Lewis II and Grace Needlman; and devised and performed by Will Bishop, Hunter Diamond, Samuel J. Lewis II, Felix Mayes, Scott Ray Merchant, Grace Needlman, Cristal Sabbagh and Myles Wakefield; and music is composed and performed by Hunter Diamond.

KAIA String Quartet presents String Quartet in B minor, Scherzo by Teresa Carreño and String Quartet No. 3, 1st and 2nd movements, by Claudio Santoro—live music performance
KAIA String Quartet—violinist Victoria Moreira, violinist Naomi Culp, violist Amanda Grimm and cellist Hope DeCelle—works to promote the rich tradition of music from Latin America. The event spokesperson explains, “Venezuelan composer Teresa Carreño’s String Quartet in B minor (1896) is described as one of her most sophisticated works in spite of certain restrictions she faced as a 19th century female composer. Claudio Santoro was among the major influential figures in 20th century Brazilian music, praised by his renowned contemporaries Igor Stravinsky and Aaron Copland. He composed the String Quartet No. 3 during his Nationalistic Period after 1953 and, although rarely performed, it is one of 500 compositions he wrote throughout his lifetime.”

Rivendell Theatre, 5779 N. Ridge

Laksha Dantran presents Far Within: A Contemporary Dance Production—world premiere video installation
This piece is a visualization of a trans woman's nightmare during the pandemic. She asks a question to herself: "Is social distancing more challenging?" Dancers include Tuli Bera, Keely Morris, Mary Ann Delacruz, Ashwaty Chennat and Laksha Dantran. Videography and editing are by Jacob Klippenstein and Peter Dorman. The performance includes a post-viewing discussion about the work.

Wonder Wagon

Pivot Arts Website:

Three videos premiere, followed by a discussion between the artists and viewers about the performances and changes they'd like to see in a post-pandemic world. All videos are later available free on Pivot's website following the premiere event.

Perceptions Theatre presents Utopian Views
Utopian Views explores what makes a place a utopia and the changes Chicago would have to make to reach such a state. The video creators say, “Before we build policy, we must center the most oppressed, understanding how our ideals and actions harm one another.” Utopian Views is written and performed by Ndgo Blk.

Sami Ismat presents Nostalgic Buds
This project explores how immigrants shop at ethnic food stores when they move to the U.S. to nostalgically remember pleasant moments in their home countries. Ismat says, “The hope is, through this film and conversation, to recall beautiful cultural values that could be foundational to rebuilding a utopic version of one's home country someday.”

Nora Sharp presents The Real Dance: A Micro Reality TV Show
Sharp says, “This is the true story of five dancers, forced to live in their houses, dance (mostly) alone and have their improvisations taped, to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start moving for real.” The work is performed by Christina Chammas, Dorian Vanunu, Irene Hsiao, Jenn Freeman and Nora Sharp, to an original score by Dorian Vanunu.

For a detailed schedule and more information, visit the Pivot Arts website.

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Images courtesy of Pivot Arts

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