For those of us who dream of loft living, intrigue is already in the air of the two-story ceilings! We enter a large, open concept, concrete space boasting exposed brick and beamed arches. Encouraged to explore, sit, and stand anywhere in the space, the audience alternates wandering and settling throughout Zephyr’s new venue, SITE/less. The opening lobby,main floor, and smaller corner room housing an overhead lamp-clad standing desk assures us an architectural designer was here.
Wandering into the main space, we see two large overlapping rings settled on the floor - one of brick, one of wood reminiscent of a gravity maze. Amidst the rigid and symmetrically pleasing figure 8 lies a piled white cloth on the brick ledge. As our eyes are led down there’s an orange string tracing the structure, and lacing through the space.
More pre-performance wandering, and we find a screen installation, which will display a handful of varying ambient videos. Our eyes are drawn to the screen as a round, white, buoyant abstract structure appears, rolling and bouncing about in space. As lights dim and highlight two opposing corners, we instinctively form an aisle as we welcome the featured duo.
This is what comes to this dancer’s mind as the duo of movers, powerful in their softness, slowly emerge. They are dressed in equally powerfully structured attire, down to black stiletto heels. This performer took a moment to appreciate the skill of executing choreography in heels - on a concrete floor, no less!
Choreographer Michelle Kranicke and movement developer Molly Strom appear in the glowing corner architect's room, slowly drawing neon string from each other’s tethered hands. They eventually end up on opposing sides, a taut string dividing the room. The same neon string is found in intricate zig zag stitching down their structured, dark complementing costuming designed by Amanda Lee Franck. Large bright stitches draw our eyes down to the soft percussion of their heeled shoes against the concrete. This lover of textiles and design appreciates the thoughtful attention to detail.
Guests find themselves temporarily bordered off in the various corners and pockets of the space, others take part in interacting with the constantly moving string, playing limbo and stepping over. We trickle in and out of the main space in Choose-Your-Own-Adventure fashion, each of us undoubtedly having a unique experience of the scene.
The two carefully yet intensely lock eyes from across the room, accompanied by music that could found in the standoff of a spaghetti western. They slowly scale the walls, mirroring, following, and opposing movement.
The exacting lines and angles of their body movement pair with moments of controlled chaos and undulation. These movement choices painted the picture of sitting in discomfort of struggle and uncertainty.
Aggressive darts across the space (watch out, crowd!) and a defining moment of contact create an opposition of character for the duo, one continuing her mission, and one slowly unlacing thread throughout her rigid clothing to appear an abundance of soft, shrouded white. Our eyes shift back and forth, as they have throughout the night to the seemingly ascending and departing movers, until the room fades to black.
Zephyr Dance Introduces New Space
We are greeted after applause when the lights return to architect and husband of Kranicke, David Sundry, with a warm welcome and expression of gratitude for attendance to the opening of both Kranicke’s work and Zephyr’s new resident performance space, SITE/less.
He continued to speak of the shared enthusiasm of SITE/less joining the growing constellation of Chicago’s other noted arts incubators of the community, and later casually engaged us in further conversation about the space and piece.
Learn more about dance by seeing dance through dancers eyes in the Picture This Post series, “Choreographers’ Eyes - Dancers Explain Dance”. Watch this video preview of the story here—
This production is especially recommended for appreciators of architectural design, technology and those curious of its relationship with performance. As for those whose minds wander during an evening-length piece abstract in story, other productions may better suit your needs. However, for this choreographer and architecture appreciator, the benefits massively outweighed the concern of a shorter-than-average attention span.
Thru May 5
Thursday - Saturday at 7:30pm
1250 W Augusta Blvd.
Michelle Kranicke and Molly Strom
$15 and available via the Zephyr Dance website.
Photos: Cristina Tadeo and Courtesy of Zephyr Dance
Architecture: David Sundry
Sound and Video Edit: Michelle Kranicke
Music: Ennio Morricone, Patrick, Sarsfield Gilmore, Traditional
Costumes:: Amanda Lee Franck
Cinematography: Rosa Gaia, David Sundry
Dancers: Michelle Kranicke, Molly Strom
About the Author:
Brittany Harlin is the founding artistic director of Chicago Urban Dance Collective and 2017 recipient of the Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist Award. Her influences are Hip Hop and Modern Dance Pioneers. In addition to company work, her dancing and choreography has been featured at Ragdale Foundation, Links Hall, Elastic Arts, Aragon Ballroom, DRAMA Duo Music Productions, Black Ensemble Theatre, and Hip Hop International.
Brittany’s focus is Hip Hop, Modern, Funk Styles, Waacking, and House, combined with growing knowledge of somatics and kinesiology, all through the concert dance lens. Her goal is to bring dance education to a place of complete body awareness, spiritual expression, and connection. Brittany hopes to establish her practice in expressive therapy, creating opportunities, and inclusiveness.
Her teaching artist pedagogy & philosophy are weighted in respecting the integrity of the vernacular movement, by sharing what she’s been taught from respected community members - and stopping exactly there. She relates those concepts to personal natural movement, and the energy of the dancers she’s working with. Her goal is to create solidarity between diverse backgrounds, conducive to the essence and intention of The Hip Hop Socio-Political Movement. Harlin’s passion in dance extends to her community as she has launched her most recent endeavor of teaching professionalism and industry standards to aspiring professional dancers.
When Brittany isn’t dancing, she is supplementing her work with her passions for poetry and songwriting. She’s been referred to as a fawn and a hippie on multiple, separate occasions.