A heroic season close: Liz Gerring Dance Company

A heroic season close: Liz Gerring Dance Company

To close our 2016-17 performance season, the Dance Center is excited and honored to bring yet another new choreographic voice to Chicago audiences: Liz Gerring Dance Company of New York City. Throughout the season we have offered four companies—Tere O’Connor Dance, Ballet de Lorraine, Malpaso Dance Company, and now Liz Gerring’s troupe—that were previously unseen in a full evening presentation on a Chicago stage. This dive into new voices and artistry has refreshed us in countless ways, and lays the rail for more as we anticipate the 2017-2018 season.

20150729_horizon_res_2497Tonight, we welcome the ensemble and Liz’s 2015 work Horizon. Collaborating with composer Michael J. Schumacher, visual/lighting designer Robert Wierzel and costume designer Liz Prince, Gerring contemplates, in this work, a theme of density. Performed in a tightly-framed architectural environment of bright and changing light, the seven dancers take us into a journey of layered dance phrasing and multiplicity of action that is highly inventive and at the same time harkens back to the spatial concerns and rule-breaking of Merce Cunningham and the more formalist early post-modern choreographers. Gerring’s choreography requires extensively trained dancers who can turn on a dime and dance together in one phrase and independently the next, always in seamless transition. It is challenging for the dancers and invites the audience to plunge right in and stick with the activity itself.


Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 7.48.43 AM
Watch the creators bring “Horizon” to life

Gerring analyzes situations steely-eyed and moves quickly to deploy her forces. Her invigorating new piece “Horizon,” which the Liz Gerring Dance Company unveiled at Montclair State University’s Alexander Kasser Theater last week, is a dance for heroes. —NJArts.net

Abstract dance, or dancing as subject, offers no story narrative to follow and no external LizGerring-re-hr-020“meaning” to figure out or apply to the experience of watching. On the other hand, and in the words of choreographer Margaret Jenkins, we believe that “movement can be its own narrative.” With the work of Liz Gerring, we have the opportunity to track the movement narrative on all of its direct and winding paths, capture the fractured moments, follow the dancing together and dancing apart, and experience the choreographic journey in whatever ways resonate fully for each of us. Is this like traversing a crowded airport on a Friday afternoon, or watching a soccer game, or walking with a friend through an open field….or perhaps all of the above, at various points?


Kinesthet20150729_horizon_res-2057ic watching invites us to open our imaginations to new ways of experiencing dance, and to applications that are far more freeing than “just” following a story. Of course, too, you can make up a story or series of stories about what is happening as you watch. On the other hand, there is pleasure enough, sometimes, in simply seeing remarkable dancers on the stage, doing beautiful and surprising things. This we will have in abundance tonight.

We thank Liz and the dancers for bringing their work to us in Chicago. And we wish all of you, our patrons and members of the Dance Center family, a happy hiatus until we see you again when we open our Fall, 2017 season in September. Meanwhile, dance on and dance happy, everybody.

Bonnie Brooks
Director and Lead Curator
Dance Presenting Series

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 7.45.19 AMLiz Gerring Dance Company • Horizon
April 6, 7 and 8, 2017 • 7:30 p.m. Buy tickets



Banner: Claire Westby, Molly Griffin, Brandon Collwes in Horizon. Photo: Miguel Anaya
Above: Liz Gerring dancers in
Horizon. Photo: Miguel Anaya; Claire Westby in Horizon. Photo: Thaddeus Rombauer. Brandon Collwes and Claire Westby in Horizon. Photo: Thaddeus Rombauer


Stepping into Chicago: Malpaso Dance

Stepping into Chicago: Malpaso Dance

The Dance Center is thrilled to present the premiere Chicago appearance of Cuba’s groundbreaking contemporary dance troupe, Malpaso Dance Company. Founded in 2012, Malpaso’s story is one of vision, talent, luck, and perseverance. When now-resident choreographer Osnel Delgado decided, with his colleagues Daileidys Carrazana and Fernando Saéz, to launch a dance company in Havana, they were advised it would be “un malpaso” – a misstep. With the artistic cussedness that drives creative people to do what cannot be done, the trio proceeded anyway and appropriated the warning as a moniker for their new company.

Malpaso dancers in “Despedida.” Photo: David Garten

Since then, Malpaso has emerged as an exciting new international repertory dance ensemble, presenting work by cutting edge choreographers including Delgado, Ron K. Brown, Trey McIntyre, and Aszure Barton. The company has made a commitment to collaboration in their approach to commissioning, bringing together contemporary visual artists, composers, choreographers and dancers for the creation of new work in the tradition of the Ballets Russes or the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. Saéz observes, “Collaborations are the best way of transcending your own assumptions.”


Carrying forward such an ambitious commitment to new work is particularly challenging in Cuba, where resources are sparse. Malpaso has benefitted, therefore, from touring opportunities and production support from North American backers and commissioners such as Joyce Theater Productions in New York City, and Dance Cleveland.

Malpaso dancers in “24 Hours and a Dog.” Photo: Robert Leon

On this tour alone, they are performing in venues at Duke University, Austin, TX, Atlanta and Philadelphia, and at Brooklyn Academy of Music. This “infrastructure collaboration” is an important feature of international cultural exchange and is critical to our ability to conduct dialogue between artists and audiences in cross-cultural settings.


On stage, we will see a recent work by Delgado, 24 Hours and A Dog, as well as Malpaso’s
2016 commission by Barton, one of North America’s most original living female choreographers, Indomitable Waltz. The dancers featured in both works are trained intensively in Cuban contemporary dance practice, which draws on contraction-and-release, Afro-Cuban movement, and exceptional Cuban ballet training. The style and “attack” of these dancers will likely yank us all to our feet at the curtain calls.

Malpaso dancers in “Indomitable Waltz.” Photo: Judy Ondrey

Anything but a misstep, Malpaso brings us tonight into the excitement of what dance can give – exceptional and highly skilled performers, gifted and provocative choreographers and collaborators, and journeys into new creative worlds. We welcome them to the Windy City!

– Bonnie Brooks
Director and Lead Curator,
Dance Presenting Series

MalpasoPlayMalpaso Dance Company of Havana • Featuring Indomitable Waltz by Aszure Barton
March 9, 10 and 11, 2017 • 7:30 p.m. Buy tickets