Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Archives OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor


  WINDY CITY TIMES

DANCIN' FEATS Production aims to '[Trans]form' dance community
by Lauren Warnecke
2016-11-16

This article shared 345 times since Wed Nov 16, 2016
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Nothing Without a Company ( NWaC ) has been pushing the boundaries of live theater in Chicago since 2005, with a specific focus on creating artistic opportunities for LGBTQ voices and stories.

Anna-Rose li-Epstein started NWaC with her wife, Hannah; together, the couple was voted one of Windy City Times' 30 under 30 in 2014. The group's latest project is a collaboration with The Living Canvas, a company that creates live art by casting projections onto the nude form. In the 1980s, Pete Guither began using the human body as a canvas in his photography, and extended the idea to live performance in 2001 by "clothing" performers in light and projected images throughout an evening.

Actor/director Gaby Labotka is the link between the two companies, having worked for both, she brought the idea of a collaboration to Ii-Epstein, who immediately saw an amazing opportunity to provide a new type of platform for trans and gender non-conforming actors and performers. The result is [Trans]formation, a series of vignettes that premiering Nov. 17 at the Flat Iron Building that is devised and performed by transgender, genderqueer, intersex and non-binary artists in the style of The Living Canvas.

Professional dancer/choreographer Darling Squire ( aka Darling Shear ) made their debut with NWaC at the company's inaugural gala, in which Darling was crowned "Queen of the Dead" after a show-stopping burlesque performance. Darling recreates, re-stages and re-enacts characters from classic dance and film genres, but with a hermaphroditic lens. Upon coronation at NWaC's gala, they are now co-choreographing in [Trans]formation. In an interview with Windy City Times, Darling talked about how audience members are sometimes surprised by their dancing.

"I thought it was common knowledge that I dance, but I guess not," they said. "People are aware that I'm a dancer… they just don't know how much training I have." Darling attended North Springs Charter School of the Arts and Sciences in Sandy Springs, Georgia, training in ballet, modern, jazz and African dance, and later working a long list of reputable choreographers and learning Gaga, a popular style of contemporary dance developed by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin. Darling settled in Chicago in 2011, and their classical training continues to infuse their work as a performer. However, Darling's career transcends the typical dancer's path of performing with a company.

While the LGBTQ community is widely accepted and embraced by the dance community, it remains a largely heteronormative artform that is still hooked on clear delineations of masculine and feminine, and embraces stereotypical, binary ideas about gender. So for a classically trained, transgender and gender non-conforming dancers such as Darling, working with aesthetics ( and ideologies ) of many, if not most, choreographers constantly pits one's identity as a transgender person against one's identity as a dancer.

Fortunately, it doesn't have to be like that. Queer and gender non-conforming artists are driving a new dialogue in the theater and performance art worlds that confronts the stereotypes often present in dance, and Darling has found their voice as an artist in projects that are off the beaten path. But given their training and tremendous facility, I asked if they wished that companies were more accepting of transgender dancers. Did they opt for the avant-garde world out of choice or necessity?

"Back in the day, when I was a wee one," they said, "I always knew I'm a soloist. I can do group choreography and I love group choreography, but I'm a soloist. Working as a soloist gives Darling the freedom to use improvisation liberally, and like a baker kneading bread or a draper handling fabric, they would rather not overwork it. "I'll wait until I'm in the space to see where my body takes me," they said. "It's a little bit more genuine for me. I try to not touch it too much. ... [Dancing in a company] was never something that I actively wanted to do."

So it's a little ironic that the company called Nothing Without a Company recruited Darling, the dancer without a company, to work with it. Ii-Epstein and [Trans]formation director Labotka gave the ultimatum, daring Darling to show up at the first rehearsal. It was a wager that panned out, though Darling insists they would rather be behind the scenes. In keeping with Darling's choreographic values, the dancing in [Trans]formation is not entirely set; there's a clear structure for the group to follow, but room for improvisation to occur in the moment and some highlighting moments for the two other cast members who have dance training as well.

But what makes [Trans]formation different from everything else is use of nude trans and gender non-conforming bodies as a canvas. The performers represent a wide spectrum of bodies—in some cases bodies that do not match their gender identities. "This is addressed in the show," said Ii-Epstein, who goes on to explain that many of the performers identify as "they," do not subscribe to a male or female representation of their bodies, and therefore have no reason to cover or alter them. While most of the six performers will be fully nude, those who are transitioning may opt to cover parts of their bodies in flesh-colored tights to expose what they feel is a truer representation of their bodies. Though undressed, the images projected on the body are what clothe them, transforming their bodies into, well, pretty much anything they could dream of and building on the Living Canvas' mission to "celebrate and nurture the beauty and expressive power of all human bodies."

[Trans]formation runs through Dec. 17 at Collaboration Studios in the Flat Iron Arts Building, 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave. Each performance will conclude with a talkback, and an ( optional ) opportunity for audience members to join the cast and experience in what it feels like to be transformed as a living canvas—clothed or unclothed. Tickets are available at nothingwithoutacompany-thelivingcanvas-transformation.brownpapertickets.com/ .


This article shared 345 times since Wed Nov 16, 2016
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

'The Prom' out Dec. 11 on Netflix
2020-11-27
The Prom—a musical-comedy film directed by Ryan Murphy and adapted by Chad Beguelin and Bob Martin (from their and Matthew Sklar's 2018 Broadway musical of the same name)—will be out on Netflix on Dec. 11. The ...


Gay News

THEATER Harry Lennix to direct Dec. 13 reading of 'Mercy'
2020-11-20
Northlight Theatre will present an Interplay New Play Development Program reading of Mercy, written by Felicia Oduh and directed by Harry Lennix (known for his acting roles on TV shows such as The Blacklist and Billions ...


Gay News

Hubbard Street Dance presents surrealist film online Dec. 3, 5 and 6
2020-11-19
--From a press release - CHICAGO — Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (HSDC) continues its 2020/21 43rd season with a virtual premiere presentation of new work from former Hubbard Street dancer and acclaimed choreographer Jonathan Fredrickson ...


Gay News

Play development series seeks new plays authored by artists of color
2020-11-19
--From a press release - (Chicago, IL) Calling all bold, imaginative new plays authored by artists of color for Future Labs—Goodman Theatre's newest artistic program to develop works authored and directed by Black, Indigenous, Latinx, AAPI and other artists of co ...


Gay News

About Face Theatre starts 25th season with Kickback online short play fest
2020-11-18
--From a press release - CHICAGO (Nov 9, 2020) — About Face Theatre kicks off its landmark 25th season with KICKBACK, an online festival of newly commissioned short plays and performances by Black LGBTQ+ artists, inspired by the Rebuild Foundation's collections ...


Gay News

THEATER Lookingglass to present 'Her Honor Jane Byrne' on Nov. 26, 28
2020-11-17
Lookingglass Theatre Company, in collaboration with WBEZ 91.5 Chicago, will present a world-premiere audio play of Her Honor Jane Byrne, written and directed by Ensemble Member and Mellon Playwright in Residence J. Nicole Brooks. Her Honor ...


Gay News

MUSICALS 1997 version of Anyone Can Whistle out Dec. 4
2020-11-17
On Sunday, Dec. 4, Jay Records will release a 1997 recording of the musical Anyone Can Whistle, which originally had music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim as well as a book by Arthur Laurents. The production ...


Gay News

Hell in a Handbag to present Rip Nelson Holiday Quarantine Special
2020-11-13
CHICAGO (November 12, 2020) — Hell in a Handbag Productions celebrates the holidays with the return of America's favorite funnyman, Rip Nelson (Ed Jones*), in the star-studded world premiere of ...


Gay News

THEATER Pride Arts artistic director resigns; PFP keeps Zak
2020-11-12
Two controversial developments have occurred at Pride Arts (in which Pride Films & Plays, PFP, is the main tenant). According to a letter from PrideArts President Cheri Tatar that Windy City Times obtained, PFP Artistic Director ...


Gay News

THEATER Andre De Shields to help celebrate youth Dec. 9
2020-11-11
Andre De Shields—a Grammy-, Emmy- and Tony-winning actor, director and educator, and the 2019 "Triple Crown" winner for his portrayal of Hermes in Hadestown—will be the keynote speaker of the Victory Gardens Theater event "Voices of ...


Gay News

Theater community to offer online plays, musicals, dance, comedy for holidays
2020-11-10
--From a press release - Chicago, IL (November 10, 2020)— The Chicago theater community will produce a wide variety of online festive plays, musicals, dance and comedy offerings this Holiday season. Theatre venues in Chicago and across the world remain closed ...


Gay News

A Red Orchid Theatre appoints Travis Knight, Sadieh Rifai to new positions
2020-11-10
--From a press release - CHICAGO, IL—A Red Orchid Theatre announces the appointments of Ensemble Member Travis Knight as Associate Artistic Director and Ensemble Member Sadieh Rifai as Artistic Development Coordinator. Ensemble member Shade Murray ...


Gay News

Theater excellence honored with 52nd annual Equity Awards
2020-11-10
--From a press release - Nov. 9, 2020 — CHICAGO — In its 52nd annual celebration of theater excellence, the Jeff Awards has recognized 39 recipients for the 2020 awards, selected from among 142 theater artist nominees across 30 artistic and ...


Gay News

The African American Arts Alliance announces 2020 Black Excellence Awards
2020-11-05
--From a press release - Chicago, IL—The African American Arts Alliance (AAAA) will host the 20th annual Black Excellence Awards, an evening celebrating Black artists, Black voices, and Black stories across artistic disciplines, on November 10, 2020 at 7pm. The 2020 ...


Gay News

Joffrey Ballet to offer virtual Nutcracker
2020-11-03
--From a press release - CHICAGO — With the cancellation of The Joffrey Ballet's annual engagement of Christopher Wheeldon's critically acclaimed version of The Nutcracker in 2020, the Joffrey is pleased to announce a myriad ...


 



Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Archives OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.