Marc Chagall’s paintings, murals and stained-glass windows are full
of lively swirling imagery. So it’s no surprising that his work might
For WBEZ, dance critic Lucia Mauro provides the details:
Chicagoans have close ties to prolific 20th century artist Marc Chagall through his stained class work, America Windows. These evocative panels, in circular strokes of multi-textured blues, were recently reinstalled at the Art Institute of Chicago.
But it seems a pleasant coincidence that two local dance companies are
highlighting works that recall the blissful whimsy of Chagall’s
Lin Shook, artistic director of Perceptual Motion,
became enamored with the painter’s surreal glimpse at the City of
Lights. His 1913 painting titled "Paris through the Window," catapulted
the choreographer into a topsy-turvy universe of upside-down trains, a
lone parachutist, a cat with a human face and window frames that explode
with intense primary colors.
Perceptual Motion is a
multigenerational modern dance company, whose members range in age from
23-91. In Shook’s new quartet, titled "Through the Window," 91-year-old ensemble member Inger Smith enters with two children and proceeds to watch four women dancers through a glass.
instead of recreating Chagall’s fanciful canvas, Shook has her dancers
embody its illogical spirit. Moreover, they take on the anxious and
unpredictable sensibility of children in a playground. The performers
are clad in circus-like costumes, the color of cherry red, midnight
blue, emerald green and lemon yellow. They resemble the hues of the
Twister game floor mat.
It’s a joyous, uninhibited excursion
across the ever-active bodies and minds of children set to high-energy
Kurdistan folk music. The dancers literally tumble onto the stage and
morph into tightrope walkers. They cartwheel, do flips and somersaults
and even form a “London Bridge” archway with their arms. They mirror
Chagall’s talent for mixing up animals, landscapes and people in a
celebratory collage of the imagination.
The next performance takes
inspiration from the dream-like sensations Chagall’s work provokes.
Chagall, a painter of Belarusian-Jewish heritage who lived in France,
preserved the fond memories of his childhood village through paintings
of fiddlers, livestock, birds and floating brides. They seem to drift by
like the images passing across Dorothy’s window after the tornado hits
Kansas in The Wizard of Oz. These fantastical juxtapositions
naturally recall dream states. And that’s the impetus behind San
Francisco-based choreographer Julia Adam.
ballet being performed by the Joffrey dancers, takes its lush and
fractured imagery from dreams. She subtly references the canvases of
Chagall in movements that include lifts with broken balletic lines and
capricious suspensions. A woman awakens and is carried aloft by a man
representing the disembodied forces of dreams. She seems to float
through space. The pair then embarks on dangerous see-saw lifts with
split seconds of free fall to reflect a sensation of falling or being
Both Perceptual Motion and the Joffrey Ballet carry
audiences through Marc Chagall’s fleeting and profoundly whimsical
Perceptual Motion performs "Through the Window" on Thursday and Friday evening at the Hamlin Park Fieldhouse Theater.
The Joffrey Ballet will be performing "Night" May 4-15 at The Auditorium Theatre in Chicago.
Visit the above link for the audio version.
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