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« Overheard Illustrated: "Tattoo" A Fairly Serious Chat with Margaret Hicks »

Dance Tue Apr 26 2011

Reconstructing Storytelling with Mordine & Company

Mordine & Co ft. Atalee Judy, Adriana Marical, Mindy Meyers & Emma Draves_ photo by William Frederking.jpg

Photograph by William Frederking

The process of storytelling constantly evolves and adapts to the demands, technology, and forms of communication that dominate contemporary society. In the rehearsals for Mordine & Company Dance Theater's debut spring performance, LifeSpeak, Founder, Artistic Director, and choreographer Shirley Mordine undertook a similar approach to the development of her work. On a cold, gray, and blistery Monday afternoon, five women and one man took light direction from Mordine and manipulated the choreography already set in place in order to better tell the story behind the performance.

"The dance is itself. It could be quite different from where you started," Mordine said. "Similar to listening to music, you don't expect the music to be illustrative of what was just written on the paper. It's just a point of departure."

The task was a particularly meta endeavor as the themes for the performance include the process, act, and power of storytelling. Mordine drew on stories and personal anecdotes of the performers not only to tell the literal stories but also tell the "story" of storytelling. The performers' personal stories included ideas about finding nuance out of anger, the loss of a friend, reshaping and finding fluidity in one's identity, and the courage to find large scale on the dance floor.

"Developing that physical voice is about developing your courage," Mordine said. "If you can stand in the middle of the room and tell that story, that makes you a performer."
Mordine & Co ft. Adriana Marcial_ photo by William Frederking.jpg

Photograph by William Frederking

Dance can be both one of the most literal and the most abstract means of storytelling. It is no surprise then that the core performative aspect of the new show is constantly in a state of metamorphosis from one scene to the next, from one performer to the next.

"It was quite a process because most dancers are used to being given the material," said Mordine. "It took quite a while and quite a process for us to find out how to evolve stories on a kinetic level, and not be literal with what we do with movement."

This evolutionary practice extended to the musical accompaniment to the performance. Musician Shawn Decker attended rehearsals earlier that day to gauge the thematic elements of the show and developed his music to the storytelling of the performers. The music will be performed live on stage.

The choreography itself will encompass the entire floor, taking advantage of the space at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts. As a whole, the show aims to examine the process of assembling and disassembling or deconstructing and reconstructing information, the foundation of stories and storytelling. Out of a foundational routine come seemingly improvised movements that mimic the rapidly changing and observational nature of the stories and storytelling itself.

LifeSpeak premieres as part of NEXT 2011. Additional performances include a reprise of Shirley Mordine's 2009 work Illuminations, work from guest company RE|Dance featuring Lucy Vurusic Riner and Michael Estanich, as well as work from Alitra Cartman, selected to participate in Mordine & Company Dance Theater's 2011 Emerging Artist Mentoring Program. NEXT 2011 opens Friday, April 29 at 8pm and runs through Saturday, April 30. The Ruth Page Center for the Arts is located at 1016 North Dearborn. Tickets ($20 in advance, $22 at the door, and $15 for students and seniors) are available online or by calling 800-838-2006.

 
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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »

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