notes from a journey through Chicago's cultural landscape...

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

...this is not about me, this is about my city - a living document of Chicago's art's scene, a memoir of concerts I've been to & performances I've seen, a jaded scribe's small sampling of the many offerings of this vibrant cosmopolitan city that I'm lucky enough to call home. I work the city as the city works me, all of us connected in varying degrees, here i pay tribute to our evolving soundtrack, I plug praiseworthy endeavors & try to give a little back... Together with my peers we paint this crossroads with every shade we can find, in your mediums & mine, i run with deep house deviants & wrinkled blues cats, youngun' b-boy crews & quirky circus brats, snobby eclectic DJs & electric painters laboring on projected displays, film makers armed with mini-DVs & picky chefs sculpting tricky masterpieces out of vegan grease... i kick it with slam poets & theater geeks, powerbook producers & fashionista freaks, photoshop fellowships & choreographer hips, while jazz cats blow digital epics through pursed bebop lips... i'm at the nexus of the next wave of Chicago sound - this is where i share the stories of all the beauty I've found...

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Aerial Aloft Dance @ the Circus Factory

I spent an hour tonight at the Circus Factory checking out the newest anti-gravity stylings of Shayna Swanson and her crew of aerialist aestheticians. It’s been well over a year since I’ve been in that space, a unique high-ceilinged hall that is the home of both a Wu Shu academy and Chicago’s own Midnight Circus, a beautiful crew of clowns, jugglers, and well-schooled acrobats that I was blessed to stumble across a few years ago. Took a few classes with Shayna @ the Circus Factory…woman had me dangling by my ankles off a spinning trapeze with rope burns like love bites on every exposed limb… The form requires an unwavering tolerance for vertigo that my stomach couldn’t handle and the experience pushed my willingness to part with skin for the sake of beauty. Still, the sight of bodies spinning in ultra-smooth spirals is one of the most exquisite visions dance has to offer an audience, and the sheer strength required of aerialists inspires respect. A form that demands refined physical attunement at all times weeds out everyone but the truly devoted spirits determined to move beyond natural physical limitations. Honestly, though, aerial dance wasn’t really quite for me… …I’m more of an earthbound stepper / flimsy capoerista than anything more evolved… But that doesn't mean i can't appreciate the beauty of other artist's chosen forms... to each their own…

5 Pieces from 5 Dancers under the collective title:
“variations on a single point”

1…on Kimberly Olsen-Wheeler’s “break free”
…calls to mind the Buddhist definition of Bardo:
“A gap, a suspension between states of stillness and hard flow…”
two seams of red fabric entwining an inverted torso
a shining white soul screaming sweetly for a sustained release
held rapt within a double-helix by dual blood-colored glow…
symmetrical extensions unfold, fast falls from grace then sequential climbs:
nine inch nails remixed with knot tricks draped in crimson cloth vines
where the fabric ends and the body begins the weight streams off
she weaves a tale out of hard positions that seem soft
concave spinal curvature caused by pull from above
she craves freedom from the commitments that gravity is composed of…

2…on Claudia Finn’s “Fist”
pole issues and self-punishment publicly conducted in loud silence
the feminine receptive’s firsthand knowledge of manufactured violence
rope friction and coping with self-scripted fictions
what is proud to be unfettered gets wrapped in restrictions
there is no real freedom that is not struggled for
the body is repeatedly split along axis until it yields the hardcore
the cold steel feel of randomly encountered parts charts the evolution of confrontational art
there is a certain peace to be found by purging anger’s pollution from the heart…

3…on Shayna Swanson’s “anti-“
…godDAMN this girl’s got GUNS…
everytime she flexes my first impulse is to RUN…
a slow deliberate tango, a dancer's duet with a static trapeze
a professional’s nonchalance, a partner’s familiar ease
deep spirals script signatures using this woman’s frame
even after she stops spinning her tracings remain
witness the pain body awareness of an elevated soul
with this blackness as backdrop she navigates higher thresholds
skin stripped raw revealing rippled layers of tone
dangling from clenched claws, an skeletal epic inked by linked bones
hurt replaced with grace and a curling taint of defiance
senses swirling around the bittersweet taste of a furious self-reliance…

4…on Jenn Liang’s “out of the daily grind”
logical frames born from hard cubicle angles
multiple levels & flat planes & accessories that dangle
reinforcing negotiable bonds within whitewashed walls
building ties with skilled hands, a set of programs installed
a squarish peg forced into an oblong hole
the status quo structure determines everyone’s role
whole weeks wasted waiting for the clock to escape
the captive mind daydreams a beyond that the body makes…

5…on Gail Coover’s “goddess ascending”
ancient psalms & clean white robes
glittery hair above wide eyes that probe
the angelic layer thrown aside to reveal day-glow stitching
a swift and vicious alteration – criminally deliberate archetype switching
from the unspoiled virgin to blood streaks etched in lines down legs
from a vision of innocence to a spectacle of Gaia’s monthly dregs
the theatrical impact transcends the crafty skills
the meaning delivered marinated & impeccably distilled
a priestess in profile working the magic of the veil
a Technicolor temple concealed behind an impossibly idealistic pale
leave behind the temporary stigma of the stains
& the strength of the immortal awareness remains…

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