Chicago Dancemakers Forum announces 2012 Lab Artists

  • Photograph: John W. Sisson Jr.

    Paige Cunningham in One Careless Gesture Away from Destruction

  • Photograph: Craig Bortmas

    Kristina Isabelle

  • Photograph: John W. Sisson, Jr.

    Mark Jeffery

  • Photograph: Eileen Ryan

    Victor Alexander Ramirez

Photograph: John W. Sisson Jr.

Paige Cunningham in One Careless Gesture Away from Destruction

Artists receive grants all year ’round. Two things make the Chicago Dancemakers Forum’s annual announcement news. Representatives from three key cultural institutions here, plus two independent artists, choose together the four Lab Artists who receive $15,000 each, plus professional development support; and as you can glean from the list of prior recipients by year, CDF tends to choose artists on the cusp of breaking out. Perhaps that’s backward; maybe Lab Artists break out as a result of the program’s assistance. Either way, it’s proven itself central to Chicago’s contemporary choreography scene. (Disclosure: I write a series of essays for CDF, in conjunction with its Salon series of discussions and lectures.)

Paige Cunningham, who’s performed with the Seldoms and Same Planet Different World among other projects, will spend her Lab Artist year exploring an intersection between vogueing and classical ballet. Kristina Isabelle, artistic director of her eponymous dance company and director of HighJinks Productions, will look at “transitional places through the lens of magical realism” for The Floating City. Mark Jeffery, a live-art ambassador, installation artist and more, will collaborate as often before with Judd Morrissey, on a piece that “will blend the crudeness of early surgery with the prevailing, 21st-century vision of a body enhanced by data.” And dancer-choreographer Victor Alexander Ramirez, who’s appeared with many local companies including Hedwig Dances, will draw upon his training in Cuba for Longing, made in partnership with textile artist Deborah Valoma.

CDF consortium members are Margi Cole, Ginger Farley, and representatives of the Dance Center of Columbia College, Museum of Contemporary Art and Links Hall. Its next Salon conversation, “Do Labels Matter?” will be held March 26 from 6–8pm at DEFIBRILLATOR (1136 N Milwaukee AveVisit: Admission is free with R.S.V.P. to On March 24, catch free screenings curated by Jeffery from 11am–2pm at Dance Films Kino at the Hyde Park Art Center (5020 S Cornell Ave).

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)