Honorable mentions: Best dance visits | 2011 in review

  • Photograph: Courtesy of 50 Collective / DEFIBRILLATOR

    50 Collective

  • Photograph: Howard Schatz

    Pilobolus dancers embody Atlas.

  • Photograph: Bryan Snyder

    Mark Morris Dance Group in Petrichor

  • Photograph: Courtesy of Gim Gwang Cheol

    Gim Gwang Cheol

  • Photograph: Th��tre T & Cie / Albert Rudnicki

    Cirque �loize iD

  • Photograph: Max Herman

    The Red Bull BC One U.S. Qualifier

  • Photograph: Mila Reynaud Photography

    Vangeline in The Chanteuse and the Devil�s Muse

  • Photograph: Josef Astor

    Richard Move as Martha Graham

  • Photograph: Yi-Chun Wu

    Performers in Wallstories, by Nejla Yatkin

  • Photograph: Courtesy of the Chicago International Film Festival

    Ditta Miranda Jasifi in Vollmond by Pina Bausch

Photograph: Courtesy of 50 Collective / DEFIBRILLATOR

50 Collective

As noted in [node:15052687 link=our year-in-review article;] for the latest issue of Time Out Chicago, what we loved most about dance in 2011 was its steady supply of pleasant surprises. We ran out of room to list them all, but thanks to borderless online real estate, [node:15039945 link=we can share some honorable mentions;].

In particular, we were paid many memorable visits by fabulous folks from around the world. In no particular order, here are 10 top gifts from terrific travelers (click through the links below to read more about each artist or show):

  • 50 Collective In May, the Passing Through project [node:14752247 link=passed through Chicago;]. What began as a group strolling the perimeter of an empty room gathered momentum until some dancers were running up the walls. Little effort was made to make a small, scattered audience feel safe. Then, as gradually and as mysteriously as it had begun, 50 Collective’s dance storm subsided and the group went back on the road.

  • Rushes, by [node:166131 link=Robby Barnett;], Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak for Pilobolus Dance Theatre Twenty-eight days into 2011, we caught a Pilobolus performance at the Harris Theater. While older works such as Walklyndon (1971) and Duet (1992) proved resilient, newer pieces felt formulaic. Show closer Rushes (2007), however, was unlike anything we’d ever seen, with a centerpiece sequence of sliding chairs that was spatially symphonic.

  • Socrates, by Mark Morris A month later, we returned to the Harris to see [node:249061 link=a triple bill by Mark Morris Dance Group;] of dances from 2010. And again, the show’s finale brought a uniquely engaging experience, a painterly frieze set to Satie, with supertitles.

  • Gim Gwang Cheol The first of three dance and performance-art head-to-heads at DEFIBRILLATOR in October paired local choreographer Michelle Kranicke with Korean artist Gim Gwang Cheol. We only caught the last of their three hours of exploration, but Gwang floored us with his alternately tender (wrapping detritus in cellophane) and aggressive (throwing wads of unwound steel measuring tape at observers) choices. Few performers are as vibrantly committed to the moment.

  • Cirque Éloize iD Proving [node:94202 link=yet again;] that Montréal is the global capital of circus arts, the streetwise spectacular known as Cirque Éloize iD yanked our eyeballs out of our heads at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in late April. Often without harnesses, the performers executed stunts of which we’d never dreamt. The breakdancers’ endless head spins looked like special effects; two months later, Cirque du Soleil seemed tame.

  • Red Bull BC One U.S. Qualifier It was hot inside the Aragon Ballroom on July 24. Really fucking hot. Also hot: [node:14865773 link=The in-fucking-sane feats of 16 top B-boys;] vying for a ticket to world championships last month in Moscow, where San Francisco’s Roxrite beat Lil G of Venezuela.

  • Vangeline During one of the last weekends of 2011, this NYC artist visited Chicago to teach workshops and perform with [node:14850255 link=Chicago’s Ginger Krebs;] at DEFIBRILLATOR. Her solo, SPECTRAL, which she performed shaking violently, in a heavy white dress, holding a piece of twine and with both eyes rolled back into her skull, was bone-chilling.

  • Richard Move as Martha Graham August’s fifth annual, free Chicago Dancing Festival [node:14917457 link=was a triumph for many reasons;], not least of which was that it introduced us to the perfectly executed [node:14895257 link=resurrection of a modern-dance icon by a smartypants performance-artist from rural Virginia via New York City;].

  • Nejla Yatkin’s Wallstories Fringe festivals are hit-or-miss basically by definition, [node:14920551 link=and Chicago’s is no exception;]. While its dance offerings this year left much to be desired, we were fortunate to finally see [node:14920491 link=this nuanced remembrance of the Berlin Wall;].

  • Pina Wim Wenders’s 3-D Pina Bausch film began production as a collaboration with the German choreographer, but wrapped as a eulogy of sorts. At the [node:14973959 link=Chicago International Film Festival;] in October, we watched it through tears.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)