Dance companies perform inspirational, powerful art

By Kevin Bartelt

What do sunglasses, chaos and a paralyzed artist have in common? Ballet.

That’s right. Modern dance and contemporary ballet can take simple phrases and transform them into powerful art.

Last weekend, Danszloop Chicago and Collective Body Dance Lab presented Strings and Stones at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts in Chicago. Dance professor Paula Frasz is the artistic director of Danszloop Chicago, and dance professor Brian Carey Chung is the artistic director of Collective Body Dance Lab. Their years of experience showed through the performance.

This show contained two acts with five dances.

Let’s Pretend We’re All Wearing Sunglasses was my favorite dance that was created by Chung. The piece began with a dancer reciting poetry written by Chung. The poetry explored the concept of people trying to ignore the chaos in the world. The audience saw the chaos in many examples, especially the unequal rights of women.

“These women…they can’t even learn how to drive, and they need to ask for permission to leave the house,” a dancer said in a microphone.

The interesting thing about this performance was while one dancer was speaking into a microphone to the audience, seven other dancers were constantly performing. It added so much emotion to what the narrator was reciting that my inner Lady Gaga wanted to scream, “Yes!”

The inspiration behind this piece was the movie The Stoning of Soraya M. This film is based on the true story of the stoning to death of an innocent Iranian woman. Chung did an excellent job expressing the emotions of this film through the dance. Chung’s message was influential.

“People are desensitized,” Chung said. “They should be aware of what’s happening and they shouldn’t forget about things.”

This is seen as a dancer yells into the microphone, “What do you think about that? Do you want to unsubscribe from that?”

The show ended with the dance Frida, the story of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, an artist notorious for her self-portraits. Frasz created the choreography, and this was my favorite dance of hers because of its high energy. This dance was performed by Aerial Dance Chicago, a group composed of trained acrobats.

This dance was about Kahlo being paralyzed and becoming an artist by drawing on her own cast. As ropes eight feet in the air held up one dancer, representing the paralyzed Frida, another woman performed a lively dance on the stage, representing the liberated Frida.

Frasz summed up this performance with a quotation from Frida: “Why do I need legs when I have wings to fly?”

Nobody actually died on stage like in Black Swan, but the performance was just as impressive as Natalie Portman’s. Chung’s and Frasz’s creativity was amazing, and I really enjoyed the show.