Professor’s dance company to perform in Chicago, NYC

Sarah Contreras

New York-based creative think tank COLLECTIVE BODY | DANCELAB breezes back to Chicago next week to kick off its third season of dance and performance.

Founded by NIU’s own Brian Carey Chung, assistant professor of ballet, COLLECTIVE BODY | DANCELAB came to life in 2009. Since then, the Collective has produced innovative and diverse shows all over the country.

Chung’s achievements are impressive: Besides choreographing six original shows for the Collective, he has also been commissioned to create shows for Connecticut Ballet, Cedar Lake Ensemble II, Ballet Santa Barbara and others. Chung’s talents have been shared with students at universities such as Stanford and NYU’s Tisch School. He has taught in Hawaii, San Francisco, New York and Amsterdam.

As artistic director for the Collective, Chung explores many means of inspiration in order to create fresh, compelling works of art. The premiere shows of the Collective’s third season of performance, Let’s Pretend We’re All Wearing Sunglasses and Bloom, are prime examples of this.

According to the COLLECTIVE BODY | DANCELAB website, Let’s All Pretend We’re Wearing Sunglasses is inspired heavily by a viewing of the film The Stoning of Soraya M. Therefore, Let’s Pretend tackles themes of human apathy towards the abuse of women, environmental disintegration and legalized dog fighting.

As for choosing such a specific accessory to pretend to wear, “The sunglasses in Let’s Pretend We’re All Wearing Sunglasses symbolize our inability to know the truth, let alone tell it, and of the state of being in perpetual disguise,” Chung said. “The piece is about the disenfranchised and abused around the world, and how we are desensitized to even death and dying.”

According to the website, Bloom will focus on “the theme of betrayal from both religious and secular contexts.” It will explore both homo- and heterosexual relationships, analyzing the pattern of “bloom” and “fade” in romantic relationships.

This season, the Collective seeks to raise $10,000 to cover artists’ fees. Its Kickstarter page explains that public funding and grants through organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts have diminished greatly in light of the recent economic crisis. So far, backers have donated almost $3,500 to the cause.

COLLECTIVE BODY | DANCELAB will take the stage 8 p.m. Sept. 14 and 15 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts in Chicago. Tickets are available through