COCo. Dance Theatre Makes Chicago Debut 11/2-4
The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago presents the Chicago debut of COCo. Dance Theatre, founded and directed by choreographer Cynthia Oliver, November 2-4 at the Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago.
Virago-Man Dem, Oliver's newest evening-length, experimental dance-theatre work, is a nuanced study in masculinities and their multiplicities within cultures of Caribbean and African-American communities. The work captures various masculinities through movement, spoken language and visual design and explores the expressions particular to Caribbean and African-American black masculinities as they are performed and expressed by men, staged on male bodies, but designed and interpreted by a woman. Virago-Man Dem is based on the lives of the men performing it-Duane Cyrus, Jonathan Gonzalez, Niall Noel Jones and NI'Ja Whitson-and asks, "How can a woman choreograph masculinity without resorting to stereotypes, but instead locate its nuances, challenges and ambiguities? Those very elements that black communities know so well and yet see rarely reflected in the culture at large?"
COCo. Dance Theatre and Cynthia Oliver
The mission of COCo. Dance Theatre is "to create dance theatre works that capture imaginations and engage audiences' aesthetic, intellectual and experiential sensibilities; to excavate our social, political and deeply personal selves and make folks laugh, cry, curse, shout and consider and reconsider what we each do everyday to negotiate the complex lives we live; to engage in conversation at its most rewarding levels; to touch souls." Cynthia Oliver has danced with Theatre Dance Inc. and the Caribbean Dance Company of St. Croix, Virgin Islands, and with numerous independent choreographers and companies, including the David Gordon Pick Up Co., Ronald Kevin Brown/Evidence, Bebe Miller Company (appearing at the Dance Center later this season) and Tere O'Connor Dance (which performed at the Dance Center in 2016). She creates performance collages that move from dance to word to sound and back again toward an eclectic and provocative dance theatre, incorporating textures of Caribbean performance with African and American aesthetic sensibilities. She is Professor of Dance at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.
The Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, in partnership with the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, presents a free panel discussion, "Performing Black Masculinities: Where, How and for Whom?," featuring Oliver and taking place Monday, October 30 at 7 p.m. at the Logan Center, 915 E. 60th Street, in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. In this public conversation, artists, activists and scholars present their work, offer up personal experiences and discuss places of intersection as they collectively address notions of black masculinity. The panel examines the ways black masculinities are activated across geography, generation and nationality and their relevance to sexualities, community, individuals and personhood. The panelists also include Columbia College Chicago Professor Raquel Monroe, Artist Roger Bonair-Agard and media personality Dometi Pongo. Activist Ayinde Jean-Baptiste will serve as moderator. Those interested in attending should RSVP to email@example.com.
There is a post-performance conversation with the artists Thursday, November 2 and a pre-performance talk with Cynthia Oliver Friday, November 3 at 6:30 p.m. at Sherwood Community Music School's recital hall, 1312 S. Michigan Ave. (next door to the Dance Center), both free to ticket holders. Additional residency activities with community partners and Columbia College Chicago students take place throughout the week leading up to the performance weekend.
The Dance Center presents COCo. Dance Theatre November 2-4 at the Dance Center,
1306 S. Michigan Ave. Single tickets are $30; subscribers to three or more performances
during the season and groups of 10 or more receive a 25 percent discount.
Tickets are available at 312-369-8330 and colum.edu/dancecenterpresents.
All programming is subject to change. The theatre is accessible to people with disabilities.
Virago-Man Dem is supported, in part, by the Edwards Foundation Arts Fund, the Multi Arts Production (MAP) Fund, Vermont Performance Lab, Gibney Dance, The University of Illinois, Dance at Illinois, the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography, New Waves Institute and Dancing While Black. The Dance Center's presentation of COCo. Dance Theatre is funded, in part by, the National Endowment for the Arts.
The Dance Center
The Dance Center's 2017-18 season begins with the return of Chicago Human Rhythm Project featuring a new work by Artist In Residence Dani Borak September 21-23, followed by Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group performing its newest work October 12-14 and Elevate Chicago Dance, a festival of diverse choreography, October 20 and 21. In 2018, Doug Varone and Dancers returns as part of its 30th anniversary season February 8-10; Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan brings its newest work to the Harris Theater for Music and Dance March 2 and 3; and the Process v. Product Festival features Chicago's Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak March 29-31 and Bebe Miller Company April 5-7. In addition, the B-Series, a free mini-festival of hip-hop and street dance forms, takes place October 27-28 and April 13-14.
The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago is the city's leading presenter of contemporary dance, showcasing artists of regional, national and international significance. The Dance Center has been named "Chicago's Best Dance Theatre" by Chicago magazine, "Best Dance Venue" by the Chicago Reader and Chicago's top dance venue in 2014 by Newcity, and Time Out Chicago cited it as "...consistently offering one of Chicago's strongest lineups of contemporary and experimental touring dance companies." Programs at the Dance Center are supported, in part, by the Alphawood Foundation, the MacArthur Fund for the Arts and Culture at Prince, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Martha Struthers Farley and Donald C. Farley Jr. Family Foundation, the Irving Harris Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by the New England Foundation for the Arts' National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, as well as the Arts Midwest Touring Fund, a program of Arts Midwest that is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional contributions from the Illinois Arts Council and the Crane Group. Special thanks to Friends of the Dance Center for their generous contributions to the Dance Center's work.