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Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble Receives $50K MacArthur Grant for THE MYCELIAL CYCLE


Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble Receives $50K MacArthur Grant for THE MYCELIAL CYCLE

Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble has announced that they are a recipient of the MacArthur International Collaborations Fund, a $50,000 grant awarded in collaboration with Erica Mott Production and Ezzat Ezzat Contemporary Dance Company for The Mycelial Cycle.

They are thankful to be one of nine Chicago area arts organizations to be granted this award by the MacArthur Foundation.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation today awarded grants to nine Chicago arts and culture organizations for diverse artistic exchanges in eight countries, including Mexico, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and the United Kingdom.

"Cross-cultural exchanges bring renewed perspective and vision to Chicago's vibrant arts and culture organizations," Chicago Commitment Director Tara Magner said. "International collaborations also help music, dance, art, and theater audiences understand other cultures better, offer a meaningful experience in a troubled world, and allow people to feel more connected to each other and their city."

The Mycelial Cycle began as a collaboration between Erica Mott Productions and Ezzat Ezzat Contemporary Dance Company with a residency exchange this past year that ended with a showing at High Concepts Laboratory.

The Mycelial Cycle is an interactive multimedia installation performance that investigates civic participation and social movements in the digital age, inspired by activists' use of social media during the 2011 occupation of Tahrir Square. Developed through a series of one-to-one cultural exchanges between American and Egyptian composers, computer programmers, dancers and new media artists, and augmented through local community workshops, The Mycelial Cycle will provide pathways to kinesthetic empathy and a platform for dialogue and deeper connection between local communities in Cairo and Chicago.

Mycelial - from the word "mycelium" - refers to the branching hyphae of a fungus, which form extensive communication networks that nourish entire forest root systems.

This metaphor aptly reflects the ethos of The Mycelial Cycle: creating a nourishing, multi-faceted network through the collaborative cultural production of three distinct companies of performance and media artists and their constituents. The artists aim to utilize the performers' bodies in real time to better understand collective living in a culture of instantaneity. By employing digital technology, dance and music, Mycelial will shine a light on different experiences of time as it relates to the body in action. This will serve as a catalyst towards dialogue, knowledge exchange and potential future relationship building between Egyptian and American dancers, musicians and coders.

Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble (CDE) has a history of engaging diverse Chicago communities through educational programs, workshops and performances that use the arts to encourage English literacy and cultural understanding. In light of recent political isolationism, the refugee crisis and proposed Muslim travel ban, CDE has become particularly interested in bridging local Chicago communities to the Arab world to reinforce Chicago's commitment to being a sanctuary city. The partnership with Erica Mott Productions (EMP) and collective exchange with Cairo-based Ezzat Ezzat Contemporary Dance Studio (EECDS) support the cross-pollination of new ideas and the sharing of vital resources between Chicago dance and theatre makers.

Between January 2018 and April 2018, CDE, EMP and EECDS will host a series of online video exchanges between Chicago and Cairo. These exchanges will develop creative content that respond to each other's choreography, a custom mobile device app and a live video feed that will be used in the final performance in July 2018. CDE will then look at how the 2011 occupation of Tahrir Square - the original inspiration behind the collaboration between EMP and EECDS - has inspired subsequent social movements like Occupy Wall Street and the Women's March using the same technologies.

The The Mycelial Cycle is a part of Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble's 17th season and will continue into their 18th season both themed "Art in Response."

Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble (CDE) celebrates their 17th performance season entitled, Art in Response. Art in Response focuses on the collection of voices of CDE and their response to the world. Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble's 17th performance season features new work, remounts and adaptations. CDE is one of the only multidisciplinary, arts organization creating works that elevate one voice, one story and one person at a time. Audiences should expect to feel challenged while watching a CDE performance leave feeling inspired. This 17th season promises to be honest and vulnerable, what CDE does best.

One Voice Series:

Vagina Monologues: A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer

Thursday, February 15, 2018 & Friday, February 16, 2018, 7:30pm

For their annual One Voice Series, CDE is pleased to restage the widely celebrated, A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer, edited by Eve Ensler, author of Vagina Monologues, and Mollie Doyle. A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer is a collection of monologues examining violence of all levels to women and girls. Directed by CDE Ensemble Member, Maggie Robinson and Kristin Cone, each monologue will be told fusing dance, theatre and multimedia. Hosted at Uncommon Ground Edgewater, CDE's presentation of their One Voice Series is benefit performance in support of both the V-Day and One Billion Rising campaigns, which drive to raise awareness around violence towards women and girls. All proceeds will be donated to a local women's charity in Chicago.

Women In Response

Fridays & Saturdays, March 9-17, 2018, 8pm

Women In Response is an evening of performances dedicated to the female's voice. Audience will experience an evening of multidisciplinary works fuse dance, theatre, visual art, and multimedia by female artists. CDE is committed to empowering and uplifting women to use their voice and share their experiences. In conjunction with the evening's performance, audiences can enjoy a pre-show gallery experience by local female artists and activists. Women in Response will feature works by Kelly Anderson Dance, Erica Mott (in collaboration with CDE) and Ensemble members, Isaura Flores and Maggie Robinson.

Art In Response

Fridays & Saturdays, May 4-19, 2018, 8pm

Directors, Ellyzabeth Adler and Sara Maslanka split the bill in Art In Response, featuring an evening of four works that are either new, in-process and Ensemble repertoire.

I Bet You Think This Dance is About You is an excerpt from a new project by Artistic Director, Sara Maslanka. I Bet You Think This Dance is About You is an exploration of perceptions and realities in attempt to understand how our experiences shape us. This first excerpt is initial exploration of movement and text based off a collection of poetry written in, milk and honey, by poet, Rupi Kaur.

HOPE is a new danztheatre work by Ellyzabeth Adler that asks us, what do we hold onto and where do we find hope at times of struggle, changing political climates and everyday realities. Weaving together stories, songs and inspirations of multiple generations, the common person is turned into an activist and shouts loudly "I have a voice!" The work is partially inspired by Studs Terkel's process of collecting stories of the every day person in his book "Hope Dies Last." Adler and the ensemble have collected through social media, books and interviews stories and songs that inspire people to become an activist in their communities.

Unraveling Bill (2006) tells the story of William Blake, a soldier who commits suicide after returning home for the Iraq war. The story is told through the eyes of soldier's sister, Theresa Blake, who is a close friend of CDE's Executive Director, Ellyzabeth Adler. Six ensemble members blended acting, dance, physical theatre, and music to tell the story. Theresa shares Bill's experience of returning home, separating from his wife, and eventually, without leaving a note, deciding to take his own life by laying down the American flag and shooting himself in the head. Not until she read her brother's journals from Iraq did she understand how much war changed him. The Blake's story ends with a dance choreographed to "Here and Not Coming Back," an original song written specifically for "Unraveling Bill" by Tim Hort and Executive Director, Ellyzabeth Adler in 2006. Unraveling Veterans has toured throughout Chicago and for special events at National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum, Chicago Park District, You Spoke/Suicide Prevention, Jane Addams Hull House and at CDE's Full Circle Festival.

Chapter 3: The Dinner Table is an expanded danztheatre work questioning and understanding the identity of a group seated at the dinner table. The work goes on to further ask how experiences from the dinner table translate from beyond the dinner table and into the world where coming together counts the most.Originally premiering in Consumed (2017), Sara Maslanka continues her investigation in technology, society and how we come together in the digital age. The third section of Consumed observed individuals return to the table, relearn to acknowledge each other and figure out how to move as one. Chapter 3: The Dinner Table borrows from personal experiences, observations and theories of synchronization and energetic vibrations visualize group intuition and interconnectedness.

Pictured: The current Ensemble of Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble. Photography by Anna Gelman.

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