Zephyr Dance Launches Experimental SITE/less Space
Zephyr Dance Artistic Director Michelle Kranicke and architect David Sundry are exploring the intersection of architecture and choreography with the creation of SITE/less, an experimental gallery/ performance/workplace and community gathering space located at 1250 W. Augusta Blvd., Chicago. SITE/less will officially open in late April 2018 with performances by Zephyr Dance.
SITE/less will exist within a storefront that has ancillary relationships to a variety of urban crossroads and infrastructures, anchoring the edge of a small triangular residential community between Chicago's West Town and Noble Square neighborhoods. As an experimental architecture, dance, and research center, SITE/less will itself be performative and use an architectural approach that serves to stage a program of intended activities while, at the same time, employing a structure that is open to unplanned social interactions and chance events.
Said Kranicke, "As artists involved with the critical debates and ongoing negotiation concerning the state of contemporary artistic practices, we aim for the site and the center itself to pose such questions as: When and how does an institution both define and restrict the local community? How does SITE/less shift fixed ideas of dance in a gallery space? What is the interaction between dance and architecture? Is there a way to facilitate expanded ideas within both dance and architecture through a persistent interface? Even though architecture and dance are embodied forms, they have many independent attributes. The idea behind SITE/less is to force dance and architecture to continually consider each other as disciplines."
Along with the development of movement-based work, Kranicke will work with Sundry, her husband, to create an environment that brings viewers back into dialog with their surroundings, opening opportunities for various viewpoints to emerge in an unconstrained and unencumbered way through interaction and engagement. "SITE/less is not striving for the overthrow of existing cultural frameworks and disciplines. The goal is debate, which serves to highlight the micro-histories of these artistic disciplines and therefore possibly re-establish them in a new way," Sundry explained.
SITE/less will be an incubator, a laboratory, a physical structure, a dance, and a place where distinct art forms can speak directly to each other. In addition, SITE/less aims to facilitate connection with the public and promote social interaction by creating a non-typical arena to host non-art events such as community meetings and pop-up dinners. The center will work to establish an open gathering zone not unlike a reading room, Internet hotspot location, long-term art installation, or other types of public space located within a private building.
"Architecture and choreography share two structures: linear time and the organization of the movement of bodies in space," noted Sundry. "Positioned as an experimental architecture, movement, and research center, SITE/less seeks to rethink the relationship between the typical model of most performance venues and how the organization of those venues inevitably limits and conditions the curatorial practice."
"Connection is the life blood of art, and SITE/less will situate itself in the landscape of other venerable institutions in Chicago, provide another venue for experimental time-based work, and create opportunities for the center to engage with a broader community of artists and architects. We look forward to the official opening in April and the many new opportunities for interaction," said Kranicke.
Zephyr is an experimental dance company with a strong artistic presence in Chicago for more than 20 years. Zephyr pushes to the edge of the discipline to question current trends in dance making and the reduction of the art form to its most quantifiable, easily recognized patterns. Zephyr works to critically investigate the overreliance on virtuosity, popular definitions and/or understandings of dance and the tendency to lean on narrative to inform the abstract nature of movement without confronting the history/meaning of that movement. Zephyr considers the interaction between performer and viewer and the movement possibilities that arise through that interaction. The company stages its performances in various spaces, from the proscenium stage to large auditorium spaces to galleries, to allow viewers choices in how they encounter, and engage with, movement. The results are works that transform the atmosphere of a space with rich images, sensual movements and unexpected occurrences. For a history of Zephyr, visit zephyrdance.com/about/history.
David Sundry is a design/build architect who has been constructing single-family homes, small offices and mixed-use spaces in Chicago since 1989. He is the founder and president of Triple O Construction, a small design/build construction company, and O Group, Inc., its partnering architecture studio in association with Lyle Haag Engineering. Sundry's architectural/environmental designs for Zephyr include The Balance in Between; Out and Back in Again: an immersive environment of movement, sound and image; Allowances and Occurrences; and Broken Time. He has been collaborating with Zephyr Artistic Director Michelle Kranicke, serving as dramaturge and advising on the architectural and painterly aspects of movement, since 2000. His buildings have been featured in Chicago magazine, Chicago Social and Better Homes and Gardens. He received a BFA in fine arts from the University of Notre Dame and an MFA in painting from Pratt Institute in New York.
Photo of Zephyr Dance's Valise 13, with dancers Michelle Kranicke (foreground) and Molly Strom, by Jamie Padgett.