Last weekend at The Dance Center of Columbia College, Same Planet Different World Dance Theatre under the direction of Artistic Director Joanna Rosenthal, and Peter Carpenter Performance Project came together for an exquisitely curated show. October 10-12 at 8 pm, audiences had the chance to see three world premieres by three different choreographers, all on the same bill.
Rosenthal's Whiteout started the night with an excellent buffet, showing off the best of the best in Chicago artist collaborators. Appetizers and side dishes came to Whiteout in the form of Philip Elson's sound editing and Gordon Granger's set design. Extra sweet deserts were Julie Ballards lighting design (especially dynamic in this work, really taking a front and center role), and Petra Bachmaier of LUFTWERK's video projections. But the main course came in the form of Vin Reed's recognizable stylings in the costume department and of course, the tight and strong cast of dancers (with an extra captivating performance by Sarah Gonsiorowski, I couldn't take my eyes off her). Simply listing the names and contributions of all of these collaborators is not enough though. Rosenthal's choices in collaborators were well executed and perfectly chosen like a good wine paired to compliment a fresh salad and a steak. Her choice to use utter silence in parts of the piece expanded the work as the lack of noise made the Dance Center stage feel even more vast than it already is. Choices choices choices, and good ones carried this piece all the way through.
Though Whiteout was a hard act to follow, Peter Carpenter's Rituals of Abundance for Lean Times #10: Entanglements of Power was the true highlight of the program. Not only did Carpenter have the cream of the crop in regards to cast (Margi Cole, Lisa Gonzalez, Matthew McMunn, and Carpenter himself), but he pulled on their strengths as performers to hone moments that gave a totally unsubtle, rockstar product. Placing audience members on a stool in front of the stage, Carpenter plays at the power of the stage, the power of those three walls that exist before the fourth is broken. Also, other, less obvious tactics at examining power include the power of the microphone, as the speaker holds the attention of everyone as he or she narrates the action. I don't know how he does it, but all I can give is rave reviews each time Carpenter flexes his choreographic finesse in the fine tuned nuances of his works. He's a genius and I think I speak for many when I hope that #10 is far from the last of the Rituals.
Finally, guest choreographer for Same Planet Different World Dance Theater, Netta Yerulshamy presented her light-hearted and funny work, rounding out the bill and delivering smiles to audience faces. Beginning with dancers in the audience space, just off the apron of the stage, staring, unmovingly until audience uncomfortably shifts around in their seats, The Force Backwards continues to surprise with one unconventional, un-concert-dancey choice after another. Dancers peer around the wings, tease the audience by sticking out just a foot from the backstage area, charge towards the audience in one straight line, step off the stage, and fall down flat on their backs. Yerulshamy's work shines not for any groundbreaking intellectual challenges, but more for it's cheeky and entertaining pace, and again, it's strong cast of dancers.