Opposites Attract in Paige Caldarella’s ‘Off Center’

CHICAGO — Can different genres of dance co-exist in a performance space? The question isn’t new, but each attempt at an answer produces widely different results.

In her final outing as a Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist, Paige Caldarella fashions a relationship between ballet and vogue, calling on her background as a Julliard trained dancer and a voguing class in Siberia with Damon Green when they were Seldoms together.



Dancers Philip Elson and Jess Duffy in ‘Off Center’ | Photo by William Frederking

Caldarella has spent the last year with dancers Green, J’Sun Howard, Jess Duffy, and Philip Elson exploring and celebrating the surprising similarities shared by contemporary ballet and vogue. Being contemporary forms that are continually evolving, each lives on the edge of control, exposing the dancers to risk and vulnerability in each performance. “Both forms require great flexibility of the body and absurd amounts of coordination in the arms and legs,” says Caldarella.

Though the celebration of similarities is well and good, I’m interested to see how Off Center handles the dissonance between vogue and ballet. Voguing is relatively new to the proscenium stage, while ballet has existed there for hundreds of years. Vogue revels in the mistakes, the mess, the fringe, while ballet thrives on rule compliance and images of perfection.

Perhaps we can both learn from each other.

Perhaps that journey starts here.

Off Center premieres Nov 8-10 at Links Hall (3111 N. Western) at 7pm all nights. Tickets are $10/$5 available at the door or online at linkshall.org

Author: Lauren Warnecke

Lauren Warnecke is a freelance writer and editor, focused on dance and cultural criticism in Chicago and across the Midwest. Lauren is the dance critic for the Chicago Tribune, editor of See Chicago Dance, and founder/editor of Art Intercepts, with bylines in Chicago Magazine, Milwaukee Magazine, St. Louis Magazine and Dance Media publications, among others. Holding degrees in dance and kinesiology, Lauren is an instructor of dance and exercise science at Loyola University Chicago.