RE|Dance Group, The Cultural Center, and What Dancing Looks Like Beneath the Surface of the Earth (Preview)

Quarter Inch 1

I was a little bummed to spend part of a steamy Saturday at the Cultural Center rather than on the beach, but my visit to RE|Dance Group’s rehearsal was well worth the time away from my tanning regime. My late morning arrival was greeted by dancers rehearsing awhile and then a full run-through of their upcoming 1/4″ Below the Surface of the Earth.

The first few sections of the piece leave dancer Lauren Bisio apart from the five other women in the group, but as time goes on the mix-matchings of dancers grow, and there is little clarity provided as to who these dancers are and what their relationships are with each other. This surprised me because I knew RE to have theatrical tendencies, and 1/4″ is not that.  The hour long work choreographed by Michael Estanich (the “E” of RE) is all dance, littered with difficult passages heavily drawn from ballet technique. It asks a lot from its six dancers, and shows off training that we don’t often see from companies this size…

…I found this to be exciting and refreshing.

Quarter Inch 2In the middle of all that dancing are eight wind chimes strung from the ceiling of the dance studio at the Chicago Cultural Center. This rehearsal, only their second with the installation in place, revealed the high amount of risk involved. The chimes are noisy, unpredictable, and generally in the way. I felt like sometimes contact with the chimes was totally intentional – at others accidental – and I liked not always being able to tell which instances were which.

If that isn’t enough to pique your interest, 1/4″ Below the Surface is presented by the Cultural Center, and that means it’s free to you, the patron.  According to Estanich, the Cultural Center is trying to create more performance opportunities by presenting work in its three viable spaces.  Because the companies are paid a stipend by the City, they present the series with ticket prices of $0.

So go already.

RE|Dance Group presents their latest work, A ¼” Below the Surface of the Earth at the Chicago Cultural Center on Friday, July 26th and Saturday, July 27th 2013 at 6:30pm and Sunday July 28th  2013 at 2:00pm.  The Chicago Cultural Center is located at 78 E Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602. Tickets are free with RSVP. Seating is limited. For tickets make a reservation at Photos by Michael Estanich

Author: Lauren Warnecke

Lauren Warnecke is a reporter for NPR affiliate station WGLT and freelance arts and culture critic, primarily reviewing dance for the Chicago Tribune. Lauren enjoys cooking, cycling and attempting to grow things in her backyard. She lives in central Illinois.