Hope Goldman takes flight in ‘Birds in Paradise’ (preview)

Birds in Paradise | photo credit: Matthew Gregory Hollis
Birds in Paradise | photo credit: Matthew Gregory Hollis

I’ve been associating shiny colored swishy pants with choreographer Hope Goldman for a really long time.

Her first ever evening length concert, Birds in Paradise, has gone through many iterations, but a few things have remained constant: the cast, the concept, and those fabulous swishy pants.

Goldman’s cast of four women (Jessica Cornish, Alana Parekh, Cheryl Cornacchione Nowlin, and Megan Klein) have been so ingrained in the process of Birds in Paradise that much of the creative credit is given to them. Goldman labels herself as the director and brainchild of the piece (rather than the choreographer), so while the work is sewn together by her, the pieces of fabric come from the dancers.  “This women’s quartet is distinctly female and many times creature-like as the performers tap into a cardinal physicality. The movement is rich and thick with a strong connection to the earth, performed from the inside out, and released in waves through the dancers’ spines,” says Goldman.

I viewed Birds in progress last spring at Outerspace‘s Research Project #4, and was instantly drawn to the insatiable weirdness that slowly unfolds. Nonchalant “I love you, I hate you” relationships slowly emerge between the dancers. Undulating torsos, finger twiddling, chin pecking, modern dancey pops and locks… the gestures allude to the feathered fowl of the title, but the weird and fantastical world Goldman creates seems much much more than an avian manifest.

Birds in Paradise takes place Sept. 11 – 14, 7:30pm  at Collaboraction’s Pentagon Theater in the Flat Iron Arts Building (1579 N Milwaukee #336, Chicago, 60622). Tickets are $12, available online or cash at the door.

Author: Lauren Warnecke

Lauren Warnecke is a freelance dance critic, contributing to the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Magazine. She is senior editor of See Chicago Dance. Lauren covers dance across the Midwest and writes regularly for Dance Magazine and Pointe with additional bylines in Milwaukee Magazine, St. Louis Magazine and Dance Teacher. Forthcoming publications include essays on ballet training in Chicago (University of Illinois Press) and Shirley Mordine (University of Akron Press). In 2020, Lauren published an opinion piece on the impact of COVID-19 on the arts in the South African journal Agenda. Lauren holds degrees in dance and kinesiology and has presented research on dance training practices at the National Dance Education Organization and the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science. She has co-facilitated critical dance writing intensives in Chicago and Durban, South Africa, and participated in writing residencies at the National Center for Choreography, Bates Dance Festival and JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience. Lauren teaches dance history and kinesiology for dancers, with part-time appointments at Loyola University Chicago and Illinois Wesleyan University.