Christopher Preissing Looks to his Past in “The Four Attic Windows”

Shortly after his excellent collaboration with Kristina Isabelle in The Floating City last year, composer Christopher Preissing did not take any time to rest. Four antique maps inspired his suite for solo piano called The Four Attic Windows. Preissing was set to launch the new work and accompanying dance created by choreographer Enid Smith a few weeks later, when a serious accident involving pianist David Kalhous sidelined the project days before its premier.AW-2014banner2

Almost exactly twelve months later,  The Four Attic Windows returns, for real this time, with the original pianist Kalhous and a new cast of dancers (Smith with Melissa Sanchez and Alex Powers). Dating from the 1860’s, Preissing’s maps were left to him as an inheritance from an uncle, who claimed they contained secrets about the history of the United States (secrets the uncle would take to his grave).  Rather than embark on a Nicholas Cage style treasure hunt in search of conspiracy theories on the Liberty Bell, Preissing dove into the maps as a conduit for creation.

His collaborator Smith took a similar tact in creating movement to accompany Preissing’s piano score. Though Smith often choreographs dances that are dictated to the dancers in the more traditional sense, in this instance she used the maps as a choreographic tool foreach dancer to work with.

“I didn’t choreograph a solo for each dancer.  Instead I provided an assignment for developing the common threads and then a separate assignment for creating each dance.  My job has been less that of choreographer and more that of task master and ring leader.  The dancers have had a huge amount of input into these dances.” Enid Smith

David Kalhous plays The Four Attic Windows live alongside the dance, in addition to William Brooks’ “The Walk to the Tarn”, an impression of a walk in England’s Lake District including live video projection of the pianist’s hands.

The Four Attic Windows runs October 25th, 7:30pm, at the Pianoforte Studios (1335 South Michigan Ave) and October 26th, 7:30pm at Dance Center Evanston (1934 Dempster St, Evanston). Tickets are $10-20, available online at The program is preceded by a panel discussion with the artists, and is part of Chicago Artists Month.
The 19th Annual Chicago Artists Month highlights the work of hundreds of artists throughout Chicago with performances, exhibitions, open studios, tours and neighborhood art walks. September 27 – October 31, 2014, Chicago Artists Month (CAM) will invite residents and visitors to meet artists and see their work at venues across Chicago. CAM is presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events in collaboration with the Chicago Park District and numerous community partners.