Triplicate is hot and humid (review)

CHICAGO — With each passing year, the gaggles of new Dance Center of Columbia College grads brings the inevitability of at least one coming out concert at DIY venues across the city. The class of 2016 shows promise as it enters the real world, teeming with talent, if not confidence. Triplicate featured three such young grads, who presented a trio of works last weekend. Shanna Fragen, Brenna Ginsberg and Dalton Rhodes piled their resources together for a brief, but substantive and well-produced summer evening at the hot and steamy Hamlin Park Theater.

(Clockwise from right) Brenna Ginsberg, Dalton Rhodes and Shanna Fragen | photo by Max Johnson

In each piece we saw themes related to intimacy and agency. Ginsberg’s Meat.Meet.Me. is a solo in three distinct parts. Though it goes on longer than it has to, Ginsberg is an exceptional mover whose coy sexuality in the first section (via a clever additive phrase incorporating model walks and hip-popping poses) spirals into a more vulnerable, and perhaps honest, expression of herself.

Shanna Fragen addresses female sexuality and indulgence more directly in Turn On, a quintet of woman whose movements draw from Graham and Gaga with gestural and literal references taken from a proverbial night at Tequila Roadhouse (not that I’d know anything about that). The closer, Rhodes’ trio dreamsongs, is antithetically etherial compared to the others. Inspired by the otherworldly, Rhodes and two women don black mini dresses and dance in a dream state, rarely together or on any sort of pulse against a sound design of his creation. Despite the dancers’ dissonance with the score and each other, there is a delicate intimacy between dreamsongs’ three characters as they share melancholy moments we perhaps aren’t meant to understand.

Together, the three works are complimentary without too much same, same; despite the choreographers’ similar lineage each is pursuing his/her own line of investigation, and each has something important to say. What I found challenging, however, was the bashfulness with which they approached the work, or at least the execution of it. This concert tackles some big, salient themes, and at some point, needed a big wallop to bring its wilting audience to their feet. Fortunately, the “triplicates” have plenty of time, and potential, to pack a punch next time.

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.

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