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Architectonic Dynamism: A Preview of Dropshift Dance’s “The Remains” at Defibrillator

By Michael Workman

Humanoid, geometric forms shift against walls, foreshortening the perspective of long, narrow halls. People squeeze between them as they move from one room to the next, temporarily becoming part of the shapes and movement. It’s unsettling and oddly arousing, a satisfying shift in social conventions for how we interact with one another. The fourth in Dropshift Dance’s “Imposters” series, company artistic director Andrea Cerniglia has brought together a range of committed dancers with varying levels of experience, including Cerniglia, Weichiung Chen-Martinez, Jill Moshman and Ali Naranjo.

“The artists involved have been a part of my creative process for some time. Each collaborator has contributed to past ‘Imposter’ productions, and most I have worked with for at least two seasons or more,” Cerniglia says. “These creative relationships are integral to the work and its development, so that with each new production we can push the process further and we are continually working from a strong foundation of previous collaborations.”

In progress since September 2016, this installment, as with each past edition, is intended to respond site-specifically to the architectural features of the space in which it is performed. Defibrillator presents challenges: no Marley flooring, many raw spaces.

“The sprawling nature of the spaces allow for a journey—this is a new and exciting opportunity for my work,” Cerniglia explains. “It continues to question how we consume art by pushing past traditional formats and placing audience members and performers in situations that require thoughtful action and spontaneous choices and responses.” It will be interesting to see what elements of the gallery they choose to engage, not least of which due to Cerniglia’s tendency to have dancers wear large, padded costumes that modify the space within which her dancers operate. The clunky Franken-cushions, originally designed by Amanda Franck and modified with burlap and moss by Collin Bunting, provide yet another layer of architectonic dynamism that, at times, results in direct interactions with members of the audience. Rounding out the collaborative effort, Luke Gullickson provides soundscape design, Nadia Oussenko, video installation, and Richard Norwood, lighting design.

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Dropshift Dance at Defibrillator Gallery, 1463 West Chicago, $20-$25, (773)609-1137 or Aug 16-18.