Men making waves was something of a surprise in 2010, but fantastic females were nothing new.
This week,of how men stepped it up on Chicago’s stages in 2010. Women, on the other hand, have long been the backbone of our lively dance scene and this year was no exception. Here’s our companion list of 14 indispensable female artists and determined dance catalysts.
Each of these women made things happen all year long. You wouldn’t know it by her soft-spoken demeanor, but Ayako Kato is a tireless operative, sharply curating the Dance Union series at Lincoln Park’s Fasseas Theater and keeping plenty busy as a powerful solo performer. Hubbard Street 2 was in fine form throughout 2010 under the leadership of former main company member and Joffrey Ballet dancer Taryn Kaschock Russell. And Pamela Crutchfield once again played a crucial role in funding many of the year’s new works and visits by touring companies.
The Dialogue Builders
Whether through formal discussions or their approach to choreography, these people kept the conversation alive. Alongside her work on The Sweetgoddess Project, for which she received a Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist Grant, Meida Teresa McNeal helmed panels at the Chicago Cultural Center on a wide range of issues. August’s Encountering the Other, a collaboration between choreographers Shirley Mordine and Hema Rajagopalan, was one of the year’s shining achievements of cultural exchange. And DanceWorks Chicago’s esteemed artistic director Julie Nakagawa delivered another 12 months of the enthusiasm and community-building for which she’s justly famous.
As self-appointed ambassadors of forms outside the mainstream, these women were key to the diversity of our experiences. Dance cinema, a still-emerging mash-up of choreography and filmmaking, is seen annually on the big screen in Chicago thanks to the efforts of Jan Bartoszek (who’s made a beautiful example of dance-film herself). Butoh’s champion on Lake Michigan is Nicole LeGette of blushing poppy productions, who pulled out all the stops for the striking Japanese dance-theater technique’s 50th anniversary this fall. And at Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater—one of Chicago’s fiercest companies in any dance style—Dame Libby Komaiko and Irma Suarez Ruiz were again busy behind the scenes and incendiary onstage.
Choosing three women to thank for their ideas barely scratches the surface, but these artists really went all-out this year. Michelle Manzanales may have decamped to New York for a position at Ballet Hispanico, but before she left Luna Negra she gave us a Frida Kahlo portrait in movement, Paloma Querida, a truly indelible experience. After her stunning balletics in Petite Mort and gravity-mocking acrobatics in PHYSIKAL LINGUISTIKS, we’re starting to wonder if there’s anything Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Penny Saunders can’t do. Molly Shanahan hit a high-water mark by May in Stamina of Curiosity: Our Strange Elevations and a revival of My Name Is a Blackbird but, with the clock running out at the beginning of December, she outdid herself again with Sharks Before Drowning.