Two choreographers find magic in movement.
Behind the United Church of Rogers Park is an annex called Overdier Hall, its entrance tucked away where the two buildings meet. Up two flights of stairs is a large wood-floored room, also accessible by elevator, with a window-lined parlor at the far end, past a quartet of massive bifold doors. Tacit, a collaboration between choreographers Julia Rae Antonick and Jonathan Meyer opening Thursday 8, inhabits these spaces in a magical way.
Dancer Marc Macaranas darts into the elevator just as its door is closing. He’s gone when it reopens, replaced by Meyer performing a slow-motion vignette like a body drifting underwater. Solos and duets take place all over the room, in the parlor and on a small stage at the opposite end of the hall. It isn’t just the four performers who move, though: Vertical panels on casters conceal entrances and exits, and six wheeled platforms, on which audience members sit in small groups, are reoriented by the dancers themselves throughout the hour-long piece. Along with lighting by Jacob Snodgrass (who may operate his design from “a beefy, Mad Max kind of tricycle,” Meyer says), the elements combine to direct the audience’s gaze; even in rehearsal, with set pieces and transitions missing, Tacit is a thrillingly vertiginous experience. Watching it is like being the camera on a movie set.
“We don’t have the tools to do actual magic tricks,” Meyer explains. “So we’re asking, what is it about perspective or timing or performative attitude that can have similar effects, without the wooden box and the saw.”
After what we learn is the first sequential run of completed material, Antonick, 28, and Meyer, 38, join us on the lip of the stage to debrief. The two describe Tacit’s concepts much like they dance in it, tumbling over each other with a push-pull dynamic. The former says, “I’m not concerned with everyone having the perfect view.” Meyer jumps in: “We’re playing with knowing there are a lot of different angles.” Antonick finishes the thought: “You think you’re seeing backstage, you think you’re seeing a secret, but it’s not a secret—that’s something you were supposed to see.”
Prior to work on Tacit, the pair went deep into study of duet forms like Lindy Hop and tango. (That research will reappear later this year for Antonick’s next project, Duologue.) “The goal is to keep the audience off balance,” their program notes explain, “but toward delight rather than irritation, and to have that delight raise questions about tacit agreements.” You have to look hard for references to social dancing in the athletic, sometimes acrobatic movement vocabulary of Tacit. The way a dancer flips over another’s back does say swing, however, and Antonick’s rolling head motions are totally drunken master tango, if there were such a thing.
The episodic piece, which acquires the rhythm of a dream sequence, is cohesive thanks to composer Joseph St. Charles’s clanging, spooky soundscape. He’ll play it live each night, standing behind a table filled with, among other things, glasses, drums, overturned pots, xylophones, a Casio keyboard, an Autoharp, a toy megaphone, and a red plastic apple with a smiley face on it and chimes inside. He hits these things with mallets and uses a microphone to catch their reverberations, employing a loop pedal to generate darkly danceable beats that echo off the room’s unadorned walls. In quieter moments, his score isn’t far from any old building’s creaks and moans, mirroring how Tacit’s choreography seems born of the space.
Tacit runs three nights only, Thursday 8–Saturday 10 at Overdier Hall.