Dance at Illinois will present February Dance 2016 at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 4, 5 and 6 at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana.
Dance at Illinois will premiere a new work from guest artist and 2014 National Medal of Arts recipient Ping Chong. His monthlong residency with the department of dance was made possible by a grant from the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation. Vested in social justice and working fluidly between theater and dance, Chong has been a pioneer in the innovative use of theater media.
Fresh back from New York seasons, rave reviews and critical acclaim at college dance festivals, resident artists C. Kemal Nance, Endalyn Taylor and Abigail Zbikowski will bring a range of aesthetic voices to the stage.
Nance, a lecturer, presents “hmu” or “Hit Me Up!” which explores the unexpressed feelings that surface when the exchange of yellow-faced images, initials, and abbreviated (misspelled) words replaces messy, human conversation.
Sophia Levine, a Master of Fine Arts candidate, showcases her emerging thoughts about experimental performance, imagination, ritual and relationship with a large group work entitled “does matter.”
Taylor, a professor of dance, and Nance collaborate in a new work, featuring colleague and fellow professor Cynthia Oliver. “Chalk Lines” represents a retrospective lamentation of a perennial and current issue. With an “old-school jam,” they move and groove to rhythms of resistance while asking, “What must the African-American community do to transform a racist America that is ‘hell bent’ on killing us?”
Zbikowski, a professor of dance, creates a solo about challenging systems of knowing and making statements that you cannot take back, both in our bodies and out in the world. Master of Fine Arts in dance candidate Jessie Young mines her body’s history and deeply conditioned knowledge to re-examine ways of understanding its possibilities.
In response to the unjust killing of Trayvon Martin and the seemingly perpetual killings of black men and boys, Ping Chong’s “Baldwin/NOW” is an interdisciplinary exploration of the legacy and psyche behind this history of violence in America. Utilizing a spoken text distilled from a 1968 speech by writer James Baldwin, sound and projections by M. Anthony Reimer/Yu-Yun Hsieh and John Boesche, respectively, and a performance score created by Ping Chong in collaboration with the ensemble, “Baldwin/NOW” engages the audience in an interdisciplinary interrogation of race and violence in America.
Post-show discussions with panelists will follow each performance.
Tickets are available at the Krannert Center Box Office at 217-333-6280 or online at krannertcenter.com.