WITHIN review- Visceral Dance Chicago’s in-house premieres and Studio Company performs

"Passage", choreography by Nick Pupillo; danced by Visceral Studio Company

Last weekend, on February 7th and 8th , 2020, Visceral Dance Chicago (VDC) presented its yearly in-house event, WITHIN/VISCERAL DANCE, an evening of works participated in by the Visceral community: the professional company members, work studies, faculty, and members of Visceral Studio Company (VSC).

VSC, a pre-professional company, was founded in 2006 by Pupillo and is currently in its 12th season. VSC is comprised of 19 youth members from the greater Chicago area (including Wisconsin and Indiana), all of whom are dear to Pupillo’s heart and central to the VDC vision of athletic/aesthetic excellence.

“Adjustments”, choreography by Eddieomar Gonzalez

Aspiring young dancers are instructed by some of the most talented dancers/instructors  working today in a world-class, creative, and safe studio environment. They are thus given the opportunity to explore the most basic as well as the most modern of movement dynamics and reach their fullest potential. The rigorous and supportive classes provide a challenging spectrum of styles, focusing on the development of strong technique.

VSC dancers appear in numerous competitions and dance festivals, giving them plenty of experience to actually perform, invaluable for the development of personal self-confidence and professional stage presence. The students as a group set an example of team effort, leadership and responsibility in the dance world and the larger community.

Pupillo, VDC and VSC have all received both individual and group awards, proof of and testament to the dancers’ hard work and the success of their training ideals, repertoire choices, and dedication.

“Portraits”, choreography by Michelle Meltzer

This year’s WITHIN/VISCERAL DANCE was – as always- an inspired and stimulating program showcasing the emerging high-level choreographic skills of the VDC company members, and the virtuosity of both VDC/VSC.

Pupillo himself does not create for this event but does have VSC perform his choreography; this year they danced Free Me and Passage, both lyrically lovely and at the same time commanding.

The dances set on VDC/VSC and premiered on February 7th and 8th, 2020 were titled and choreographed as follows:

  • Portrait, by Michelle Meltzer
  • The Last Foundry, by Morgan Williams
  • In The End, by Meredith Harrill
  • Adjustments, by Eddieomar Gonzalez
  • The Very thought of You, by Braeden Barnes

 I was in the audience for the final performance, and was taken right away by the spontaneity and palpable pride of the VDC company members as they introduced their work, by the freshness of the conception, by the embodied wit of the principal dancers, by the flowing dynamism  and well developed  grace of the young Studio dancers.

“The Last Foundry”, choreography by Morgan Williams

I asked Michelle Meltzer and Eddiomar Gonzalez about the inspiration that led to each of their pieces, the process of setting a dance creation on their colleagues, and what it was like to watch their conception performed.

Meltzer advised, “The inspiration behind my piece came from the idea that we choose to hold in certain emotions. I also wanted to show how those held emotions affect relationships. Since I had never choreographed a piece before, it was so moving to see this piece of art that I made finished and in front of a live audience! It can be nerve racking to put yourself and your work into the world, but it was also so exhilarating.”

She confided, “I loved this process. It was humbling to create a piece on dancers that I have the opportunity to know so personally. Their strengths as dancers and problem solvers helped me piece my thoughts, intentions, and ideas together.”

Gonzalez revealed, “My composition was inspired by obsessive thinking. It drove me to create a narrative that showcased the externalization of an obsessive and rambunctious inner dialogue. These ideas were explored within the process itself, and the dancers were open to immersing themselves in this world of obsessive thinking. Working with my colleagues was a great experience. They all have very professional attitudes, so I was deeply appreciative of their open-mindedness and dedication to the process.”

Gonzalez mused, “My heart was very full and warm as I watched the dancers perform. I gave them a decent amount of wiggle room to play with their own experiences and add to their characters. I’ve found that freedom and exploration of one’s character generates a space for organic moments to exist. I am very grateful for the journey that my dancers went on. The piece wouldn’t have been the same with different performers, without THEM.”

“In The End”, choreography by Meredith Harrill

For information on all the great programs and upcoming performances of Visceral Dance Chicago, go to www.visceraldance.com

All photos by MReid Photography

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