I had the good fortune to see The Dream on April 29th at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie. The premiere of this work presented in 2017 was widely acclaimed and I am so glad it was presented again. This joint venture between the Chicago Philharmonic and Visceral Dance Chicago was remarkable. The blending of dance choreographed by Nick Pupillo, based on a story by Fyodor Dostoyevsky,(Dostoevsky) was set to music of many composers and performed by the Chicago Philharmonic. Additionally, soprano Martha Guth sang, and Debra Stevenson performed solos on Oboe and English Horn. Each element added depth to the performance and worked together seamlessly.
Although the Chicago Philharmonic accompanies other dance groups in Chicago, this piece was different in that the orchestra became an integral part of the dance. The orchestra was a backdrop, a kind of set, while the movement of the musicians blended gracefully with those of the dancers. Martha Guth’s vocalizing of the Aria from Bachianas Brasileiras No.5 by Heitor Villa-Lobos added to the ethereal presentation. Stevenson’s solos heightened the drama of the story.
Nick Pupillo’s genius as a choreagropher transformed Dostoyevsky’s short story into an elegant, complex and compelling modern ballet. The underlying tale is about a man disenchanted with living in the world who dreams of being transported. He is taken to a place far away inhabited by peaceful celestial beings in the form of the exquisite dancers of Visceral Dance Chicago. Noteworthy was the diversity of musical selections, ranging from works by recent 2018 Academy Award-nominee Jonny Greenwood, Pytor Illych Tchaikovsky, Ennio Morricone, and more, selected by Chicago Philharmonic Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Scott Speck.
Watching the dancers of Visceral Dance Chicago is thrilling. The company brings a fresh approach to their work that borders on the athletic but is at once emotional and beautiful. My guest had never seen Visceral Dance Chicago and she was blown away by their skill and elegance. You, too, are in for a treat when you attend their performances.
For additional information and tickets go to the visceraldance website.
Visceral Dance Chicago:
Founded in 2013 by Artistic Director Nick Pupillo, Visceral Dance Chicago is a contemporary dance company dedicated to a bold and progressive world of movement. In less than three years, the company has developed a diverse and respected repertoire. With works by distinguished choreographers Sidra Bell, Mónica Cervantes, Marguerite Donlon, Brian Enos, Robyn Mineko Williams, Banning Bouldin, Harrison McEldowney, Fernando Melo, Ohad Naharin, Mark Godden and Pupillo, Visceral Dance Chicago continues to challenge audiences’ expectations. In January of 2015, Visceral Dance Chicago was named one of Dance Magazine’s 25 to Watch, recognizing the company’s accomplishments and potential in the national community.
The Chicago Philharmonic Society:
The Chicago Philharmonic Society is a collaboration of over 200 of the highest-level classical musicians performing in the Chicago metropolitan area. Governed under a groundbreaking structure of musician leadership, the Society presents concerts at venues throughout the Chicago area that cover the full spectrum of classical music, from Bach to Bernstein and beyond. The Society’s orchestra, known simply as the Chicago Philharmonic, has been called “one of the country’s finest symphonic orchestras” (Chicago Tribune), and its unique chamber music ensembles, which perform as the Chicago Philharmonic Chamber Players, draw from its vast pool of versatile musicians. For additional information go to the chicagophilharmonic website
Photos: Topher Alexander