Of Whales, Time, and Your Last Attempt to Reach Me is a new work featuring performances by Molly Shanahan, Kristina Fluty, Jeff Hancock, and Megan Klein, and Joshua Paul Weckesser in lighting collaboration. This event is part of a two-weekend Process vs. Product Festival, which features Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak’s work on the first weekend, and Bebe Miller and Company the following.
This eerily humorous 50-minute dance is influenced by Victorian and Gothic literature, 1970s and 80s sitcoms, and funk music. Through Shanahan’s intricately-crafted movement and her collaborator’s solo and group embodiment of these themes, the ensemble investigates and expresses the tension between the rigid materiality of the self, as reflected by the stories and the media—torn pages, whispered drama, the nullifying over-dramatization of female power, addiction to contemporary technology—surrounding our lives, and the body’s fluidity in response to those same influences. This work is set at the intersection of conflict, where constantly shifting input confirms identity in one moment and then throws it off-kilter the next.
Shanahan is a Canadian-born, Chicago-based choreographer; she formed Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak in 1994 as the hub for her dancemaking and collaborations. Molly's work has been performed extensively in Chicago, also in New York, Milwaukee, Detroit, Montreal, Columbus, Miami, among others. Molly has received two National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Awards, two NPN Community Fund Awards, a Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist Award, an Illinois Arts Council Choreographic Fellowship, and a Meier Mid-Career Achievement Award, among others. She received a Presidential Fellowship from Temple University for doctoral study in Dance, and recently was one of twelve Chicago artists who participated in the New England Foundation for the Arts’, the National Dance Project’s, and the Chicago Dancemakers Forum’s Regional Dance Development Initiative. She teaches locally and nationally, and has been on the faculty at Northwestern University, Wayne State University, Denison University; she has taught at Temple University, Bryn Mawr College, The University of Chicago and has conducted guest residencies at North Carolina School of the Arts, University of Alaska-Anchorage, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Lawrence University, Kenyon College, The Ohio State University, among others.
Kristina Fluty has been dancing and teaching all around the city since 2002. In addition to 15 years with Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak, her work has been seen at Links Hall, Hamlin Park, Epiphany Church, Stage 773, and many festivals and collaborations with other choreographers. Kristina is an Assistant Professor of Movement-for-Actors at The Theatre School at DePaul University, and also teaches dance at Lou Conte Dance Studio and Dovetail Studio, among other locations and companies. She holds her MA in Dance/Movement Therapy, her Graduate Certificate in Laban Movement Analysis, and her Movement Pattern Analysis Certificate, all from Columbia College Chicago, and her BA in Dance is from Point Park University.
Megan J. Klein has a Bachelor’s Degree in Dance with honors from Columbia College Chicago and has performed around Chicago with: We Stand Sideways, Laboratory Dancers, Synapse Arts, BONEdanse/ Breakbone DanceCo, Hope Goldman, and The Fly Honey’s. She has also had the privilege to develop her choreography for the dance film, Willful Acts, and a live stage performance, bully.punk.riot., both with BONEDanse/ Breakbone DanceCo.
Jeff Hancock designs and constructs movement and costumes, examines their overlap, and potential mutual influence. Since 1990, throughout his years dancing for River North, Hubbard Street, Same Planet Different World and many others, his dance and design life collided, supported and informed each other. The study of humans, movement, and curiosity about the semiotics of clothing has fueled a long history of aesthetic exploration ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime, minimalism to excess. Recent design projects: Chicago Dance Crashes Bricklayers of Oz, Khecari The Retreat, Wini Haun – trashed, Page Cunningham – On the Verge, Jump Rhythm Jazz Project- Jimmie Blues, Walkabout Theater, the cure, Curmudgeon Productions-Fantasmagorie, Lucky Plush- Super Strip, Parsons Dance Co.-Train. He is currently an MFA candidate at Hollins University, 2018, thinking, making and writing about gay and queer identities and choreography.
Joshua Paul Weckesser is a lighting designer, production manager and stage manager. He is co-founder of Bread & Roses Productions (http://www.breadandroses.productions/), dedicated to providing production support to art-based originations. Josh has been working closely with Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak as a lighting designer and core collaborator since 2003 on such project as Eye Cycle, My Name is a Blackbird and Stamina of Curiosity. He also works with LEVELdance and the Chicago Human Rhythm Projectas resident lighting designer. In addition, he is Production Manager for the Studebaker Theatre in Chicago. TimeOut Chicago said that Josh’s “name seemed to pop up in every program.” Career highlights include lighting the first ever evening-length production of American Tap at the Kennedy Center, working with Karole Armitage in the Netherlands, and touring internationally with the Argentinian group Che Malambo.
Photo of Megan Klein and Jeff Hancock by Philip Edward Dembinski