MERGE at Steppenwolf

Event Type
Event Description

The LookOut Series is excited for the return of its curatorial residency program, offering an opportunity for a Chicago dance practitioner to curate a series of performances over a two-week span. Following on the success of last season’s series work around curated by Kara Brody and Amanda Maraist, this season Helen Lee curates a series entitled MERGE, colliding musicians and dancers in unexpected configurations for two programs of work.


MERGE is a portal into the works of various movement and sound artists from all walks of life. Each program moves like a concert with an opening gesture followed by a headlining performance. Together these pairings collide creating a world where the entanglements of the chaotic and harmonious facets of dance and music can offer us a place to ruminate, delight and sometimes heal.


$35 General Admission

$20 Industry Tickets with code PORTAL



MARCH 28, 29 & 30 AT 8PM

This program begins with Hannah Marcus performing bones fragile, a movement and live sound looping piece that explores moments of infiniteness, tenderness, and memory. Afterwards artist Mitsu Salmon draws from her own family history, voice, and geology in her work Desert Turtle. Additional collaborators include Milo Sachse-Hofheimer and Kikù Hibino.



Featuring: Cristal Sabbagh, Scott Rubin, Amanda Maraist, Sharon Udoh, Kara Brody & Krissy Bergmark.

APRIL 4, 5 & 6 AT 8PM

Freedom From and Freedom To, led by Cristal Sabbagh, invites a pair of movement and sound improvisors from across Chicago to gather in front of a live audience, where they are grouped by chance. Artist Kinnari Vora dives into ritual with her piece Kissing The Earth, an offering to the ancestors who lived and breathed and at the same time are alive within us. Bob Garrett is an additional collaborator.



Helen Lee (they/she) is a Queer Asian Chicago-born interdisciplinary artist raised by immigrant parents from South Korea. They received an MFA with a focus in Performance and Film from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BA in Dance with a minor in Theatre from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. They are the Artistic Director of Momentum Sensorium and have presented works in the US, South Korea, Japan, Germany, Iceland, Finland and Canada. Helen was selected for 2022 Newcity Breakout Artist and has been an Artist in Residence at Chicago Artists Coalition and Links Hall with a current residency at High Concept Labs and Chicago Cultural Center. Previously, they curated the Dance Program for APIDA Arts Festival at the MCA and OPEN/CLOSED: stories on moms and other precarious issues for SAIC's Open Studio Night. Much of their work focuses on the senses, death, and the entanglement of light/shadow, summer/winter, joy/grief.


Hannah Marcus is a Chicago-based dance artist and maker interested in supporting and deconstructing the materiality of the body. Her research finds form in collaborative performance and video, often exploring the nexus between movement and visual design, sound, technology, and language. Hannah’s work has been presented by Jello Performance Series, Lumber Studios, MOMENTA Dance Company, Expand Community Arts Alliance, The Place (London), and the Betty Pease Studio Theater. Hannah holds a BFA in dance with a minor in Performing Arts Management & Entrepreneurship from the University of Michigan, graduating as a recipient of the Earl V. Moore Award in 2020. Upon moving back to Chicago, she started working with House of DOV and Hedwig Dances, the latter of which brought her to Dessau, Germany for Bauhaus Fest 2022. She currently freelances on projects with Drew Lewis and Helen Lee, teaches improvisation workshops at the Old Town School of Folk Music, and pursues opportunities for creation and collaboration.


Mitsu Salmon creates visual and performing works that fuse multiple disciplines. Creating in differing media—translating one medium to another—is connected to the translation of differing cultures and languages. Her work draws from familial and personal narratives and then abstracts, expands and contradicts them. Her current projects investigate familial histories, nature, imperialism and archives. Salmon received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and BFA from NYU. She has participated in artist residencies such as at Taipei Artist Village (Taiwan), Incheon Art Platform (Korea),  Guildhall (NY) and Utah Museum of Contemporary Art. She has presented work at places such as the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Indianapolis Museum of Art and Chicago Cultural Center. She has received the Midwest Nexus Touring Grant, Chicago Dancemaker’s Lab Grant, Utah Performing Arts Fellowship and grants from Salt Lake City. She is currently an assistant professor at Brandeis University.


Milo Sachse-Hofheimer graduated with a BFA in dance from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities in 2023 where they received training from Erin Thompson, Ananya Chatterjea, Carl Flink, Hijack, Marciano Dos Santos and Laura Osterhaus. Throughout college, they performed repertoire from Gallim, Robert Moses, Annie Hanauer, BRKFST, Black Label Movement, Elayna Waxse, Leila Awadallah, and Brother(hood). In their final year of school, Milo performed with The Limon Dance Company and self-produced an evening-length show at the Red Eye Theater. They've had the opportunity to perform work from Paulina Olowaska at the Walker, present work with Corpus Callosum Dance at the Southern Theater and Minneapolis/Indianapolis Fringe, participate in Sidra Bell’s Research Module, and attend the B12 Dance Festival, Bates Dance Festival and Gallim Winter Intensive. Since graduating, they have begun working with Black Label Movement as well as House of DOV, Hannah Marcus, and Fever Dream Dance Collective.


Japanese-born sound artist Kikù Hibino produces electronic music that focuses on unusual rhythmic structures and melodies inspired by nature, optical illusion and moiré patterns. From chamber music for media productions to ambient noise for art installations, he has collaborated internationally with a wide variety of artists and scholars, including Whitney Johnson, Baudouin Saintyves, Yuge Zhou, Mitsu Salmon, Kawaguchi Takao (Dumb Type), Theaster Gates, Mike Weis (Zelienople) and Norma Field. Kikù is on the Italian record label Superpang. His work has been shown in the Museum Of Contemporary Art Chicago, Bemis Center For Contemporary Arts, Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, Experimental Sound Studio, Chicago Cultural Center, Three Walls, Compound Yellow, Elastic Arts, Hairpin Arts Center, Hyde Park Art Center, Utah Museum of Contemporary Art among others. He is a 2017 Individual Artist Grant recipient from Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, 2021 Outer Ear Artist in Residency at Experimental Sound Studio. Kikù lives and works in Chicago.


Kinnari Vora shares stories of universal human conditions and emotions through movement, meditation and theatrical practices. Her movements are rooted in Bharatanatyam (disciple of Sarmishtha Sarkar, India), various Indian folk dances and kalaripayattu martial arts. Her work is guided by ancestral energy, wisdom of nature and collaborative communion. Being a physical therapist and a yoga practitioner/instructor, she integrates healing practices in her dancemaking. Kinnari is co-founder and artistic co-chair of Ishti Collective and a dancer collaborator with Surabhi Ensemble. Her works have been presented at The Art Institute of Chicago, Detroit Dance City Festival, Pivot Arts Festival, Ragdale Foundation, World Music Festival, among others and in India.


Musician/composer Bob Garrett currently playing for Goodman Theater’s Matchbox Magic Flute, has toured and performed for Chicago version of Hamilton, Sting's Last Ship, The Lion King, Glen Hansard at Lollapalooza, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and Victory Garden. Bob has been an accompanist with Columbia College Dance department since 1997. Bob Garrett has composed/performed for dance companies/choreographers including Posterchild Arts, Ishti Collective, Mordine and Company, Darrell Jones, Lou Conte, Liz Burrett, Trinity Irish dancers, Carrie Hanson, Randy Duncan, Alvin Ailey Dance, Urban Bush Women, Joe Goode, Bill T Jones, Hubbard Street dance co, Guitarras de España, Chiara Mangiameli Studio and Surabhi Ensemble. The duo have been creating collaborative works since 2015, weaving their art, history and life inspirations. They have presented works independently in the midwest and India; as well as Spain, Portugal, Vietnam, Mexico and Senegal with Surabhi Ensemble.


Cristal Sabbagh is a teaching interdisciplinary artist influenced by film, history, politics, Butoh and improvised sound. In her performances, her goal is to embody transformational memories, challenge power structures and awaken viewers' senses. Cristal has found that working with live improvised music has inspired her best work, which has become vital to her practice. Freedom From and Freedom To are improvisational performance environments which interrogate movement and sound. They use an ensemble of movers and sound-makers that are remarkably diverse in their crafts and backgrounds. Freedom From and Freedom To integrates relationality by engaging audience participation. The audience is invited to randomly draw a combination of artists who will perform together. Some of the participants have never engaged with each other before, which creates a challenging and often rewarding opportunity for world-making.


Scott Rubin is a interdisciplinary musician and improvising violist whose work interrogates relationships between sound and movement through analog and digital means. His recent projects have involved interdisciplinary collaborations with musicians and dancers, often incorporating interactive acoustic/electronic improvisation, expanded performance practices, motion-sensors and live video. In these projects, he engages themes of intimacy, control and the sublime.


Amanda Maraist is a movement deviser + improviser from the texas gulf coast, and co-directs bim bom studios. she works collaboratively with movers, musicians and artists; most recently with Helen Lee, Freedom From and Freedom To, Khecari, Irene Hsiao, Ayako Kato / Art Union Humanscape and independently. her movement work exists as both dance-making and physical space-making. using authentic movement practices and meticulously rendered improvisational scores, her work is process-forward with a do-it-together demeanor.


Sharon Udoh (they/she) is a gay, first-generation Nigerian-American composer, pianist, arranger, bandleader, and vocalist based in Chicago. Their work abandons genre and is expansive, and tells stories of human complexity, chaos and connection. She sometimes takes the stage under the name Counterfeit Madison; their performances are magnetic, dangerous, and kind, and her work has been commissioned by New York City Gay Men's Chorus, Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles, Portland Lesbian Chorus, Atlanta Women's Chorus and D-Composed Chicago. Find out more at


Kara Brody is a movement based artist, educator, arts administrator, and collaborator based in Chicago. She is currently touring with Faye Driscoll, and in process with Melinda Jean Myers, Lucky Plush Productions, Helen Lee, and Erin Kilmurray.


Krissy Bergmark is a tabla player, percussionist, composer and educator. Bergmark centers her creative work on bringing tabla to new genres and cross-genres through composition and performance with a grounded understanding of the traditions of the instrument.



Running Time
1 hour, 30 minutes
Dance Styles
Modern / Contemporary


Steppenwolf's 1700 Theatre

1700 N Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60608