Elements Ballet will present SOAKED | SURFACE, believed to be the worlds first fully improvised evening-length ballet. From the musical score, to the lighting, to the dancing itself, all aspects of this unprecedented production will be improvised, paying homage to Elements longstanding practice of improvisation as a training technique and to Chicagos well-known tradition of improvised theater and comedy.
Because of the programs improvisational nature, each evening will be a world-premiere performance in its own right. SOAKED | SURFACE will showcase Elements signature style and philosophy of movement: an unconventional, compelling aesthetic that emphasizes the form and rigorous training of classical ballet paired with the freedom and expressiveness of contemporary dance. This particular program is designed to be danced without any pre-rehearsed choreography: Elements dancers will create the work in the moment, given only the general concept that they are making their way across the varied landscapes of Earths surface.
Describing the first-of-its-kind production, Artistic Director Mike Gosney emphasized the role that improvisation has played in his work since he co-founded Elements Ballet 12 years ago. It [improvisation] was one of the reasons I started the company, actually. I wanted to keep these dancers in Chicagothey are all so special and unique, and I wanted to give them a place where they feel comfortable exploring. I have my own idea of how steps and patterns evolve, and even of how dancers bodies can evolve but what might we be missing out on if everybody is not dancing and experimenting? It really is the mission of the company and goes hand in hand with what amazing athletes our dancers are.
Chicago-based composer, vocalist and performance artist ALEXA GRÆ (pronouns: they/them) will create the improvised score for the evening, drawing on a uniquely varied background that includes work in the classical, pop, opera, and electronic dance music genres. Asked what kinds of music they plan to pull from for the score, ALEXA GRÆ elaborated: Im going to try to go everywhere. Im really excited to try to do some classical ideas with just the piano where it feels very balletic, but also use classical pieces as the basis of a soundscape. I will use a lot of vocal techniques with some synthesizers. I am really interested in not being held to a style or genre, knowing that these are things that I have in my tool belt to access, but not to limit me.
Gosney regularly incorporates extended improvisation sessions into Elements rehearsal process known as Water Class in the language of the company so its dancers are very well versed in the practice. We use improvisation as a way to warm up and grow, sometimes focusing on a single body part at a time. I get to sit and watch the dancers improvise, but usually dont have anyone sitting with me, experiencing it with me. Watching all this magic happening, I began to think, How do we show this to an audience, this unexpected, beautiful, crazy stuff that is happening? While many of our works incorporate some aspects of improvisation, I wanted to share the full experience of Water Class with our audiences.
This program is part of Elements 2018-2019 subscription series; information on this and other events can be found at www.elementsballet.org, or on the companys Facebook Page.
ABOUT ELEMENTS BALLET
Hailed as magnificent by the Chicago Tribune, Elements Ballet presents new works in the neo-classical vein with impressive technicality and grace. The company has created a repertory of original contemporary ballets and unique collaborative productions with stellar artists and organizations including Haymarket Opera Company, Aerial Dance Chicago, ALEXA GRÆ, and Third Coast Baroque. Elements has performed at such prestigious venues as the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Chicagos Millennium Park, the Studebaker Theatre in Chicagos historic Fine Arts Building, and the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie. Now in its 12th season, Elements is known for its ability to engage audiences with passionate dancing, innovative choreography, and transcendent theatrical events.
Elements trains its dancers and develops its work according to artistic director Mike Gosneys unique philosophy of dance, based on the four classical elements. Each represents a major facet of dance: earth for physicality, air for focus, water for freedom and fire for expression. Gosney has used this approach to revolutionize the way dancers study, rehearse, and choreograph. It is this fresh interpretation of ballet which Elements draws on to develop contemporary movement, serving as the basis for mixed repertory concerts, site-specific pieces, original story-ballets, and outreach programs.
ABOUT ALEXA GRÆ
ALEXA GRÆ's work is a combination of artistic disciplines informed by specialized academic training in music composition and opera. Rigorous training as an opera student challenged them to transcend the boundaries of various art forms and to understand cultural boundaries of art in the everyday world. They bridge these chasms by focusing on how art informs identities, socialization habits, self-expression, and the ability to create, creating genre-defying performances that incorporate multiple dance styles, theatrical personas, and experimental storytelling styles. Themes of deconstructing classical forms, beliefs about the feminine and masculine, and channeling greater collective consciousness find an evolving presence in ALEXA GRÆ's work. Their mission is to identify moments of pure imagination and innocent creation, harnessing the immediate kinship it creates in order to draw us all toward something divine, something as yet to be defined.