Reckless to Wreck-less: A response by Timothy Tsang

Breaking Grounds Performance Series: Makers and Wreckers a choreographic collaboration

September 8, 2018 at Links Hall (*)

Artistic Director Destine Young with:

Makers:  Camilia Rivero Pooley, Karen Yatsko, Tariana Baralt Torres, Maraia Blanco, Amanda “Mandy” Milligan

Wreckers:  Destine Young, Julie Ferrell, Mary Willmeng, Amanda “Mandy” Milligan, Lydia Feuerhelm

image design: Destine Young

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One choreographer makes a work, only for another to “wreck” it. This is the premise of Breaking Grounds’ performance series. This idea is very innovative and interesting but how is it done? And done cohesively?

We were told that this first installment is an experiment (with trials and errors) that will serve as a reference for future projects.

The concert kicked off with an open rehearsal of Breaking Grounds as the house opened. Arriving closer to show time, I didn’t see much of the open rehearsal but knowing about the program, I gathered that a “wrecking” was happening. Dancers then scurried away as it hit showtime.

Presenting choreographers of the program included: Camila Rivero Pooley, Karen Yatsko, Tariana Baralt Torres, Maria Blanco, and Amanda “Mandy” Milligan.

Camila’s work was theatrical, rhythmic, and reckless. With strong-colored costumes, powerful gestures, and power struggles, the piece was “enough”, as Camila says towards the end of the piece. Another thing I greatly appreciated: the inclusion of a house section.

Expanding from simple “silly walks”, Karen Yatsko never fails to bring humor into her work. “ silly walks” becoming “silly dances”, accompanied by funny dialogues & voiceover, Karen’s work reminded me much of an exercise video, but more entertaining. “I’ll get stronger now”.

I’m Fine, choreographed by Yariana, is a beautiful embodiment of anxiety. Starting off with a dancer taking a puff from an imaginary cigarette, the dance genuinely portrayed the struggles of anxiety. “世界末日,我们仍在” (“We’ll still be here even when the world ends”).

Mandy’s duet, using fun retro music, provided us with more technicality rooted in ballet than others. Joyous dancing in sundresses evolved into playful fighting between the two.

To Really Get Down, by Maria Blanco, is a dance just for the love of dance. It brought the funk and the grooves to the evening. Using chairs, the dancers had different interpretations to the choreographed grooves, bringing their joy and infecting the audience with it.

Lastly, Destine Young’s piece, incorporating different techniques, created intriguing looks with lighting. However, it was slightly confusing / disappointing that it wasn’t the wrecked version.

One thing I kept asking myself is, “How much of what I’m seeing is wrecked?” From the inspiring and well-organized post performance talk, it became clear how each wrecker helped shape their work. Some barely changed anything, some made contributions that solidified the work. An interesting point was also brought up in this discussion: what are the stakes of the wreckers?

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Timothy Tsang is a dancer, teacher, choreographer, and arts administrator. He began his dance training in 2009 at The One Dance Studio in Shanghai, taking classes in hip hop, popping, locking, and waacking. Tim was first introduced to modern and ballet at Columbia College Chicago, where he earned his BA (’17) in dance, and minor in arts administration. During college, he performed in original works by Paige Cunningham-Calderella, Bob Eisen, and Stephanie Paul, as well as repertory of Merce Cunningham. In 2016, Tim was also commissioned by Columbia to choreograph for their Open House, and restaged twice. Tim began performing professionally, with Ardent Dance Company the same year. Since then, Tim has worked with South Chicago Dance Theatre, and performed in works by Krista Zozulia. Currently, Tim is dancing with Mordine & Co. Dance Theatre, serves as an assistant to Artistic Director with Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre, and is Communications person at Dance Center Evanston.

(*) PRJ is partnering with Links Hall to celebrate their 40th anniversary by providing a platform for artist-to-artist responses to the work that is presented as part of the Pay-the-40th-Forward season. Thank you, Links Hall, for all that you do for the dance and performance communities in Chicago. Congratulations on 40 years!