Kinetic Sculpture Meets Dance: Chunky Move (Mar. 30 & 31)

Center for the Arts Director Pamela Tatge discusses Australian dance company Chunky Move, who present the Connecticut premiere of their hour-long work “Connected” on March 30 and 31.

The Center for the Arts has never hosted a dance company from Australia before, and it’s high time that we do, considering the strength of contemporary dance that is touring the world from down under.  And I can guarantee you’ve never seen anything like it.

Chunky Move: Connected. Pictured: Alisdair Macindoe and Marnie Palomares. Photo: Jeff Busby

Beginning with simple movements and hundreds of tiny pieces, the dancers build their performance while they construct a kinetic sculpture in real time. During the performance, these basic elements and simple physical connections quickly evolve into complex structures and relationships.  The work, Connected, is the brainchild of Chunky Move’s Artistic Director Gideon Obarzanek and California artist Reuben Margolin.  The two met at PopTech, the renowned conference that brings great minds together to focus on social change through current innovations in science, art and economics. The result is thrilling: athletic and agile dancers’ bodies twisting and hurtling through space, alongside movements from everyday life.  As Aldous Huxley wrote:  “All gods are homemade, and it is we who pull their strings, and so, give them the power to pull ours.”

Suzanne Sadler, the CFA’s Assistant Technical Director, said they’ve created two line sets that work in tandem, each with a truss, and the sculpture is attached with a circular pipe.  220 strings are suspended from there:  “I can’t wait to see it in the space. It’s going to look really beautiful.”

Chunky Move, along with Australian Dance Theater and Lucy Guerin’s company, have garnered great acclaim as they have toured the world.  The Dance Department and CFA were interested in bringing Connected because of its interdisciplinary nature.  When I was speaking with Kristy Edmunds, a faculty member in Wesleyan’s Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance, and the Director of UCLA Live (formerly the director of the Melbourne Festival), she said: “What is particularly intriguing about Gideon is his fascination and willingness to explore and collaborate with design and technologies. Increasingly, he is able to forge unique collaborations with artists from other fields, and orchestrate that discourse into a work of art where dance is the central vehicle.”

So we invite you to experience Chunky Move at the CFA this weekend – and if you come at 7:15pm on Friday in the CFA Hall, you’ll have a chance to hear dance scholar Debra Cash contextualize their work, and give you some things to look out for. Join us!

Chunky Move: Connected
Connecticut Premiere
Friday, March 30 and Saturday, March 31, 2012 at 8pm
CFA Theater
Pre-performance talk by dance scholar Debra Cash on Friday at 7:15pm in CFA Hall
Tickets: $21 general public; $18 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students, $6 Wesleyan students

4 thoughts on “Kinetic Sculpture Meets Dance: Chunky Move (Mar. 30 & 31)”

  1. From the moment they took the stage, Chunky Move had my rapt attention. The dancers moved their limbs in fluid, haunting contortions of the human body. This technical prowess and progression of movement would have been impressive enough on its own. However, coupled with the multi-media elements of the interactive sculpture; the primal thrums and shrieks of the music; and the unexpected but not at all unwelcome series of monologues from the dancers-as-security-guards, it was a spectacularly immersive and stimulating experience. I found the theme of connection very well-articulated through this performance as well. At points where a dancer was moving through the sculpture, I was struck by the trust that such an act requires — the person moving through it was so dependent on those controlling the ebb and flow of the sculpture; the entire act would fail without the trust that each would move as they should, and that together they would make something really wonderful. That give-and-take was one of the clearest representations of inter-connectedness within the piece, but it manifested itself in other precise moments as well: two or three dancers intertwining their bodies in order to create a greater cluster of movement; the suddenly angular and disparate trajectories of the dancers when they were portraying the lonely security guards; and the way the sculpture sometimes functioned to separate people, literally pulling them back as if by a current. Watching it, I had a sense of the purposefulness of every move, which was a testament to the powerful conceptual choreography at hand, and the great ability of the dancers to successfully embody and perform those visions. Chunky Move “Connected” was a moving performance of great scope and depth, and I hope to someday see more from this troupe and this choreographer.

  2. Best show I’ve seen seen so far at CFA (20 shows ?)
    Frankly Ryan (above) described it far better than I could have !!
    Keep up the great work Pamela T and crew. We are lucky to have access
    to such great performers ! thanks.

  3. Chunky Move was honestly one of the best performances I’ve seen in any live genre in my lifetime, dance or otherwise. The explosive movement of the dancers, Gideon’s incredible kinetic sculpture, and the tense feeling of the dynamics of relationships, art and eroticism electrified the air in the CFA theater. I had never envisioned that there could be such a beautiful interface between human and machine in live theatrical performance. The music, while grinding, added to the tension and elevated the mood of the piece overall.

  4. The best way to end this year’s dance series was Chunky Move. They gave us an exciting evening of superb dance. From the initial movement of construction then through the love affair of machine and dancer to the end’s questioning of ‘art’, it made for the complete dance experience.

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