Ballez in the Woods

March 14, 2012 · Print This Article

Pyle as the princess and Jules Skloot as the tranimal in The Firebird. Photo by Christy Pessagno

“O Rosalind, these trees shall be my books. / And in their barks my thought I’ll character, / That every eye in which this forest looks / Shall see thy virtue witness’d everywhere. / Run, run, Orlando! Carve on every tree / The fair, the chaste, and unexpressive she”  (As You Like It, Act III, scene ii, l. 1-10).

This week I’m posting something quick and slight — more of a go-to, actually. Because I came across a great interview on the Movement Research blog that Marissa Perel conducted with Katy Pyle about her Ballez performance, The Firebird. “It’s a redefined, more theatrical, and queered ballet. It takes a lot from ballet vocabulary, but it’s exploring new gender roles, new gender identities, and features queer women, lesbians, and trans people. It’s a Ballez” (Movement Research). Their conversation inspired me for so many reasons — on the one hand it sounds like a performative embodiment of hybridity from the way the piece exemplifies gender fluidity, to the way it borrows from multiple styles and approaches to dance (and particularly ballet), to the fact that there is a “transanimal” (what a lovely creature!). But then too, I have been extending an essay about artist residencies in the woods and how they are contingent to the city. In Pyle’s piece, her Princess protagonist “is really chasing the transanimal, which we don’t necessarily associate with femininity and masculinity. And, she’s a lesbian princess. She’s recently divorced, you know. She’s starting out on a journey away from this life of privilege and heteronormative culture to find what she really wants and what would really feel right for her. So, she goes into the woods [laughs]. That’s where you go to figure things out” (MR). From my experience I visiting ACRE last summer, I’ve been thinking a lot about of the “woods” and what their role is in the creative process. It brings up all these old high school memories about our day-long slog of an annual Shakespeare Festival (every English class in the school acted out a scene from Shakespeare; it was always part pain and part pleasure and very certainly a suspension of reality, given that the whole school spent six hours together in the auditorium). Woods and islands were frequently reoccurring settings that always offered insight and transformation because they provided remote locations that resisted otherwise predominant moires.

The setting of action in As You Like It takes place in the Forest of Arden. While the characters are still subject to the laws and politics of their court, (for instance, Rosalind has fled for political reasons), the forest enables a suspension of civilized reality. Once inside the forest, characters can reinvent themselves: women can be men and fools can be wise. Rosalind transforms herself into a man creating an overarching and poetic tension  around gender relations. Hierarchical power is unsettled and reexamined, as is the characters’ relationship to their environment. Trees become books, becoming directly accessible. The context of the forest highlights a separate kind of truth which is eventually brought back to the city and grafted onto urban society. It is as though the forest is a dream state, wherein characters engage and resolve their problems intuitively, in ways that were not possible in the rational, domesticated world. The literal Forest of Arden in England, not far from Shakespeare’s birth place, lies in the center of England. Curiously, no Roman road ever passed through its wood. Rather roads were built around its bounds. Even in geographic reality the forest seems to maintain a space beyond rational enterprise, an undomesticated plot of land that resists easy passage, while nevertheless  being contextualized (or flanked) by the very politics it suspends. There is a constant relationship between the conscious and the subconscious, the wilds of the wood and the rubric of inherited society.





Top 5 Weekend Picks! (7/22 & 7/23)

July 21, 2011 · Print This Article

1. Habitual Growth at Fill in the Blank Gallery

Work by Alexis Ortiz, Julia Gootzeit, and Katie Schofield.

Fill in the Blank Gallery is located at 5038 N. Lincoln Ave. Reception Friday, from 7-11pm.

2. On the Beach: Works in Progress Slideshows at Iceberg

Work by Zoe Strauss.

Iceberg is located at 7714 N. Sheridan Rd. Reception Saturday, from 6-9pm.

3. For a long time, all I could do was surrender at Spoke

Work by Marissa Perel.

Spoke is located at 119 N Peoria St, 3D. Performance Saturday, from 5-8pm.

4. Chromophobia Summer Reception at Chromopobia

Work by Eric Kaepplinger, Eric Cortez, and Joseph Palmer.

Chromopobia is located at 2303 N Oakley #1B. Reception Friday, from 6-10pm.

5. Heaven Gallery turns 11 at Heaven Gallery

Work by Montgomery Perry Smith, Adam Hoff, Stephen Eichhorn, Max Reinhardt, Matt Sauermilch and more.

Heaven Gallery is located at 1550 N Milwaukee Ave #2. Reception Friday, from 7-11pm.




Top 8 Weekend Picks (4/1-4/3)

April 1, 2011 · Print This Article

There is just too much good stuff this weekend, 5 spots aren’t enough. Here’s what I think everyone should see, in chronological and alphabetical order:

Friday (4/1) -

UIUC MFA Show: Artsplosia at Co-Prosperity Sphere

Work by Will Arnold, Jung Eun Chang, Justin Farkas, Karri Anne Fischer, Motoko Furuhashi, Amy Gilles, Jim Graham, Dan Gratz, Ben Grosser, Ben Hatcher, Dan Krueger, Katie Latona, Erica Leohner, Maria Lux, Nick Mullins, Kerianne Quick, Michael Smith, Paul Shortt, Laura Tanner, Jessica Tolbert, Nicki Werner, Sarah Beth Woods, and Michael Woody.

Co-Prosperity Sphere is located at 3219 S Morgan St. Reception Friday from 6-10pm.

Weaving Healing Waters at Fill in the Blank Gallery

Work by Maria Calderon.

Fill in the Blank Gallery is located at 5038 N. Lincoln Ave. Reception Friday from 7-11pm.

That’s Odd, I Feel So Alive at Packer Schopf Gallery

Work by Casey Riordan Millard

Packer Schopf Gallery is located at 942 W. Lake St. Reception Friday from 5-8pm.

6/6/6: SIX ARTISTS, SIX CITIES, SIX CONNECTIONS at Lloyd Dobler

Work by Jeff Badger, Carl Baratta, Amanda Curreri, Joanne Lefrak, Kathy Leisen, and Dan Schank.

Lloyd Dobler is located at 1545 W. Division, 2nd Fl. Reception Friday from 6-10pm.

When the Cathedrals Were White at Thomas Robertello Gallery

Work by Peter Allen Hoffmann.

NOTE NEW LOCATION: Thomas Robertello Gallery is located at 27 N Morgan St. Reception Friday from 6-8pm.

Saturday (4/2) -

Country Club Presents ‘Abstract Location’ & Anthotypes at Andrew Rafacz Gallery

Abstract Location features work by work by Steven Bankhead, Katarina Burin, Fritz Chesnut, Jacob Dyrenforth, Freeman & Lowe, and Ryan McGinness. Anthotypes features work by John Opera.

Andrew Rafacz Gallery is located at 835 W. Washington. Reception Saturday from 4-7pm.

No Joke at LVL3

Work by Andy Cahill, Alan & Michael Fleming, Yasi Ghanbari, Danny Greene, Joe Grimm, Marissa Perel, Arron David Ross, and Michael Vallera.

LVL3 is located at 1542 N Milwaukee Ave #3. Reception Saturday from 6-10pm.

Sunday (4/3) -

Irritable Abstraction at Julius Cæsar

Work by Joe Baldwin, Timothy Bergstrom, Brian Calvin, Federico Cattaneo, Edmund Chia, Dana DeGiulio, Dan Devening, Cheryl Donegan, Judith Geichman, Andrew Greene, Magalie Guérin, Antonia Gurkovska, Seth Hunter, Michiko Itatani, Eric Lebofsky, Diego Leclery, José Lerma, Jim Lutes, Rebecca Morris, Sabina Ott, Noah Rorem, Erin Washington and Molly Zuckerman-Hartung.

Julius Cæsar is located at 3144 W Carroll Ave, 2G. Reception Sunday from 4-7pm.