Zephyr is an experimental dance company questioning current trends in dancemaking, and the reduction of the art form to its most quantifiable, easily recognized patterns. The company stages its performances in various spaces, from the proscenium stage to art galleries to site-specific architectural environments, to allow the viewer choices in how they encounter and engage with dance. The results are movement installations that transform the atmosphere of a space with rich images, sensual movements and unexpected occurrences.
Zephyr's various tour offerings include residency packages, lecture demonstrations, master classes and workshops for all ages, children through senior citizens. The company has over 25 years experience teaching in elementary schools, high schools, universities, community centers and professional dance studios. Zephyr works closely with presenters to create hands-on experiences that best suit each individual community and help enhance ticket sales for concert performances. Residencies, workshops and master classes are designed to maximize impact and meet the unique needs of each community served.
Title: On Notice
Presented: October 2019
Running time: 70 minutes
On Notice was a movement observation and commentary that looked at the exuberant yet problematic aspects of how the social media circulation system actively incorporates traditional, top-down mainstream advertising techniques to develop personal constructs that compete and circulate in a social media marketplace. The architecture was an environment of piled up green screen runways that carved out areas to sit, look, reflect and be in the space. A performative cameraman recorded the live dancers that media artists then remixed in a travelling video laboratory for reprojection in the space throughout the performance and live streaming on the Internet. On Notice used the runways and green screens as piers to project the dancers’ fabricated personas, identities and characters, and then launched those fantasies into the audience.
Title: Shadows Across Our Eyes
Presented: April 2018
Running Time: 73 minutes
Because of the nature of the piece the documentation of the work was filmed without an audience.
Shadows Across Our Eyes continued themes of independent trajectories between mover and viewer that intertwined and entangled. With no clearly defined performance area within the architectural environment viewers experienced the space and performance from the inside. All parts, the low brick walls, steps and floor space were available as seating or places to watch the dance unfold. Dancers used mason’s line to actively self-bind, creating an atmosphere of tension as they moved through the piece balancing their task of executing movement while encumbered and restrained, hands bound and wearing heels. As the piece unfolded outwardly focused mind states morphed into inward unknowable personas.
Zephyr’s work over the past 10 years has been an ongoing investigation of proximity, perception and the framing of movement. Zephyr dances envelop the viewer, giving them control over where to look, their relationship to each performer, and how long to engage with particular elements of each dance—much like the experience of engaging with sculpture and other 3-dimensional art forms. Architecture, a discipline that also shares the objective of organizing bodies in space becomes a partner. Performers and audience often share a constructed landscape that merges seating, viewing and performance. Zephyr’s work encourages ever-changing viewpoints of space, and the movement within that space, to stimulate performer and audience to allow all movement, however it arises, executed by whomever, to be considered dance.
Both submitted work samples are of pieces that premiered at Zephyr’s performance home, SITE/less. Each work allowed viewers to choose their proximity and vantage point while viewing the work. In addition, audience was invited to shift and change positions throughout the performance. Zephyr takes each architectural site, whether traditional theatre spaces or more site-specific venues, into consideration when touring and presenting work.
Zephyr has been a creative force in Chicago for over 25 years. Women owned and all female since its inception, the company has performed at The Museum of Contemporary Art, The Dance Center of Columbia College, Defibrillator Gallery, Links Hall, The Ruth Page Center for the Arts, The Beverly Arts Center and toured nationally. In spring 2018 Zephyr launched SITE/less, its new experimental architecture, movement, and research center. Zephyr has received critical accolades from local (Chicago Tribune, Reader, New City, SeeChicagoDance) and national (NY Times) critics, and in 2019 New City named director Michelle Kranicke one its 50 people who really perform for Chicago.
Zephyr is a leader in arts integrated education. Company artists have taught over 150 integrated curricular lessons in Chicago and suburban schools, as well as created and taught professional development workshops on arts integration and assessment in the arts for the Illinois Arts Council, the Dance Center of Columbia College, and Columbia College’s Center for Community Arts Partnership. The company has been the Arts Partner in Residence for over 20 years at Holstein Park offering free dance programming to children living in the community, as well as access to professional dance performances and events.
Zephyr is an experimental dance company questioning current trends in dancemaking and the reduction of the art form to its most quantifiable, easily recognized patterns. Zephyr critically investigates the overreliance on virtuosity, popular definitions and/or understandings of dance, and the tendency to lean on narrative to inform the abstract nature of movement. Zephyr champions the aging performative body, to expand definitions and grow the art of dance, highlighting the strengths of the mature artist and presenting that mature body alongside younger bodies on stage. Zephyr often allows the audience on to the performing area to shift their experience from visual to visceral. Director Michelle Kranicke has consciously included, and expanded, the role of architecture in her work to give repose and resistance to the movement of both performer and viewer. Additionally, through a curatorial program established via SITE/less, its performing home, Zephyr supports alternate perspectives by providing platforms for both new voices and practice models to emerge. Zephyr teaches dance education and community outreach programs to children and adults of all ages emphasizing inclusivity and placing ingenuity and resourcefulness on an equal level with academics and/or the technical aspect of dance to encourage all students to believe in their own creativity.
Programs for Specific Audience(s) Expertise
Zephyr has been working in arts integrated education for over 25 years. The company has had long-term partnerships with several Chicago public schools and received local and national funding for its integrated curricular programs. As a 20+ years Arts Partner in Residence at Holstein Park through the Chicago Park District company artists have worked with community members aged 2-82. All of Zephyr’s community programs are inclusive and have brought children and adults of all abilities together for classes, workshops and performances.
1627 N. Oakley
Chicago, IL 60647
$2,500 - $13,000