Pivot Arts Festival – Reimagining Utopia

Antwon Funches by John Zhu
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Pivot Arts, a hub for adventurous, multidisciplinary performance, announces “Reimagining Utopia,” the ninth annual Pivot Arts Festival featuring almost entirely world premieres, May 21–June 6, 2021 at several indoor and outdoor performance spaces. Following the all-virtual 2020 Festival, Pivot Arts this year plans to bring together audiences and artists safely and in observance of public health protocols. Tickets are on sale April 30 at pivotarts.org/festival.

Nefertiti Abdulmalik self-portrait.

Pivot Arts selected 12 artists and companies to create small, live works of theatre, dance and/or music, as well as video installations, inspired by this year’s theme, “Reimagining Utopia.” Pivot asked the artists to think about a better world post-pandemic and respond to the global health crisis and the Black Lives Matter movement of 2020. Audience members will also have the opportunity to respond with their visions of a brighter future and more just and equitable society.

To observe safety precautions due to the pandemic, most in-person festival works are video installations, and live performers and audience members must wear masks. Audiences engage in events by proceeding through a space featuring video and small live works, similar to a walking tour through a gallery, rather than sitting and watching longer performances. There are also outdoor events and videos on the Pivot Arts website.

The Festival’s four components and participating artists are as follows:

1. The Edge Theater and Color Circles Studios
Small groups of masked audiences are guided through a “performance tour” of live events starting at The Edge Off Broadway, 1133 W. Catalpa, and continuing throughout The Edge Theater complex, 5451 N. Broadway. Audiences then are led to Color Circles Studios, 5524 N. Broadway. The total experience lasts two hours, with each date welcoming groups at staggered start times, as follows:

Friday, May 21, 7:30 and 8 p.m.
Saturday, May 22, 4 and 4:30 p.m., 7:30 and 8 p.m.
Sunday, May 23, 4 and 4:30 p.m., 7:30 and 8 p.m.
Friday, May 28 7:30 and 8 p.m.
Saturday May 29, 4 and 4:30 p.m., 7:30 and 8 p.m.
Sunday May 30, 4 and 4:30 p.m., 7:30 and 8 p.m.
Thursday, June 3, 7:30 and 8 p.m.
Friday, June 4, 7:30 and 8 p.m.
Saturday, June 5, 4 and 4:30 p.m., 7:30 and 8 p.m.

Tickets for the full “performance tour”: $30, $15 for people younger than 24 with ID

SolAR* presents Portal to New Earth—world premiere video installation
Portal to New Earth is a visual musical experience that combines animation, story and sound to illustrate a reality in unity with nature. The expression of the piece is a meditation on the concepts of oneness, nature, humanity and beauty. Portal to New Earth is created, animated and composed by Nefertiti Abdulmalik; Rachele Jackson is assistant animator and environment artist.

Propelled Animals (L–R): Heidi Wiren Bartlett, Wendell Gray, Esther Baker-Tarpaga, Raquel Monroe by Karla Conrad

Propelled Animals present state(d)—world premiere video installation
state(d) is an immersive experience interrogating social agency, blending ritual and performance. The Propelled Animals encourage efficacy of the body, resilience and radical tenderness as strategies for self-empowerment. State(d)’s creators include Art Director and Sound Designer Barber, Creative Director and sculptor Heidi Wiren Bartlett and choreographers/performers Esther Baker-Tarpaga and Raquel Monroe.

Ishti Collective: Tuli Bera (L) and Kinnari Vora by Michelle Reid

Ishti Collective presents Prana by Tuli Bera, Preeti Veerlapati and Kinnari Vora—world premiere live dance performance
Prana is an invitation to rest and recuperate. By creating an ethereal space using meditative movement, sound and light, we become aware of our breath while restoring balance and harmony with our natural state. Sound is composed and designed by Bob Garrett.

Christin Eve Cato and Emmanuel Colombo by Laura Judson

Christin Eve Cato (playwright) presents A Woman’s Armor—world premiere live theatre performance
A Woman’s Armor is an homage to women in history who have fought for equal rights and protection under the law, as well as women who were survivors of abuse and forced to be silent. Told through physical movements of self-defense, this story is a testimony of how powerful women truly are. A Woman’s Armor is performed by Jessi Realzola. Christopher Corrales is fight choreographer and combat trainer.

.Danielle Ross (L) and Oluyinka Akinjiola by Chelsea Petrakis

Danielle Ross (with Mike Treffehn) presents Granular Peripheries—previous and new live dance performance
This live piece meditates on how bodies in motion soak up the landscapes that we move with and among: people, buildings, sonic vibrations and weather patterns. Generated from research into how architectures have contained, organized and directed bodies, this solo considers the buildings, bodies and materials of each performance site as fellow choreographer. This work invites audiences to consider who has passed and continues to pass through the spaces we inhabit. The concept, choreography and design of Granular Peripheries is by Danielle Ross, with concept and sound design by Mike Treffehn.

Maggie Kubley and Minnie Productions present Come Over—world premiere video installation
As she frantically tries to get ready for an expected booty call, a woman finds herself transported into another world of sensuality and exploration. Suddenly the booty call is the last thing on her mind. Not recommended for children under 14.

Wonder Wagon by Evan Barr

2. Colvin House, 5940 N. Sheridan Road, outdoors
The Puppet Wonder Wagon—ALL AGES world premiere puppetry performance and workshop
Date: Sunday, May 30, 2–2:45 p.m. and 3:30–4:15 p.m.
Tickets: $10
The Wonder Wagon, a mobile performance platform made from a converted trailer, presents large-scale, abstract puppets in performance, followed by an outdoor puppet-building workshop for families to create their own imaginary creatures. The performance is conceived, designed and built by Will Bishop and Grace Needlman; co-created and co-curated by Will Bishop, Samuel J. Lewis II and Grace Needlman; and devised and performed by Will Bishop, Hunter Diamond, Samuel J. Lewis II, Felix Mayes, Scott Ray Merchant, Grace Needlman, Cristal Sabbagh and Myles Wakefield; and music is composed and performed by Hunter Diamond.

KAIA String Quartet presents String Quartet in B minor, Scherzo by Teresa Carreño and String Quartet No. 3, 1st and 2nd movements, by Claudio Santoro—live music performance
Date: Two performances ticketed separately on Sunday, June 6 at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Tickets $25, $10 for people younger than 24 with ID
KAIA String Quartet—violinist Victoria Moreira, violinist Naomi Culp, violist Amanda Grimm and cellist Hope DeCelle—is dedicated to presenting the rich tradition of music from Latin America. Venezuelan composer Teresa Carreño’s String Quartet in B minor (1896) is described as one of her most sophisticated works in spite of certain restrictions she faced as a 19th century female composer. Claudio Santoro was among the major influential figures in 20th century Brazilian music, praised by his renowned contemporaries Igor Stravinsky and Aaron Copland. He composed the String Quartet No. 3 during his “Nationalistic Period” after 1953 and, although rarely performed, it is one of 500 compositions he wrote throughout his lifetime.

Laksha Dantran by Peter Dorman

3. Rivendell Theatre, 5779 N. Ridge Avenue
Laksha Dantran presents Far Within: A Contemporary Dance Production—world premiere video installation
Date: TBD
Tickets: $15
This piece is a visualization of a trans woman’s nightmare during the pandemic. She asks a question to herself: “Is social distancing more challenging?” She feels sadness that humanity has gone so far away within us in understanding the unconditional love of this nature. However, she “daymares” of a better world. Dancers include Tuli Bera, Keely Morris, Mary Ann Delacruz, Ashwaty Chennat and Laksha Dantran. Videography and editing are by Jacob Klippenstein and Peter Dorman.

Perceptions Theatre: Ndgo Blk by Antwon Funches

4. Pivot Arts website: pivotarts.org/festival
After each video’s premiere date and time, it will be available for free viewing on the Pivot Arts website.
Perceptions Theatre presents Utopian Views—world premiere video
Date: Premieres Tuesday, May 25 at 7 p.m. with watch party
Utopian Views explores what makes a place a utopia and the changes Chicago would have to make to reach such a state. Before we build policy, we must center the most oppressed, understanding how our ideals and actions harm one another. Utopian Views is written and performed by Ndgo Blk.

Sami Ismat presents Nostalgic Buds—world premiere video
Date: Premieres Wednesday, May 26 at 7 p.m. with watch party
This project explores how immigrants shop at ethnic food stores when they move to the U.S. to nostalgically remember pleasant moments in their home countries. The hope is, through this film and conversation, to recall beautiful cultural values that could be foundational to rebuilding a utopic version of one’s home country someday.

Nora Sharp presents The Real Dance: A Micro Reality TV Show—world premiere video installation
Date: Premieres Thursday, May 27 at 7 p.m. followed by live talk-back with the artists
Premiere minimum donation $5; free for viewing following premiere
This is the true story of five dancers, forced to live in their houses, dance (mostly) alone and have their improvisations taped, to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start moving for real. The work is performed by Christina Chammas, Dorian Vanunu, Irene Hsiao, Jenn Freeman and Nora Sharp, to an original score by Dorian Vanunu.

The 2021 Pivot Arts Festival “Reimagining Utopia” takes place
May 21–June 6 at multiple indoor and outdoor locations.
Tickets are available beginning April 30 at pivotarts.org/festival.  

Pivot Arts, which creates and presents adventurous, multidisciplinary performance often in unusual spaces, develops and produces new works throughout the year, culminating in a festival celebrating contemporary performancePivot Arts supports multidisciplinary artists through its arts incubator program and fosters the creation of imaginative performance events. In addition to the Festival, Pivot Arts has adapted its Live Talk series to a new platform, the Pivot Arts Podcast, which includes short performances, interviews with artists and experts and a featured music artist. 
Pivot Arts is funded in part by FLATS, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the Illinois Arts Council, the MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation and the Walder Foundation.


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