I confess that my knowledge of dance is slim, but First Street Studio provides an accessible space to discover a love for dancing. They aim to support emerging artists by providing a nurturing area for small organizations, dance instructors and dancers to connect with Austin audiences by holding classes and performances.
I was fortunate enough to see Chaddick Dance Theater’s Winter Showcase In the Company of… as my introduction to First Street Studio and the work of Cheryl Chaddick, who uses dance to tell relatable stories that reflect inner struggle and self-discovery.
Cheryl Chaddick was the artistic director and choreographer for Company Chaddick in San Francisco for over 25 years. Shortly after moving to Austin, she started Chaddick Dance Theater with three students in order to introduce herself to the city. Cheryl told me, “Austin has always embraced dance, which is so wonderful. But I see it increasing in curiosity and appetite to find new voices in the field of dance here.”
Catch the Winter Showcase
In the Company of… began with a piece called “Crossroads” choreographed by Bonnie Hossack and the dancers. As the music grew in intensity, so did the dancers’ movements as they explored themes of anxiety with resolving hopefulness. I was struck by the intimacy First Street Studio provided. Because the dancers perform on a large, open floor and not a stage, I felt connected to everything taking place. Hearing their feet moving across the floor and seeing their facial expressions so clearly, while on their same level, left me feeling reached and engaged
Cheryl’s work, “Vicissitudes of the Heart,” began shortly after with only one couple on stage. Like “Crossroads,” there was a crescendo to the action once three more couples joined the stage. Each pairing was captivating in their own way, and I felt my eyes drawn to all of them in different moments.
The performance was broken into four parts. These segments can be seen as representing four different couples, each with their own unique bonds and tribulations, or they can be viewed as a representation of one couple’s journey through love.
- “Discovering” effectively portrayed vulnerability and excitement
- “Passion” bared physical strength and smoldering eye contact
- “Conflict & Confusion” dealt with tumultuous, desperate and sometimes awkward issues of attachment
- “Love & Gratitude” concluded with a stoic couple who displayed independent and joint strength
Sometimes I felt the couples were experiencing something so personal that I shouldn’t watch, so I found myself studying their shadows dancing on the wall. The music by local composer Graham Reynolds provided the perfect mood, and the audience was transfixed.
Connecting with Contemporary Dance
I asked Cheryl what it feels like to see her work performed, and she described it as “exciting and thrilling, but at the same time scary! Since performing is a human experience, every night brings new and different moments on stage, and it is out of my control like a child that is let out to run freely.”
I am so glad Cheryl and her dancers are brave and open enough to allow the audience to experience their storytelling. I felt like the night provided a great introduction to contemporary dance because the themes and story were clear, but still up for interpretation and discussion.
Chaddick Dance Theater’s Winter Showcase In the Company of… continues Thursday, February 26-Saturday, February 28 at 8 PM. Tickets (available on their website) are $20 and seating is limited. The studio is located across from Counter Culture at 2400 Cesar Chavez St #202.
@MadameKLM wants to know:
What is your favorite style of dance?