Skip to main content

Wirtz Center’s Danceworks features premieres by Chicago choreographers

Ascension, migration, mindfulness and visibility are among the themes explored in Danceworks 2019. The annual contemporary dance showcase features world premieres by Chicago dancemakers Paige Fraser and J’Sun Howard and Northwestern University dance faculty Jeffery Hancock and Joel Valentín-Martinez, who also serves as the production’s artistic director.

Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts at Northwestern will present Danceworks 2019, March 1 to 10 at the Josephine Louis Theater.

Meet the choreographers 

Fraser’s new dance “Ascension” is inspired by American artist Robert Pruitt’s portrait of a young woman gazing intently upward, wearing a tank top with flying saucers. “I started dancing when I was four years old, and I always loved the discipline and the hard work that dance required from me,” Fraser said. “Seeing the breakthrough in these young dancers is inspiring. My job is to hone that and get something out of them in the process.”  

“Monarch Butterfly Migration,” choreographed by Valentín-Martinez, explores the history of migration and its relevance today. “Dance is such an inspiring art form. It is a way of telling a story through the body without having to dictate it to an audience,” Valentín-Martinez said.  

Howard’s “Accidental Bliss” is inspired by recent visits to Japan and, according to Howard, “exposure to the concepts of mindfulness, especially toward your fellow neighbor, as well as the ideas of ceremony and counter-ceremony.” Northwestern School of Communication junior Kylie Stover said. “There is a lot of collaboration and trust involved in this work because it is very athletic and we are moving toward each other.” 

Hancock’s dance “Verge” looks at visibility and invisibility and the ways it affects identity. “The goal is to leave the audience with more questions than they started with — to not to leave them with answers so much as leave them with possibilities,” Northwestern School of Communication senior Rachel Hughes said.

Danceworks 2019 performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. A post-show discussion will follow the March 1 performance.

Tickets are available on the Wirtz Center website and can be purchased by phone at 847-491-7282 or in-person at the Wirtz Center box office, located in the lobby of the Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. 

Box office hours are Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. The box office is closed Sundays and Mondays. 

The Wirtz Center is a member of the Northwestern Arts Circle, which brings together film, humanities, literary arts, music, theater, dance and visual arts.

Danceworks 2019 videos by Stephen Lewis.

Topics: Arts, Dance, Events
Back to top