On June 1, at 7:30 p.m., dance ensemble The Seldoms will close out their 20th season with a world premiere performance of “Superbloom” at the Harris Theater at 205 E. Randolph St. in Millennium Park in Chicago.
Founded in 2002, The Seldoms were conceived by North Riverside resident Carrie Hanson and two partners.
“We started doing work that was multidisciplinary in nature, but when my partners moved on, it quickly became a platform for my artistic and choreographic voice,” Hanson said.
Hanson grew up in Iowa where she first fell in love with dance.
“I started at a typical dance studio where we did ballet and jazz and tap,” she said. “I was very serious about it, but I didn’t get very good dance training until I went away to college.”
She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in modern dance at Texas Christian University and her Master of Arts in dance at Trinity Laban in London. Hanson now teaches at the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago.
In 2008, under Hanson’s direction, The Seldoms started doing performances that are more issue-based.
“We start with a really clear subject matter and then I do a lot of research,” she said.
Hanson has worked with experts including climate scientists and presidential historians for her pieces.
“The research part of it is fascinating to me,” Hanson said. “We’re ultimately trying to make the performance a platform for discussion and maybe get people to think a little differently.”
Hanson described the pieces as “dance theater” but said that “the dance is always central and has to be the most important delivery system” of the message they are communicating.
“If you strip away the costumes, the spoken word, and the visuals, you are still getting something from the movement,” Hanson said.
For “Superbloom,” Hanson is collaborating with several other artists. Jackie Kazarian is a painter who created abstract landscape scenery: one is a desert and the other is a landscape in full bloom.
“It has a great deal of color in purples and yellows and oranges,” Hanson said. “It’s quite vivid.”
Liviu Pasare is a video artist who is using film footage of the dancers and overlaying it on Kazarian’s paintings.
“He then manipulates the dancers’ images to become more like flowers,” Hanson said.
Kazarian also created large fabric trains that are 35 feet long.
“We have a set of desert trains and a set of bloom trains,” said Hanson. “I wanted something to be happening on the floor. Wildflowers bloom across the desert floor and so I felt like that plane needed to be activated too.”
The dancers engage with the trains throughout the piece.
Live music by Finom, a music duo made up of Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart, will accompany the dancers’ performance.
“They are guitarists and they are bringing in a percussionist. They are singing some songs, but the lyrics don’t come directly at you. The way they use their voices, the whole thing feels like a soundscape,” said Hanson.
While Hanson is the founding artistic director of The Seldoms, she credits the five dancers who make up the ensemble with assisting her with the choreography.
“Our process is super collaborative,” she said. “I come in with an idea or a prompt and they do a lot of movement generation.”
While many of The Seldoms’ performances have an activist component, “Superbloom” is different, according to Hanson.
“Where previous works have been critiques, this one feels more like an invitation to experience and be grateful for the beauty in nature,” she said. “The tone of it is joyful and the visuals are vivid and vibrant.”
The performance will be followed by the Bloom Ball where an open bar and light food will be available, and guests can meet and mingle with the artists.
“It’s a chance to celebrate live performance, “said Hanson. “We are still in a moment where people are appreciating the opportunity to get out and be in a creative, lively space.”
Tickets for the one-night-only performance of Superbloom start at $20 and for the Bloom Ball at $40. For more information, visit theseldoms.org.