The dance scene treated us to upside-down guitar playing, arresting magic and a ravishing finale: the best of 2019 arts and entertainment included these 10 performances.
1. . Valerie Oliveiro: “The Standard,” June 20-22: In JSB Tek Box’s intimate space, Oliveiro’s use of slow motion and stillness was captivating. Dancers Rosy Simas and Arwen Wilder were particularly electric.
2. Zhauna Franks: “Swan Song Studies,” June 13-16: Franks made poignant, arresting magic with Stephanie Fellner for a one-woman show performed by two women.
3. Ashwini Ramaswamy: “Let the Crows Come,” Nov. 8-9: Ramaswamy’s contemporary Bharatanatyam choreography morphed and soared as it was beautifully translated through the bodies of Alanna Morris-Van Tassel and Berit Ahlgren.
4. Final Season, Zenon Dance Company, June 13-16: From Wynn Fricke’s sculptural “Wine Dark Sea” (2012) to Luciana Achugar’s wonderful bluejeans piece, “Molten Substance,” and works like Danny Buraczeski’s “Song Awakened” and Colleen Thomas’ “Catching Her Tears,” the company’s last offering was a fittingly ravishing finale.
5. TU Dance 15th Anniversary Spring Program, May 3-5 With two works by Alvin Ailey, a piece by Urban Bush Women founder Jawole Willa Jo Zollar and a reprisal of Ronald K. Brown’s 2017 piece “Where the Light Shines Through,” the TU dancers flawlessly executed works by choreographers who’ve influenced the company.
6. “Jealousy,” Hijack, July 12-14: Arwen Wilder and Kristin Van Loon of Hijack displayed their interconnected way of moving as they navigated obstructive set and lighting design by Ryan Fontaine and Heidi Eckwall at Hair + Nails Gallery.
7. Candy Box Festival, Arena Dances, May 2-4: Arena Dances’ artistic director Mathew Janczewski showcased local choreographers at the Arts Midwest conference and the Candy Box festival, with headliners Darrius Strong, April Sellers and Chris Schlichting.
8. Leslie Parker: “crystal, smoke n’ spirit(s)…,” July 18-20: With drumming, poetry and music, Parker’s new work featured lively and lyrical dancing.
9. Kim Gordon and Dimitri Chamblas, March 4-5: Former Sonic Youth singer Kim Gordon danced upside down while playing guitar in a carnal, thrilling show at Turnblad Mansion.
10. Claudia Rankine and Will Rawls: “What Remains,” March 7-9: This show wasn’t so much an adaptation of Rankine’s books “Citizen” and “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely” but a transformation into ritual, guttural language, expressions of grief and anger, and vulnerability.