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The internet: making artistic collaborators out of perfect strangers

September 10, 2009

Lucky Plush, Punk Yankees

In the last 6 months or so, I’ve been following the progress of two projects by two of my favorite dance companies in Chicago, Lucky Plush and Chicago Dance Crash.

Lucky Plush’s project Punk Yankees (premiering at the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago on October 22d) has been an interesting work in progress for some time now.  Documented on the project’s website (, the company has been exploring the ownership and authenticity of dance and ideas by sampling choreography from film, tv, and music videos, reconstructing choreography from memory, impersonating one another, and blending unlikely styles.  They have been asking questions such as, “If I steal the choreography from the Single Ladies video, is the dance itself any less authentic” and, “If I remix some choreography I once knew into whatever I can now remember, is it still that dance?”

Now the company is soliciting, well, potentially you, for original choreography which they will steal for the show.  Would-be-collaborators can post a video to the site and visitors to the site will vote on their favorite.  It is at this point in their project that I begin to see the similarities with Chicago Dance Crash’s most recent project, The Drawing Board.

Set to open a week from tomorrow, this project, like Punk Yankees, has been a work in progress for some time now.  Beginning as nothing more than a forum for ideas posted on the their site, The Drawing Board has now been transformed into a full length show inspired by the suggested ideas and realized by Artistic Director Kyle Terry.  The last time I checked, ideas ranged from “a prequel to the fight scene in the music video for Beat It” to a “Tell-Tale Heart Adaptation with Zombies attacking the people doing it with light-sabers (not the people doing it but the zombies)”…needless to say, it promises to be a very interesting show.

It’s fun to see these artists test the internet’s potential as an art-making tool.  I have to think it will be even more fun to see the results.

Chicago Dance Crash presents The Drawing Board | Sept. 18, 19, 25, 26 – 8PM

The Ruth Page Center for the Arts
1016 N. Dearborn

Lucky Plush Productions presents Punk Yankees | Oct. 22, 23, 29, 30, 31 – 8PM

Dance Center of Columbia College
1306 S. Michigan Avenue
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