The Quiet Hours speaks volumes | Dance | Chicago Reader

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The Quiet Hours speaks volumes

Choreographer Emma Draves and three dancers bring an elegant simplicity to their Dovetail Studios performance.

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PHOTO BY WILLIAM FREDERKING
  • Photo by William Frederking

The audience sits along two walls in Studio 1 at Dovetail Studios for The Quiet Hours. The windows are covered with a cloth, but the mirror is bared. This is the psychological situation of a dance studio—everything beyond its enclosure muted, everything within magnified, everyone within invited to consider the experience of the body in parallel with its surface.

Four dancers—choreographer Emma Draves, Noelle Awadallah, Chloe Grace Michels, and Andy Slavin—position themselves in the corners of the room. Draves is the first to move, shaking in place. This tremor of the flesh shakes the floorboards and the breath that leaves her body, audible above Bob Garrett’s electronic score, drawing a continuum between breath, weight, and space.

They are dressed in T-shirts, shorts, leggings, tunics—everyday work wear, not designed for display. That the piece is choreographed comes through in moments of unison, in the small gestures that surface—the ankle roll before the weight transfer, the back of the hand warming the skin above the kidney—more than through larger structural principles (the repetition of movements, the configuration of bodies) that can organize space and time.

PHOTO BY WILLIAM FREDERKING
  • Photo by William Frederking

The exception is the use of the mirror, which creates architecture and symmetry as the dancers align their bodies against the glass. They touch and rub up against it, leaving a residue of sweat that fogs the reflection, an image that creates a visceral impression without venturing into a psychological exploration.

The expressivity of each dancer comes through most clearly in the solo work, often in the simplest movements of a foot or a hand claiming space through emphasis.

The music stops a minute or two before the piece ends. The piece ends a few minutes short of the hour. The Quiet Hours are given to activity and sound, ending without seeming to end.  v

The Quiet Hours, May 24-25 at Dovetail Studios, 2853 W. Montrose

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