Dancing on tables, shooting off Nerf guns, stomping on bubble-wrap and playing with Post-it notes are just some of the scenarios in Chicago Dance Crash’s new production, “Immediate Gratification.”
The show, produced by guest director for CDC Paul Christiano, 35, is geared toward the general American audience—a crowd ridden with short attention spans and hard-to-please tastes. It opened on Sept. 23 for a two-weekend run at Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N.
“I came up with this idea [through noticing] America’s lack of an attention span for artistic substance,” Christiano said. “[It surfaced] through the contempt I have for the viewing public not having more of a staying power.”
It was also inspired by a piece that Christiano created for the company last year called “ADHDivas,” which will be included in the finale of the production. Originally, it was a commission from Mark Hackman, director of CDC, who wanted something new.
CDC member Mary Tarpley said although the subject may be unique and is like “walking into a 10-year-old boys’ sleep over,” it is an extremely skill-oriented and detailed performance.
“Paul is very meticulous,” Tarpley said. “It’s a lot of movement in small amounts of time. There will be an 8-count, but there [are] about 100-plus moves within that count.”
Tarpley said CDC used to be more of a freestyle, improv-based dance crew and has now evolved in to more of a concert dance company. This change has allowed them to produce inventive shows like “Immediate Gratification,” she said.
Christiano incorporates non-stop movement, a five-page-long prop list and a sound track that he produced himself. He said every sound-byte was inspired by the sound he imagined the physical movements would make, rather than the light thud of a dancer landing.
“There’s more than 100 music sources that I found [to put the score together],” Christiano said. “[It was made of] songs that were guilty pleasures of mine, a lot of ’80s music, tracks off of old video games and cartoon ambiance.”
Once the track was finished, Christiano said it wound up being a collage of nostalgic noises, as if someone was flipping through ’80s channels for 10 straight minutes.
David Ingram, a member of CDC, agrees that Americans have a short attention span, and the sound track—in sync with the dancing—will be one of the elements that engage the audience.
“You turn on something like the news, and all you see is negativity—that’s why people keep flipping the channel—to look for something good,” Ingram said. “People don’t want to be focused on one thing, they want to move around and they want to be happy.”
Christiano blames American’s minuteattention span on this country’s fast-paced culture.
“I don’t know if we are ever challenged enough to develop a palate that requires more investigation,” he said.
Christiano said when he went to more “esoteric-type performances,” it required the audience to meet the director halfway and ultimately resulted in panic.
“They dismiss what they’re looking at and they confuse the artist’s idea just because they can’t be spoon-fed the information,” Christiano said.
This production is Christiano’s second time directing, and he said he feels a little bit overwhelmed because he was given only three and a half months to put everything together. His first time directing was “Art for Heart’s Sake,” a Make-a-Wish Foundation benefit concert in 2006.
“This has been a real departure for me because the work I normally do is entrenched in very serious subject matter,” Christiano said. “[‘Immediate Gratification’] has been nice, but I don’t want to be pigeon-holed into any specific genre—I like to keep things fresh.”
Christiano admits he doesn’t find himself very funny, but channeling his humor through a dance production seems to be boosting his confidence. However, he can’t say that directing this show has made him laugh any harder.
“I remember someone saying ‘Being funny is serious business,’” Christiano said. “It has been a very daunting process coming up with the correct comedic timing.”