Posts tagged with "Ballet":

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The Ballet Memphis building shines behind a corrugated copper curtain

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The new home for Ballet Memphis, designed by archimania, reveals itself in layers. It is an upgrade from their previous facility which the company had outgrown and was located outside of an urban context. The new Ballet Memphis building is designed to engage the public through movement, culture, and connection to the community. It houses rehearsal space for the professional dance company, a dance school for over 200 children, and community dance and pilates classes. The largest rehearsal studio also doubles as a performance venue.
 
  • Facade Manufacturer Ralph Jones Sheet Metal (corrugated copper panels), Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope (glazing), PAC-CLAD (metapanels)
  • Architects archimania
  • Facade Installer Ralph Jones Sheet Metal (metals), Cooper Glass company (glazing)
  • Facade Consultants Smith Seckman Reid. Inc (structural engineer)
  • Location Memphis, Tennessee
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System Corrugated copper screen, metal rainscreen, curtain wall
  • Products Natural copper metal panels corrugated and perforated to specifications, PPG solarban 70XL glazing units, PAC-CLAD weathered zinc metal panels
The facade consists of a corrugated copper screen fronting the sidewalk and a series of courtyards, a glass curtain wall at ground level, and a weathered zinc rainscreen above. From the beginning, the project team at archimania wanted the building to extend the historic street promenade but current setback codes required the building to sit further from the sidewalk. The copper screen brings the building's presence to the sidewalk and ties back into the rest of the structure. The corrugated copper screen wraps around the entirety of the building. The portions of the facade facing the street are perforated to allow visibility and light into the building while also acting as a brise soleil and shading the building from direct solar radiation. Facing the parking lot at the back of the building, the copper consists of solid panels with punched windows. Although the copper screen is mostly freestanding, it is tied back to the primary structure through a robust steel frame. Structural members had to be larger than usual due to the building’s location in a seismic zone. However, the design of the screen reduces the visual profile of the structure through flush detailing and a copper trim that surrounds every edge. One of the challenges the architects faced with the screen was its length. When detailing an uninterrupted four-hundred-foot wall, they wanted to break up the scale so that it wouldn’t overpower the street. The design of the screen responds to the meandering path of pedestrians through specific cuts into the elevation. These apertures create unique urban spaces that exist between the ballet’s street presence and the primary mass of the building. A glass curtain wall clads the majority of the building’s ground level at a height of either twelve feet or twenty feet dependent on the size of the studio behind it. This creates a visual connection between pedestrians passing the ballet and allows for views of the performances and practice happening within the studios. The facade transitions to an opaque weathered zinc panel as the building rises in height. For the largest ballet studio, there is a layer of perforated zinc over the top half of the curtain wall that controls the amount of daylight permeating the space. Additionally, on the interior of the curtain wall, archimania included an operable shading system for another layer of both daylight and privacy control. At the moment where the zinc facade meets the sky, Ballet Memphis wanted a unique formal move to signify its presence. The largest studio space rises up to five stories and creates a swooping parapet inspired by the movement of dancers. This allowed the building to have a signature cap and redefined the scale of the largest studio as it rises on each corner.  
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Endurance art that explores ‘mastery’ in architecture and ballet

In many ways, architecture and ballet are natural accomplices. Both disciplines are irrevocably entwined with the body–as much as contemporary architectural practice tries to shirk this fact–and both are dedicated to the illusion of impossible ease, obscuring endless hours of grueling work and practice. But an exhibition opening this week in Chicago at the Graham Foundation strips away that mask. Instead, Brendan Fernandes: The Master and Form demonstrates the often perverse labor that goes into the pursuit of perfection. The Master and Form exhibition consists of a series of installations placed throughout the Madlener House, the Graham Foundation’s Prairie-style home, designed in collaboration with Chicago and New York-based practice Norman Kelley. These installations double as hyper-specific training devices on which dancers from the Joffrey Academy of Dance train their bodies into classic ballet poses, in performances of site-specific endurance art. “The exhibition is a means of exploring the relationship between mastery and masochism–what we do to our bodies, the pleasure and the pain–in service of aesthetic perfection,” said Fernandes, a former dancer and the 2017 Graham Foundation performance artist-in-residence. The Master and Form is also a kind of sculptural love affair between architecture and ballet. On the first floor of the Madlener House, three geometric wooden devices that look like creative coat stands occupy the foyer and two galleries. With Fernandes acting as ballet master, the dancers move repeatedly in and out of iconic poses, using the sculptures as guides to attain a more perfect form. On the second floor, three large-scale installations made of black metal piping occupy the east and west galleries. They resemble a cross between scaffolding and a pilates reformer. On these structures, dancers will bend their bodies into extreme postures and forms, stretching the limits of their strength and flexibility. The west gallery is also hung with pieces of thick rope, which serve as BDSM-style endurance devices for the dancers to hold onto with their arms overextended while moving between ballet positions on pointe, to the point of fatigue These performances are meant to elicit an intense intimacy between the dancers and the objects, as well as between the dancers and the audience, who will be standing close enough to hear them breathe and see them sweat. When the dancers are not present, three-way audio recordings of their movements will play in each room. Ellen Alderman, Managing Director of Public Programs at the Graham Foundation, said, “Sounds of pointe shoes moving across the old oak floor, creaks, the dancers breathing heavily, will elicit an experience of the physicality of the sculptures and the choreography that will draw the audience to their own bodies and experience of the space.” In addition to the sculptural instruments, Fernandes and Norman Kelley also designed a series of gestural arches and frames that echo existing and historical thresholds and windows in the Madlener House. These moments call attention to architecture’s most intimate moments in relation to the human body, and serve as another layer of sculptural circulation influencing the movement of bodies through the house. Performances are scheduled for four dates throughout the duration of the exhibition, including the opening reception. The exhibition closes on March 10. The Master and Form performance schedule (at the Graham Foundation, 4 W Burton Pl, Chicago, IL 60610): Thursday, January 25, 2018, 6–8:00 p.m. Opening Reception and Performance Thursday, February 1, 2018, 6–8:00 p.m. Talk by Jaffer Kolb Saturday, February 10, 1–3:00 p.m. Performance followed by Brendan Fernandes in conversation with Zachary Whittenburg Thursday, February 15, 6:00 p.m. Talk by Hendrik Folkerts followed by Q&A with Brendan Fernandes Saturday, February 17, 1–3:00 p.m. Performance Saturday, March 10, 1–3:00 p.m. Performance
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Day 37 & 38: The sheen of the Chicago Architecture Biennial has not worn off as programming continues to impress

Often, there's a blast of attention for the opening of a Biennial, or Biennale, or Triennale. This happens partly because the media descends on a place for the first few days while opening events abound, and then go back on their merry ways. It's also due in part to the event's programming—how much of note actually happens after the initial weekend? The Chicago Architecture Biennial, now over a month on, is bucking that trend by doing a great job of extending its initial burst of programming. AN was able to check in on the Biennial and see some of the ongoing, publicly engaging talks, lectures, exhibitions, and performances. And there were plenty. The trip started with a surreal performance by Jessica Lang Dance in collaboration with none other than New York architect Steven Holl. For 20 minutes at the Harris Theater on the northern edge of Millennium Park, Tesseracts of Time combined architecture and performance arguably the most potent way of all the Biennial's performances, as nimble bodies gracefully moved around and through stage sets designed by Holl. The most engaging parts of the Biennial are not necessarily the ones in the Chicago Cultural Center. Periphery events have a considerable range of programming, from environmental issues and Chicago-centric ones, to global questions of infrastructural inequality. The latter was on tap Saturday at "Architecture and Inequality," hosted by the history collective Aggregate. The six panels partly focused on extending the discussion from Aggregate's special issue "Black Lives Matter," which was a look at the structural challenges designers face when making cities and places for everyone. The discussions were surprisingly tailored to Chicago, and provocations from historians Meredith TenHoor, Sharon Haar, and Adrienne Brown were complemented by more contemporary presentations from Jonathan Massey and Emmanuel Pratt. TenHoor discussed infrastructure and inequality, using the unbuilt crosstown expressway in Chicago as an example of tangible inequality that galvanized a community—something that needs to happen today surrounding unequal urban spheres such as housing and transportation access. The panel was dynamic, illustrating the ways that architecture plays into uneven patterns of development and habitation in the city. At times, perhaps structural racism was over-conflated with economic inequality, but nonetheless the panels drew out the strong connections between the two. This is just one of many socially-minded panels that make the moralizing whiners sound silly when they complain that the biennial is not engaging with the city of Chicago and its unique urban problems. Switching gears very quickly, I headed to the standing-room only Chicago Arts Club to see legendary critic Bob Somol and his compadre Wiel Arets discuss with Geoff Goldberg the main exhibition of the Biennial. Somol is the former dean of the University of Illinois, Chicago, School of Architecture, while Arets is the dean of rival Illinois Institute of Technology. Goldberg is the son of Bertrand Goldberg. The three Chicago-marinated experts discussed the Biennial by choosing projects that caught their attention. Somol was especially taken in by Sou Fujimoto's submission Everything is Architecture and Atelier Bow-wow's Piranesi Circus. He compared Fujimoto's installation to Hans Hollein's Architecture is Everywhere. The Biennial's strength is in its breadth and sprawl, but on Saturday it became a weakness. We couldn't make it to a very intriguing event, "House Practices", a discussion with Amanda Williams, Julia Sedlock, and Mejay Gula about their house-based practices. It took place far form the central loop, however, so I was not able to see it or the brilliant-looking exhibition also at the Elmhurst Art Museum, Lessons from Modernism: Environmental Design Strategies in Architecture 1925-1970.
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Everybody Dance Now: Steven Holl collaborates for dance at the Chicago Architecture Biennial

One of the more unusual things I heard when preparing for the Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) was a tip from someone involved that there was going to be "a ballet about Steven Holl." I was obviously excited about this prospect, and I finally got to see the final results last Friday. It may not have been exactly about Steven himself, but it was close. It turns out that CAB co-artistic director Sarah Herda had dreamed up a pairing in the initial stages of planning the Biennial. The result is a surreal performance by Jessica Lang Dance in collaboration with none other than New York architect Steven Holl. For 20 minutes at the Harris Theater on the northern edge of Millennium Park, "Tesseracts of Time" combined architecture and performance arguably the most potent way of all the Biennial's performances, as nimble bodies gracefully moved around and through stage sets designed by Holl. Lang took "a sculptural approach to this new work, utilizing visually arresting sets and costumes, enabling three-dimensional interactions with bodies and objects that evoke emotions and tangible sensation." The first act included a large, site-specific projection of a wooden model of Holl's Explorations of IN, which provided the backdrop for the experimental dance. Dancers emerged on the screen, superimposed into the model at the exact scale as the real-life dancers below. The music for the show was chosen based on material in "The Architectonics of Music," taught by Steven Holl and Dimitra Tsachrelia at Columbia GSAPP. It includes David Lang, Morton Feldman, John Cage, Iannis Xenakis, and Arvo Pärt. The real fireworks came in the second act when three fabric-over-tube forms sat on the stage, glowing white. The dancers moved in and through them, before the shapes were gradually lifted up off the ground. As they rose from the dance surface, colored lights illuminated the fabric forms from the sides of the stage. Tesseracts was based on the four seasons, compressed into 20 minutes. The colors of the backdrop and the hanging Holl forms changed in harmony with the changing of the seasons. https://www.youtube.com/embed/QlFxZfu-GRo For more architecture and performance, check out the discussion, "Building Blocks: Choreography as Architecture,” by Minneapolis-based choreographer Chris Schlichting and visual artist Jennifer Davis, at the Chicago Cultural Center.