Blackbird's Ventriloquy

Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak

Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak is a Chicago-born and -based dance company that supports Shanahan's movement and performance research and the public presentation of her work. They believe that creation and performance inspire artists and audiences to experience themselves and each other at a deeper level. Shanahan\'s work invites participants to reconsider limiting cultural beliefs about how we should look, move, dance, express, and relate within the context of her collaboratively-informed and theatrically-rich solo and ensemble dances.

Shanahan is recognized as a "singular voice in Chicago dance," (Zac Whittenburg, TimeOut Chicago) who has been "distilling the essence of performance—the relationship between audience and artist—for years, exposing the honest beauty of the body in its natural state: fluid, organic motion" (Sharon Hoyer, New City Chicago). Molly’s work has been supported by two NPN Creation Fund Awards, a Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist Award, an Illinois Arts Council fellowship for choreography, and a 2010 Meier Achievement Award, among others. My Name is a Blackbird was listed as one of the "top ten dance moments of the decade" by TimeOut Chicago. Shanahan was included in New City\'s 2010 and 2012 feature “The Players, 50 people who really perform for Chicago: "discarding the rules of modern dance, Shanahan puts movement under the microscope, cultivating gorgeous organic phrases by observing motion at an atomic level." (Sharon Hoyer, New City). In 2012 Molly received a fellowship from Temple University (Philadelphia) for doctoral research focusing on her embodied transformation through the freeing of abdominal musculature to move, rather than control, the pelvis and spine, a transformation that subverts normative employment of a “core” to centrally control the body and, related, conformity to aesthetics of ideal fitness and femininity. She is a dual citizen of Canada and the United States and currently splits her time between Chicago, Philadelphia, and Detroit, where she is a Visiting Lecturer at Wayne State University’s Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance, and is writing a dissertation on My Name is a Blackbird.

$10- $20


In Blackbird’s Ventriloquy Molly Shanahan reopens the archive of her 2007 solo project My Name is a Blackbird, the 2007 project that changed her approach to body, dance, and performance. The archive that informs Blackbird’s Ventriloquy is both literal and figurative, based palpably in Shanahan’s body, and in dozens of hours of archival video footage, recorded conversations/interviews, and personal journals.  Shanahan states, "Blackbird's Ventriloquy is a new project with a long and complicated memory. I’m joined by Kevin O'Donnell, who worked with me during the past two years on creating sound for the piece, and movement coach/longtime collaborator Kristina Fluty."

Tech / Design Credits:: Lighting Design: Joshua Paul Weckesser

All photos by William Frederking Photography

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