The Furies is a series of short dance films that explore how social prohibitions against female anger limit self-actualization for women.
Episode One: Gemma
Physicists of the quantum mechanic variety, not the Einstein variety – get with the program – posit that where there is time, there is heat. Per this way of thinking, if you were to film the moon traveling around the earth and then play it in reverse, both versions would appear to adhere equally to the laws of physics, and thus exist outside of time. No heat, no time. Alternately, if you were to film a notebook being tossed onto a table and then watch that movie in reverse, what you’d see is something startling — a notebook possessed, leaping into someone’s hand. This, physicist Carlo Rovelli claims, is about time. When the notebook stops, it heats the table, because there’s friction, and thus, “the direction of time has to do with the presence of heat.” That moon movie is cold; the notebook, that inconsequential, oft abandoned thing, is white hot, at least in the context of this example. Einstein would not approve.
And so. Gemma, who had spent years avoiding heat, gliding forward as prescribed and predestined, meeting expectations but not exceeding them, in a life that looked the same forward or backward, is now flying, and therefore, causing heat, and therefore, causing time to fly. Gemma decided to speak. Gemma decided to demand to be heard. Gemma decided not to hide in the back, or to make herself small, or to make herself too scared to ask a question, or to make herself too scared to say exactly what her time was worth. And now, for the first time, Gemma is a happening in time. She is friction. She is heat. She has hurled herself toward change, toward chance, toward a better life, and she has hit the floor face first. Gemma is skidding, floor-burning to a stop. If you reverse this footage of her, she is not a bird flying backward: she is a witch. Gemma just might burn through the floor and through the other side of the world, she is so heavy with time.
Performed by: Kate Kislingbury
Choreography: Erin Kilmurray
Episode Two: Dani
There’s a moment in the life of each hermit crab when they outgrow their shells, all of a sudden: one moment they fit, one moment they don’t. Shell-less. Home-less. Naked. They abandon their former shells to look for a new shell, not because they planned to, but because they have no choice but to. They are slightly bigger now, more them than they were before, and this requires a bigger shell, slightly, one that will allow them room to breathe, the ability to look a little stronger, a little less like prey. And for this to work, several hermit crabs need to abandon their shells at the exact same time. A literal shell-game ensues, like musical chairs only without the music and with shells instead of chairs. And just like in musical chairs, there’s always one hermit crab who will end up shell-less. Dani? She’s between shells.
Performed by: Kaitlin Webster
Choreography: Erin Kilmurray
Episode Three: Sydney
Sydney heard the woman scream in the alley. Her boyfriend said it was more of a yelp than a scream. He told her to calm down. But how do you calm down when you hear someone being hurt? While they bickered over the meaning of words, Sydney heard a man call the woman a bitch, the woman cry as if struck, the man tell the woman to get up and stop causing a scene, the woman say ‘ow,’ weakly, then silence. By the time Sydney got to the window, there was no woman in the alley, no man, no evidence of a crime, nothing to call the police about. By the time Sydney got to the window, she knew her boyfriend wasn’t the one, that this would be their last night together, perhaps her last night with anyone. By the time Sydney got to the window, she knew that the price of being right is often being alone.
Performed by: Porscha Spells
Choreography: Kaitlin Webster
Episode Four: Hannah
Hannah’s stomach is in knots. Maybe it’s because her youngest daughter hasn’t slept in three weeks. Maybe it’s because Hannah hasn’t slept in six. Yes. So perhaps it’s because she’s tired, and there’s barely enough time to drop off her eldest at school and then her youngest at daycare before she has to be at work so that she can teach all the other mothers’ children. Maybe it’s because she’s tired and she doesn’t have enough time, and she doesn’t even like that work. Yes. It may be because she’s tired and doesn’t have enough time and doesn’t have enough money, and all she wanted to be was a dancer, and then all she wanted to be was a mother, and now she doesn’t have to time to be either. Maybe it’s because on the one day that her husband promised to watch the kids while she took class for herself, he showed up mid-class and dropped off the kids because they were too fussy. Maybe it’s because she’s tired, and she’s driving, and she’s putting carrots into baggies and begging the babysitter not to let her daughter sleep all day. Maybe it’s because she’s on the move but not moving. Hannah is a thing that needs to be moving in the world, constantly, spinning on her feet and feeling air on her face, dancing, dancing, not driving. Maybe it’s because she’s not dancing. Yes.
Performed by: Gabrielle del Re
Choreography: Paige Caldarella
Episode Five: Elle
Elle’s about to go on stage. There’s a critic in the audience. There’s an old instructor and an ex boyfriend. Her past is in the the audience. Her future could be in the audience. And in her mouth, there’s a shard of tooth. Elle’s molar broke this morning. She knew it was coming, knew she should see her dentist, had meant to make an appointment, but then she hadn’t, and then her tooth broke. In class. Her tooth broke while she was teaching Intermediate Ballet to middle schoolers in the Northern suburbs. Elle didn’t make a sound. She didn’t make a face. She didn’t miss a step. She held that tooth shard in her mouth, tonguing the sharp edges until the end of class, through the thank yous and goodbyes, through the conversation with her manager, through the talk with the new girl who she needs to train. Then on the train, not to the dentist but to her second job, this job, the one that’s putting her on stage, because the show must go on. She could spit out the tooth shard, but she doesn’t. She could put it in a piece of tissue, but she doesn’t. Elle holds her tooth under her tongue, the taste of metal and rot spreading all of the way through the performance, all of the way to the applause. When the show is over, Elle will do an interview with her disaster tucked between cheek and gums. The more she talks, the more the shard slices, carnage of the most private order. She will sign autographs and relish the coppery tang of blood. And after everyone else is gone, as she’s leaving, the costume mistress will ask if everything is all right, and Elle will say yes.
Performed by: Jess Duffy
Choreography: Paige Caldarella
This project is supported by an Individual Artist Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.