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If Left Unchecked

If Left Unchecked is the result of a year-long interdisciplinary collaboration between Paige Caldarella (choreographer) and Jessica King (dance dramatuge), with significant contributions from dancers Keyierra Collins and Jess Duffy, and an original score by Jake Nikolas that leans on and samples from Symphony No. 4 in E minor by Johannes Brahms.

The duet explores how female rage, created by sexism and amplified by race, can be a powerful engine for resistance and progressive social change when experienced – and enacted – across lines of difference.

To generate movement, we looked inside ourselves, delved into our personal histories, our specific reactions to the rage we’ve witnessed, felt, expressed, and survived. The movement represents our collective and individual struggles: the anger we pick up and lay back down in our day-to-day lives, the rage we use to fuel our resistance to sexist, racist, and heteronormative oppression daily.

Each moment of “If Left Unchecked” is a blend of dance histories extracted from each performer’s body – a fusion of classical ballet, contemporary, modern, and West African dance – with no one lexicon speaking louder than another. And yet, the scattered swells of Brahms in the background lead one to think the goal might be to find a sort of liberation in ballet, a form seen by many as epitomizing femininity, yet somehow holding women back. Ballet is perceived by many as rule-bound and restrictive. What might be gained by following those rules? By breaking them? “If Left Unchecked” does both, and it’s thrilling.
— Lauren Warnecke, See Chicago Dance