By Kip Conwell, ADC Co-Founder and Production Director
This is a collection of thoughts about the Artistic Director of Aerial Dance Chicago, Chloe Jensen, and what makes her style unique.
Chloe established her creative niche in the realm of gravity defying dance (with and without strings attached) that inspired and challenged the audience to move more in their own daily lives. For me, like when watching the young Luke Skywalker employ his hardly cultivated genius to zoom his pod racers past a rough and tumble horde of lesser racers to ultimately prevail and shine as someone with a rare but inherent to the core gift for making compelling art. Chloe has got that.
Chloe has a movement style all her own, that comes from a body awareness and deep level of muscular control, flexibility, fluidity, creating curves, lines and occasionally humanity defying contortions and multidimensional workings of the ground and air space that few others would dare to bring to the stage, and even fewer be able to execute with such fascinating reliability and performance energy.
Her movement genius may have been seeded in a heritage of physicality and creative energy, her father descending from a Norwegian Island of creative and witty farmers and builders known to have hands as strong and big as necessary to swing the hammers they wielded just like the mythical God Thor whose name so many of them bore, and a mother whose gentleness and peaceful approach toward life and helping other people, as well as a secretive athleticism, probably inspired Chloe to have the drive and patience to see a company through its infancy and sustain the effort to allow a company to bloom into something greater. This background must have prepared exactly who she is today, an ever flowing spring of clear deep creative spirit, with a willingness to share with others her wisdom toward the path of finding creativity and physical power within themselves.
Since founding of Aerial Dance Chicago in 1999, Chloe has built an ongoing creative as well as administrative infrastructure that places the company on its sound footings today. She led the organization on an artistic mission that took us through the most amazing transformations and adventures over the first 16 years of aerial dance.
In a purposefully organic and unrushed style, Chloe led the company year after year, production after production toward increasing polish and professionalism, but from the start and all the while with a fresh and unique style of movement invention and insistence on a high degree of audience appeal. She established the style of the company that is characterized by fluidic transitions from earth to the sky, and a quality of dance elegance in the air that is second to none, as well as a core of dancers with unique movement qualities that immediately grab the attention of the audience for their quality and rarity of excellence.
Fiercely independent, and rebellious toward the status quo, Chloe defied with poise and confidence the school of thought that aerial dance was somehow less artful and elegant than dance on the ground. Contrary to the notion that aerial dance might be closer to circus stunts than dance, and through her persistence, a following developed that appreciates the beautiful blend of skilled dancers executing seamless airborne transitions with the same attention to detail and meaningful expression as when on the floor.
There is no doubt that aerial dance requires a physicality that is more demanding than many other types of concert dance. Chloe has a way to inspire inner strengths to the surface in all of the company dancers, and when it emerges, sometimes after months, sometimes after years, results in performers that challenge the audience impressions of what is possible. This deep strength in body and spirit inspires others to push through challenges and to become liberated by the confidence that is chiseled into the bodies of company dancers from their hard work and dedication to dancing in the air.