Credit: William Frederking

Futura starts with seven eight-foot-long red poles moving through space like pendulums before dancers manipulate them into geometric forms and then use them to manipulate each other. “I’ve been making dances for 40 years,” says choreographer Jan Bartoszek, artistic director of Hedwig Dances. “I’ve always worked with objects.”

One hundred years after the Bauhaus was founded by architect Walter Gropius in post-World War I Germany with the intention of bringing together arts and crafts to create functional designs for utopian living, Bartoszek explores Bauhaus principles in Futura, which will be performed at the Bauhaus Dessau in Germany after its Chicago premiere. “It’s back to basics,” she says, “Bauhaus worked with the structures of circles, squares, triangles, colors like red, yellow, blue. These were building blocks to try to rethink how to make visual ideas. The essence of Bauhaus is its simple usage of form, space, and color. It’s been really refreshing to work that way, with a certain level of abstraction that offers a way to create new metaphors.”

Bauhaus is also tied to the present and to the city of Chicago, notes Bartoszek. In addition to the influence on our architecture downtown, the Institute of Design at IIT, which coproduced Futura, was founded by László Moholy-Nagy, one of the original Bauhaus artists, after the German Bauhaus closed under the increasing influence of the Nationalist Socialists.

“Architecture can direct how people interact with each other,” says Bartoszek. “There’s an architecture in dance. I like that about it—I like form.”   v