• Katie Graves
  • The Nexus Project: Benjamin Holliday Wardell and Michel Rodriguez Cintra

Male duo the Nexus Project is back with their first collaboration since an inaugural program last November. Staged in the gallery at the Chicago Artists Coalition as part of the “Moving Canvas” series, Michel Rodriguez Cintra and Benjamin Holliday Wardell’s new dance takes its cue from the playful group exhibit that surrounds them, but where “Quasi-Choreography” features visual art transformed by the intervention of other artists, the Nexus Project draws on the audience. After starting with a ten-minute duet set to vocals by a folksy choir, the dancers check in with attendees to see how they’d like the dance to evolve, then incorporate suggestions into their choreography while everyone else takes a snack recess—food and beverages are provided. After the break, the process is repeated, so participants have two opportunities to observe the results of their participation.

No one exploits the strength and versatility of male partnering quite like the Nexus Project. Catapulting each other into gravity-defying poses, Cintra and Wardell create the impression of a mosh pit in a fish bowl: they’re disconnected until they connect again. Like the visual artists on display, the duo seem preoccupied with ideas of thwarted spring, cycles gone awry, unstable equilibrium, and that’s a boon since those themes dovetail with their cantilevered style of off-balance leaps and catches. Until Cintra and Wardell’s precision-tuned mechanism descends into apparent malfunction, it’s so well executed you might fool yourself into thinking the dizzying ending wasn’t done on purpose.

Wed 4/16, 6 PM, Chicago Artists Coalition, 217 N. Carpenter, 312-491-8887, audiencearchitects.com/moving-canvas, $25.