Chaddick Dance Theater
Heart meets body
Imagine spending a quarter of a century with your heart in one place and your body in another. So it was for Cheryl Chaddick, whose heart was always in Austin despite the fact that her body was having a very successful run in San Francisco. As artistic director of Company Chaddick, the modern dance company which she founded in 1985, she choreographed 22 successful seasons. Her work garnered praise from the city's major publications. She was a celebrated teacher in the vibrant dance community. Trouble was, in Chaddick's words, "I always felt like I was fighting to get back here." Chaddick grew up in Texas. "There's a certain loyalty to Texas. You can't seem to get it out of your system. While I was in San Francisco, I must have said every year that I was moving back to Texas. [My company] thought it was a running joke after a while." Ultimately, a tragic circumstance was the catalyst that turned the running joke into a reality. Her mother had a bad accident, and Chaddick wanted to be by her side. After 25 years of contemplation, Chaddick finally moved back to the place she describes as home. "Austin is my favorite place in the United States. It's like God is here. I swear there's something different."
Chaddick's long-awaited dreams are coming together. Her new company, Chaddick Dance Theater, will have its premiere performance in October. Second Wind will comprise five pieces. One will be performed by guest artist Kathy Dunn Hamrick. The other four will be performed by Chaddick and her new dancers, some of whom she found in the classes that she is teaching at Cafe Dance and Ballet Austin. "I like a company that reflects society. I don't want a certain body type. All of us are in different decades of our lives." Second Wind will blend pure dance and dance theatre. One piece was inspired by Chaddick's transition from San Francisco to Austin, the experience of letting everything go and then "trying to live with your decision." Another piece deals with the sexual and aesthetic pressures applied to women at younger and younger ages. Another piece is a staging of an erotic fiction-fantasy novel which Chaddick describes as being "very pirate-y." Another piece celebrates the female body.
Chaddick's work looks to speak to people outside of the modern dance community. "I want everything I do to be as clear, as truthful, as accessible and real as I can make it for other people who aren't in my world. That's hard with modern dance. When you say modern dance, how many people go, 'Oh I've been to tons of them!'"
It is a testament to Chaddick's passion that despite all her successes and accolades, she is still determined to focus on the work. And Austin doesn't have to worry about her leaving anytime soon. She is here to stay. "I hope I can be a sound company here. Something that is part of the Austin community. I would love to be here and die here doing dance."
Chaddick Dance Theater presents Second Wind Thursday-Saturday, Oct. 2-4, 8pm, at AustinVentures StudioTheater, 501 W. Third. For more information, call 474-8497 or visit www.companychaddick.org.