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Almanac 2016: Sara Zalek (Chicago, United States)

Almanac 2016: Sara Zalek (Chicago, United States)

In:Between Worlds includes efforts to stand, to smile, to reach out, to fall down, to fear, to relent, to risk, and to rise. The dance is performed primarily on an inflating and deflating mattress, enmeshed in various plastic. The mattress creates the stage–an elevation which slowly engulfs and buoys my body. The deflation is far more chaotic as I continue the effort to dance destabilized, eventually coming back to the ground. I personally thank each person in attendance, for their creative pursuit, for their participation, for their love. This work has been an iterative process over two years investigating the physical and psychological effects of dying on the living, the performance itself is a process of recovery and a space for personal sharing. It has been performed in gallery spaces and in public, with varying sound scores and gestures. In honor of life, of death, and the space in between which I occupy–I look for a way to connect, to overcome my fear of isolation, to believe in my intuition, to see myself through the eyes of another, even when they are no longer physically present. I reveal my soul in hopes that I can honestly connect with our collective unconscious. “As we mature, literally and otherwise, we find importance in what supports that great balance of inclusion, of difficult themes next to joyous ones. Our integrity in the face of our fragile and childish hearts is what holds us upright. One’s relentless disclosure leads to beholders’ disclosure.

Production History:
Links Hall, Defibrillator Gallery, Chicago Cultural Center, Out of Site Chicago, Headwaters Theater, S&S Gallery, High Concept Laboratories


Artistic Statement:
I present myself. My departure into the body as a material for transformation is rooted in over twelve years of Butoh training, a place where two Japanese dancers created a hybrid movement vocabulary that has spanned four generations and regenerated across cultures globally. I am deeply moved to continue my investigation through Butoh because of its historically marginal nature, its use of psychology and symbolism, its motivations rooted in the discovery of self, and its departure from codification. Since childhood, I have been enchanted with inventing peculiar worlds, inserting curiosity, expressing with action, finding awareness through sensing. After many consistent years of outsider art making, my degree from The School of the Art Institute and subsequent immersion into a vibrant arts scene piqued my interest for building community and professional support for artists. By nurturing my organizational and communication skills alongside an art making practice, I have become an entrepreneur. I have participated in over 70 unique collaborative performances in the past fifteen years. Since 2010, I have presented solo work combining dance, theater, sound, installation, and film, eluding boundaries of identification. I am glitching performance genres to refine my research of self within current culture, to nurture new opportunities with artists, social scientists, and radical movements. I am most inspired by feminism, poetry, fluxus, and expressionism; obsessed with dreams, permaculture, shamanism, transformation; and committed to acute listening, fierce artistic collaborat






Photo by: Ji Yang

This post is part of a series of profiles on performance and performance makers from this year’s book, Contemporary Performance Almanac 2016, an overview of contemporary performance presented during the 2014/2015 season available for touring now. If you would like to be apart of next year’s book, Contemporary Performance Almanac 2017, you can join the project here. 


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Caden Manson is Editor In Chief and Curator of Contemporary Performance Network and co-founder and artistic director of Big Art Group, a New York City performance company founded in 1999.

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