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Danielle Agami Brings Raw, Animalistic Style to Visceral Dance

In Pick a Chair, the acclaimed choreographer’s daring work is paired with music by Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche.

Photo: Colleen Durkin

Three years ago, Nick Pupillo was sitting in the audience at a dance showcase in New York when he found himself entranced by a troupe performing raw, animalistic movements to Radiohead’s “The Gloaming.” “Nothing else I saw compared to that piece,” says Pupillo, the founder and artistic director of the company Visceral Dance Chicago. “I knew immediately that whoever produced that work, I wanted to bring them to my dancers.”

“Whoever” was Danielle Agami, an Israeli-born and Los Angeles–based choreographer known for her daring, and sometimes political, pieces. Agami’s work is reminiscent of a method known as Gaga, a form of fluid, improvised dance invented by the 32-year-old’s former mentor, the renowned Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin. “Agami’s work is grueling and extremely demanding and athletic,” says Pupillo, “but it also has moments that are natural and full of human connection.”

On October 7, Visceral will indisputably live up to its name by debuting Agami’s much-anticipated new work, Pick a Chair. Agami describes it, somewhat ambiguously, as a meditation on small gestures—handshakes, caresses—that are pregnant with meaning. “I enjoy framing and pointing out these little moments of passion,” says the choreographer, who will direct Visceral’s 10-member ensemble in a progression of sensual, liquid movements that carry an intense emotional charge and open themselves to myriad interpretations.

Wilco’s Glenn Kotche—who shares Agami’s interest in observing the everyday—created original music for the piece. “Glenn and I are both picking up things from around us and amplifying them,” says Agami. It’s a collaboration that’s going to make waves.

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