Spring Season Send-off

By High Concept Labs (other events)

Saturday, June 25 2016 7:00 PM 9:30 PM

Join High Concept Labs' Spring 2016 Sponsored Artists on June 25th to celebrate the conclusion of a successful and transformative season. Catch new works by Ayako Kato, Jessica Anne & The Neo-Futurists, Mark Hardy, Elise Cowin, CQAMP Artist ALEXA GRÆ, and the honoring of a very special former Sponsored Artist. Enjoy drinks, light bites, and performances as you interact with the Artists, Staff, and engaged Audiences of High Concept Labs.


HCL is proud to support ten artists and ensembles for two, four-month seasons each year, and our biannual SEASON SEND-OFF is your chance to enjoy the development of their work. The showcase evening highlights the growth and transformation of several current season’s Sponsored Artists, providing you with a glimpse into both their process and the outcome of their labors. HCL is also proud to honor the work of a past Sponsored Artist for their incredible achievements since leaving HCL.


Ayako Kato is a dancer, choreographer, improviser, teacher, and curator. She was born in Yokohama, Japan and is based in Chicago. She holds MFA in Dance from the University of Michigan, and a certificate from the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance of Wesleyan University. Her work stands upon the training and influence of classical ballet, modern dance, eastern movement practices, Tai Chi, Noh Theater, and Butoh.

Since 1998, Ayako Kato/Art Union Humanscape (AUH) produced over 50 choreographic works, 14 of which were full evening length, as well as over 120 long-form music and dance performances, in collaboration with composers, live free-jazz/improvisation musicians as well as visual artists in the US, Japan and Europe. Kato’s group work The Incidents received one of ten Best of Dance 2014 in the Chicago Tribune. In January 2016, the New England Foundation for the Arts, together with the Chicago Dancemakers Forum (CDF), selected Kato as one of 12 artists for the Regional Dance Development Initiative (RDDI) of its National Dance Project (NDP).

Upcoming and recent venues/festivals include 3Klang Tage, Zug, Switzerland; the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, New Haven, CT; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; DUMBO Dance Festival, Brooklyn, NY; University of Notre Dame, IN; Pivot Arts Festival at Loyola University, Chicago; Tahito Art Meeting Festival, Fukushima; SpinOff Festival at Chicago Cultural Center; Links Hall/Constellation and beyond. Upcoming and recent residencies include Millersville University, PA; Chicago-Lucerne Art Residency of Chicago Sister City program supported by Swiss Benevolent Society, LinkUp with Dance at Illinois Artist in Residence supported by Links Hall & University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and AIR at the Hamlin Park Fieldhouse Theater under Chicago Moving Company Dance Shelter Program.


Jessica Anne has been a Neo-Futurist Ensemble Member since 2006, regularly rotating in and out of the long-running Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind: 30 Plays In 60 Minutes, in Chicago and throughout the country. She has collaborated on several Neo-Futurist prime-time productions including Analog and The Miss Neo Pageant. As an actor she’s worked with The Hypocrites. As a live lit performer she has read at The Paper Machete and Write Club, and is the co-editor of upcoming One Night Only, a monthly newsletter covering the Chicago live lit scene. Anne holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Roosevelt University. Her first book, A MANUAL FOR NOTHING, is scheduled to be published by Noemi Press in Spring 2017.

The Neo-Futurists are a collective of wildly productive writer/director/performers who create:
• Theater that is a fusion of sport, poetry, and living-newspaper.
• Non-illusory, interactive performance that conveys our experiences and ideas as directly and honestly as possible.
• Immediate, unreproducable events at affordable prices.

We embrace those unreached or unmoved by conventional theater — inspiring them to thought, feeling, and action.

Every week we use a unique collaborative process to write rehearse and perform a new iteration of our signature late night show, Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind.

Every year we produce at least three other World Premiere shows that are written or devised by our ensemble members.

Since TML opened, this theater has produced more than 6,000 two-minute plays for TML, and more then 60 full length plays or site-specific theatrical events.


Mark Hardy was born in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. He studied music composition at Carnegie Mellon University with Nancy Galbraith, Lukas Foss, Leonardo Balada, and Eduardo Alonso Crepo, and at Northwestern University with Amnon Wolman, Jay Alan Yim, and Alan Stout. His music has been played and broadcast all over the world by Cuarteto Latinoamericano, Butchershop Quartet, Hara Quintet, Articular Facet, and Soundings, and at festivals such as Aspen Music Festival, I-Park, BAMF, Produce, Chicago Home Theater Festival, and the Canadian Flute Conference. Past commissions have been from Nike, MTV, VH1, Nicktoons, HP, and GM. He is a student of the sitar, currently studying with Indrajit Banerjee. He has produced, written music for, and performed and engineered recordings by K-rad, Terry Callier, Irons, Euphone, Resinator, and his own solo work.


Elise Cowin is a movement artist with a history in dancing and directing ensembles of movers. She holds her BA in Dance and English from Goucher College and her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her approach to performance explores choreography as a visualization of tacit directives and the ways that personal history, site, socioeconomic pressures, and tradition might inscribe bodies to perform.

Most recently, Cowin has shown work at Mana Contemporary, Defibrillator Gallery, Sullivan Galleries, and The Bridge in Chicago; Load of Fun Gallery in Baltimore; Teatro dell’Accademia di Belle Arti in Naples; and Palazzo Albrizzi in Venice. She currently teaches for the Early College Program at SAIC and is Adjunct Faculty of Dance at College of Dupage in Glen Ellyn.


Multidisciplinary artist ALEXA GRÆ’s work is informed by specialized academic training in music composition and opera. Rigorous training as an opera student challenged them to transcend the boundaries of various art forms and to understand cultural boundaries of art in the everyday world. They bridge these chasms by focusing on how art informs identities, socialization habits, self-expression, and the ability to create, creating genre-defying performances that incorporate multiple dance styles, theatrical personas, and experimental storytelling styles. Themes of deconstructing classical forms, beliefs about the feminine and masculine, and channeling greater collective consciousness find an evolving presence in ALEXA GRÆ’s work. Their mission is to identify moments of pure imagination and innocent creation, harnessing the immediate kinship it creates in order to draw us all toward something divine, something as yet to be defined.


High Concept Labs (HCL) supports artists and facilitates dialogue between artists, audiences, and staff. This increases access and transparency to the artistic process and fosters transformational experiences in an environment of experimentation and discovery.

HCL is supported in part by the generosity of MANA Contemporary Chicago, the Chicago Community Trust, the MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The Norwottock Charitable Trust, The Samuel J. Baskin Charitable Trust, The Cliff Dwellers Arts Foundation, and individual donors

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