Rob Welcher is a Chicago-based contact improviser, performer, and teacher. He earned his masters degree in kinesiology at the University of Michigan. He is part of the team that facilitates the Chicago contact jam and pre-jam class. He is a frequent guest CI teacher at DePaul University and Columbia College in Chicago. Teaching roles outside Chicago include Ontario Regional Contact Jam (2018, Toronto), NDEO’s Men in Dance Conference (2017, UWV), Contact Meets Contemporary Festival (2016, Germany). Recent performances include the initial work-in-progress performance of Volledig, and work with Kristina Fluty, Jason Torres-Hancock, Michael Schumacher, Katie Eberhardy, and Sarah Gottlieb.
Rob's dance making is focused heavily in improvisation. He uses it for material development as well as performance. Within performance, he is exploring the continuum between pure improvisation (nothing is set before walking on stage) and total structure. Between, there lies a variety of possibilities in terms of levels of structure and open choice. What is particularly intriguing to him is what happens when a structured improvisation is performed multiple times. The same structure can manifest very differently from one performance to the next. There is also the possibility of allowing the structure to morph over time and subsequent performances.
I thrive in the immediacy – the flow and the now – of dance improvisation. This is the well I come back to again and again to nourish my soul. Regardless of the outer form the improvisation takes (butoh, contact improvisation, disco, etc.), I relish the moment when I feel the dance develops on its own, taking me where I needed to go rather than where I thought I should or wanted to go. This does not mean that I make no choices or am unaware. In fact, when I am fully in the dance I often become hyper-aware.
—Rob Welcher, Artist Statement
DURING THE LAB YEAR
"Volledig" explores the fallout and challenges for those who have survived the AIDS Crisis, including artists who have received an AIDS diagnosis, are HIV-positive, or are HIV-negative. The artists take a journey of re-exploration and re-discovery of histories, memories, buried emotions, and even old wounds. In the process, the artists bear witness to each other and their collective experience for material with which they create a performance that allows the audience to go on the journey with them from those dark, exposed, vulnerable places to the light of the lives we lead today – emptied of shame, full of life.
Performances Nov 29 - Dec 1, 2018:
Photos: Still from "Scrappers" | Ted Sollinger | Still from "Scrappers" | Chantelle Hougland | William Frederking | Vin Reed
Video: Wills Glasspiegel, edited by Brandon Calhoun