The Retreat
began in 2014 with the questions: is there a way to engage in dance improvisation by relinquishing control? If so, to what is control being ceded? Julia and Jonathan began an inquiry into sub-cortical improvisation. Sensing, choosing, and moving from a low-brain state, like the nebulous alertness of infancy or the hypnagogic awareness negotiating the shadowy hours of the night, this improv practice came to be called Orders from the Horse.

Julia & Jonathan got interested in how duration can shift the mode of attention and they began engaging long-form versions of the practice. Orders from the Horse saw multiple iterations of development and performance before becoming a core practice within the larger world of The Retreat, which expanded to include a larger cast, cyclic choreographic patterns, and an environment of fabric and light. The Retreat offered shared meals, participatory meditative movement practice, art sleep-overs, and curated conversation. Sprawling and minute, mesmerizingly repetitive and chaotically unpredictable, it was offered as a retreat, cultivating deep engagement and a state of beneficial boredom, positioning this often-suppressed form of attention as radical engagement with time and self.

Presented in the fall of 2016, The Retreat : One Night was a variable-duration show, with audience choosing an evening-length format (2 hours), a long-form experience (4 hours), or an overnight stay (12 hours).

The culmination of this project, The Retreat : One Week, was presented in the summer of 2018 and ran continuously for 168 hours, fostering a quality of attention like wilderness wandering: expansive and still, full of unexpected discovery, engendering retrospection. Like the wilderness, The Retreat was ongoing world, preexisting the audience visit and continuing after they left. Guests were invited to visit for the evening, linger for a day, or camp out for the week.

“Beneficial Boredom: Khecari Redefines Audience Experience in Durational The Retreat : One Week
“The Stress of Preparation is Worth The Retreat‘s Rewards”
See Chicago Dance
“The Retreat is one experimental dance performance that wants to put you to sleep”
Chicago Reader
“…where the daytime exchanges keys with the darkness and stranger bits of information and awareness intersect with the known and familiar.”
Culture Rover
“Powerful… animalistic.”
Chicago Tribune
“[Khecari has] once again productively, ingeniously messed with our environment and our senses to inform our thinking about what dance is and what it can be.”
Chicago Reader
“[Orders from the Horse’s] tiny, mesmerizing dramas resemble those of a live wildlife webcam…. Antonick and Meyer eddy and creep and flash across the stage; they challenge the limits of their prescribed space.”
Chicago Tribune
“Yet the whole semi-morbid movement vocabulary is surrounded by this gorgeously serene, incandescent world…. What is wholly unique about The Retreat is that it gives us permission to fade in and out of attention… even, to fall asleep.”
See Chicago Dance

Iteration 1:
Orders from the Horse

Choreographers & movement performers: Julia Rae Antonick and Jonathan Meyer
Composer & music performer: Joe St. Charles
Presented from 2014 – 2017 at
Links Hall – Chicago, IL
CounterPulse – San Francisco, CA
Revere Auditorium – Chicago, IL
The Graham Foundation – Chicago, IL
The Headwaters Theatre – Portland, OR
Future Interstates at The Cowles Center – Minneapolis, MN
9×22 at Bryant Lake Bowl – Minneapolis, MN
The Yates Gallery at The Chicago Cultural Center – Chicago, IL
Djerassi – Woodside, CA

Iteration 2:
The Retreat : One Night

Choreographers/Directors: Julia Rae Antonick and Jonathan Meyer
Composers/Musicians: Joe St. Charles
Costume Designer: Jeff Hancock
Lighting Designer: Kat Sirico
Environment Construction: Jeff Hancock, Julia Antonick, Jonathan Meyer, Enid Smith, Chloe Bigelow
Performers: Julia Rae Antonick, Chloe Bigelow, Chih-Hsien Lin, Amanda Maraist, Chris Knowlton, John Jandernoa, Precious Jennings, Enid Smith, Mary O’Rourke, Lauren Kunath
Presented in 2016 at
the Indian Boundary Cultural Center

Iteration 3:
The Retreat : One Week

Choreographers/Directors: Julia Rae Antonick and Jonathan Meyer
Composers/Musicians: Joe St. Charles
Costuming: Jeff Hancock, Duoduo Wang
Environment Construction: Julia Antonick, Jonathan Meyer
Food Collaborator: Cameron Heinz
Operations: Maria Hernandez, Lucas Greeff, Lauren Kunath, Cristina Tadeo, Kara Brody
Performers: Julia Rae Antonick, Jonathan MeyerChih-Hsien Lin, Amanda Maraist, John Jandernoa, Precious Jennings, Enid Smith, Mary O’Rourke, Lauren Kunath, Cristina Tadeo, Kara Brody
Presented in 2018 at
The Glass Factory