The Retreat : One Week
June 18-24, 2018


The culmination of this project, The Retreat : One Week, runs 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 is ongoing, preexisting your visit and remaining after you leave. Guests were invited to visit for the evening, linger for a day, or camp out for the week.

The Retreat is a world of fabric and light, sound and movement. It is dance performance and music concert. It is shared meals and participatory meditative movement practice. It is art sleep-overs and curated conversation. Sprawling and minute, mesmerizingly repetitive and chaotically unpredictable, it functions as a retreat, offering deep engagement and a state of beneficial boredom, positioning this often-suppressed form of attention as radical engagement with time and self.

The Retreat began in 2014 with the practice called Orders from the Horse, which posited 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.

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, participatory workshops, and more. 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).

“In The Retreat : One Week, the boundary between observer and observed dissolves further into a shared experience.”
“…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

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