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Optical Chicken explores the absurdity of social interactions, the intimacy of private moments, and the spectrum of strangeness in between. Like chickens, we are engaged in “games” dictated by arbitrary social constructs. Our well-being depends on our ability to play the game. In this piece, the performers test the limits of social gaming, highlighting their own strangeness and peculiarities.

“Optical” alludes to gaze behavior—how the act of looking changes both the viewer and the object being viewed in a powerful way. This is referenced in the opening readings from Optical Distortion, Inc., a Harvard Business School case study about contact lenses for chickens. Along with musical references to the Chicken Dance, it is a happy coincidence (or is it?) that these disjunct elements demonstrate the absurdity of the social.




Heidi McFall

Choreographer, Dancer

Heidi McFall is a performer, educator, choreographer, and scholar specializing in contemporary dance, dance film, mixed-media theater, and digital culture. As a dancer she has trained at the Merce Cunningham Trust, The Mark Morris Dance Center, and Movement Research, and has performed in various small venues throughout New York City and the US generally. Heidi holds a B.M. in Music Performance from the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music, and an M.A. in Performance Studies from New York University.


Grace Tietz


Grace Tietz is an undergraduate student at the University of Maryland studying biology and French. She is a dancer with a strong foundation in ballet and a growing skill set in modern dance. She is a choreographer who likes to dabble in other art forms, finding intersections across disciplines. She has performed in Mark Costello's Second Season piece "My Life Has Been Like Water" and Orange Grove Dance's piece "One Mile Radius."


Natalie Groom


Natalie Groom is a doctoral student in Clarinet Performance at the University of Maryland. This project began when Natalie reached out to the UMD dance department about possible collaborations. When Heidi responded, there was an immediate interest in bringing something new and unusual to the music and dance scene. In this performance Natalie plays multiphonics on clarinet and a short piece on piano by Philip Glass.

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