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Respire is a site-specific performance exploring public space, inspired by and created for the architecture of the MCA Chicago.

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Respire: Full Ensemble Piece + Stephan Moore Improvisation

Posted on August 24, 2017 by CabinFever

This video showcases one of the iterations of the ensemble piece from “Respire” in its entirety. It begins with the musicians gathering on the fourth floor galleries, commencing an ambient prelude to the ensemble piece. As the dancers finish their group performances distributed around the museum, they join the musicians one-by-one. The musicians begin wrapping up their composition around the 18:00 mark, slowly dissolving into the museum’s vast space to prepare for the next round. Stephan Moore picks up at this juncture and accompanies the dancers, improvising with the ensemble’s recorded sound through a custom software system.

Footage courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art – Chicago & Joy Jacobs Photography

On April 29, 2017, CabinFever performed “Respire” at the Museum of Contemporary Art – Chicago (MCA).

A collaboration with Stephan Moore (sound designer, electronics improviser, and lecturer at Northwestern University), “Respire” was part of the performance component of MCA’s exhibit “Common Time,” which explored the life and work of world-renowned dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham.

The performance repeated four times throughout the day. Each iteration began with three separate groups of CabinFever’s musicians activating MCA’s enormous central volume of air with sound, within which the company’s dancers explored themes of collective experience and identity through movement. One-by-one, the musicians and dancers peeled away from their respective groups, slowly dissolving them in the process. The artists then made their way piecemeal to the fourth floor galleries where they performed a 20-minute ensemble piece featuring the entire company.

Using a custom software system, Moore captured the output of CabinFever’s musicians during the ensemble piece, introducing modulated samples throughout its performance. Following this segment, Moore concluded each iteration of the performance by rebroadcasting the CabinFever ensemble’s sound, reversing the composition’s trajectory through electronic improvisation while the dancers engaged in a movement-based improvisation. Meanwhile, the musicians began dissolving back to the museum balconies to prepare for the following iteration.

This framework captured CabinFever’s site-specific approach to composition and performance, delving into MCA Architect Josef Paul Kleihues’ intent to design a space that preserves and interprets collective history. The audience experienced “Respire” from different angles and witnessed various aspects of the overall piece during separate iterations of the performance. These experiences imitate the subjective interactions that museum visitors have with a given curatorial space, as the works contained therein acquire new meaning and significance with the passing of time and the continuous flow of new visitors.

Additionally, “Respire” embodied Cunningham’s concept of “Common Time,” which posits that distinct components of music and dance can be both independent and interdependent without contradiction. Surrounded by sounds cast forth into the immense open space of the MCA, CabinFever’s dancers and musicians contended with new and uncontrollable moments throughout the day. While creatively autonomous, each artist inhabited a space that was subject to the sound and movements of other company members stationed throughout the museum.

Moore’s contribution further underscored this concept. The ensemble piece – written by CabinFever’s musician-composers Doug Barber, Lia Kohl, Gavin Price, Evan Anderson, and Patrick Glennon – provided raw material for Moore to reinvent its themes and passages. This created artistic vulnerability, exposing each musician to reprocessed manifestations of their individual sounds and each dancer to constantly evolving interpretations of the musical accompaniment.

More than 1,000 visitors experienced “Respire” throughout April 29, making it a watershed performance in CabinFever’s 6-year history as a company.

In addition to the performance at the MCA, CabinFever previewed the work at the SoHo House – Chicago. The company’s musicians also performed the ensemble piece at Northwestern University’s recording studio for an audience of students and faculty, resulting in a number of recordings that the company will publicly release in the coming months.

Stay tuned for more video excerpts and full footage of the performance, as well as online recordings and physical releases of the music from “Respire.”

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Excerpt of the Ensemble Piece from “Respire” Performed at The MCA Chicago

Posted on August 22, 2017 by CabinFever
This video is a 9 minute excerpt of the ensemble piece from CabinFever’s original production “Respire,” which repeated four times throughout the day on April 29, 2017 at the Museum of Contemporary Art – Chicago.
CabinFever’s musicians composed the music over a week and a half time period side-by-side with the company’s dancers and choreographer, leaving room for performance-day improvisation and reinterpretation. Collaborator Stephan Moore captured the output from CabinFever’s musicians during the ensemble piece, introducing electronic improvisation throughout and reinterpreting the entire composition following its conclusion. 
The company’s artistic director and choreographer – Elana Jacobs – sought to capture the essence of the performance space through the dance’s movement. Measured yet spontaneous, unified yet individual, CabinFever’s dancers embodied the ideals of Merce Cunningham’s concept of “Common Time” while exploring the subjective relationships that museum visitors have with clearly defined curatorial spaces designed to relay collective history, identity, and experience. 
Stay tuned for footage of Moore’s improvisation, along with additional updates and videos relating to “Respire.”
Musicians include: Stephan Moore, Doug Barber, Lia Kohl, Gavin Price, Evan Anderson, and Patrick Glennon.
Dancers include: Emily Pacilio, Emily Craver, Sarah Lustbader, Aaron R. White, and Maggie Stack.
Costumes by Erik Andor
Choreography by Elana Jacobs 
Curated by Erin Toale


Rehearsal for Preview at Northwestern University (Stephan Moore Electronics Improvisation)

Posted on August 18, 2017 by CabinFever

Here is another video clip from CabinFever and Stephan Moore’s rehearsal before the Northwestern University preview showcasing the music from “Respire.”

Moore utilized a custom software system to capture and rebroadcast the company’s sound, improvising with the various sonic components and reimagining the trajectory, composition, and texture of the music.

Stay tuned for more video and audio samples depicting how all of these moving pieces came together to form CabinFever’s original production “Respire.”

Footage courtesy of Joy Jacobs Photography


Posted on August 17, 2017 by CabinFever

CabinFever performed the original work “Respire” at the Museum of Contemporary Art – Chicago (MCA) on April 29, 2017.

A collaboration with sound designer and electronics improviser Stephan Moore, “Respire” repeated throughout the day before more than 1,000 visitors to the MCA.

The company composed the music and choreographed the dance for the production over a week and a half time period, previewing the work at the Soho House – Chicago with both dancers and musicians.

Four days before the performance, the company’s musicians previewed the ensemble piece from “Respire” at Northwestern University’s recording lab.

This video is a clip from the rehearsal that took place before the Northwestern University preview.

Stay tuned for more video excerpts and full footage of the performance, as well as online recordings and physical releases of the music from “Respire.”


Respire is a collaboration between the musicians and dancers of CabinFever, electronic improviser Stephan Moore, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA). This new work features original music and dance created by CabinFever, a collaborative group from across the United States. The MCA will present Respire alongside its exhibition “Common Time,” which celebrates the creative life of Merce Cunningham.

Spanning four hours on April 29, 2017, Respire repeatedly activates the MCA’s enormous central volume of air. Each hour, separate groups of musicians and dancers emerge on to the atrium’s three balconies, generating sound in the reverberant space. The groups gradually drift toward the fourth floor galleries, converging into a single ensemble. Using a custom software system, Stephan Moore then receives, processes, and rebroadcasts CabinFever’s sound, manipulating it as the ensemble dissolves and sustaining it until the start of the next hour.

The performance continues CabinFever’s research-based approach to space; the MCA – reimagined as a living body – contains Respire’s continuous, cyclical progression of performers and audience, which resembles respiration. We see this structural scheme as a response to Architect Josef Paul Kleihues’ design, which envisions the museum as a preserver and interpreter of collective history, where countless artworks are regularly installed and removed. One historical meaning of the word “respire” is “to recover courage or strength after a time of difficulty.” Meditating on the fearful social climate we inhabit, we endeavor to collect our shared feelings of uncertainty and hope, creating a common space for reflection and a path forward.

Additionally, we pay homage to Merce Cunningham’s conception of “Common Time” – the idea that distinct components of music and dance can be both independent and interdependent without contradiction – here witnessed in the separate yet interconnected groups, as well as the creative dynamic between Moore and CabinFever’s musicians, which highlights both creative autonomy and interdependency.

For six years, CabinFever has distinguished itself through original, site-specific works that are inspired by and take place inside historical mansions and homes. CabinFever’s five musician-composers – Doug Barber, Lia Kohl, Gavin Price, Evan Anderson, and Patrick Glennon – typically create the score by drawing upon personal impressions of a site during an intense rehearsal/composition period of 4-6 days. The circumstances surrounding the creation of Respire open new territory for CabinFever. Our development process, extended over a two-week period, includes a public performance showcasing Respire’s work-in-progress music component and a studio recording session to document the experiment. Taking our inspiration from a public space – a museum – we face new conceptual challenges as well. In a space designed to be neutral, we must think differently about what it means to be site-specific: how do we respond to these vast spaces, crowds of people, and monumental acoustics?

Stephan Moore’s improvised reprocessing of our sound will both multiply and fragment our ensemble’s voice, emphasizing the ephemeral nature of our work. These differences, along with the increased attention and visibility of performing at the celebrated MCA, make this a pivotal performance in the company’s creative development.


Project Media

“Lillian” Performance
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Footage of the concluding ensemble segment of “Lillian.” This score and choreography were inspired by the life and work of sculptor Lillian Florsheim and the architecture of her mansion in Chicago’s Gold Coast. Performed February 19-21, 2016, the score features CabinFever musicians Gavin Price, Doug Barber, Lia Kohl, and Patrick Glennon, who wrote and recorded the production’s music within a 5 day rehearsal/composition period. This intense period of creation captures the ephemeral spirit of CabinFever’s approach to composition. Cue: 10:41-13:12

“Lillian” Recording
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Excerpt from the score of CabinFever’s original work “Lillian.” CabinFever musicians Gavin Price, Doug Barber, Lia Kohl, and Patrick Glennon recorded the production’s score on site to document the results of the week-long experiment in site-specific composition and performance. The score combines form and abstraction, electronics and acoustic sound, in part to capture the conflicting identities represented by the Florsheim Mansion’s design. Cue: 00:00 – 3:00 (corresponds to the live segment denoted in the cue for the accompanying video)

“Lillian” Stairwell Installation
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Footage of the stairwell installation of CabinFever’s production “Lillian,” (Feb. 19-21, 2016). Each night began with groups of musicians and dancers distributed around the Florsheim mansion and concluded with a final ensemble piece (depicted in above samples). Here musician Lia Kohl and dancer Emily Craver provide a preview of the quality and emotional dynamics that will define the distributed balcony performances of “Respire” at the MCA. They also demonstrate how CabinFever artists embody the performance space they inhabit. Cue: 3:28 – 5:32

Start and End Dates



Chicago, Illinois

4 updates
Last update on August 24, 2017

Project Created By

Chicago, Illinois
CabinFever is a Chicago-based performance company that creates site-specific work designed for and inspired by the location of each performance. Formed in 2011 in Seattle with the goal of reaching new audiences with contemporary dance and music, the company has distinguished itself by creating original multi-media performance art specially composed for homes and historical mansions.…

In Collaboration With

Chicago, Illinois
Electronics Improviser
Chicago, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois
New York City, New York
Choreographer/Artistic Director
Chicago, Illinois
New York City, New York


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