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is two short (dance) films exploring isolation, dysphoria, and dreams of potential transformation. Through tableaux, operatic voice, and their curious interactions, these trickster heroines explore desire, longing, and the quest for the external elixir (). Moving between conscious and subconscious places, these trickster characters enact both social and primal behavior, with an earnest desire to commune and elevate their status. Their vocalizations are hypnotic, reverent, absurd, and bizarre. Through images, movement, and sound, this film is an elusive narrative that creates a sense of bewilderment and curiosity.


Formidable Dreams takes place in urban, natural, and fantastical landscapes, using elements of Butoh, Opera, and improvisation as frameworks for exploration and development. Presentations and workshops evolve into interactive events featuring live performance with dancers, performers, musicians, and sculptural objects. Our dream is to represent Chicago’s fierce tenacity by traveling with these films to reach artists and tricksters the world over.

Directors statement:

We, Eugene Sun Park and Sara Zalek, began to work together in 2012 and collaborated on some successful projects before beginning Formidable Dreams. With themes of identity and loss in mind—personal, racial, national, ethnic, gender—we have found many creative confluences. Our interests in displacement, myth, and the surreal; the search for our subconscious selves, our humanity, and dreams of potential transformation. We look to comparative mythology to reframe and recontextualize origin stories, to reshape current paradigms of cultural identity. The trickster hero characters in these films move in liminal and subconscious spaces. They rediscover their relationship to the world through their connection to architecture and each other. Through images, movement, and sound, these characters create a sense of bewilderment and curiosity as beings who continually seek to rediscover themselves. We consider the creative potential in all humans as powerful shapeshifters, mythmakers, and transformers of culture.

Key artists working on this project included:


Eugene Sun Park

Sara Zalek

Tracy Pitts, Lexi Midkiff

Gwyneth Zelany Anderson
Stop-motion photography


Hereaclitus Here Vernon

Johanna Brock
Elaine Lemieux

Sara Zalek

Vocal and movement sequences

Sara Goodman

Glitch art and movement/sound

Hereaclitus Here Vernon

Art Direction and costumes

Sky Cubacub/ REBIRTH Garments

Costume commission

Colleen O'Sullivan


Jeff Schroeder

Gustavo Martin
Associate Producer/Production Manager/1st AD

Joe Lim
Grip/Camera Operator

Brian Zahm
Gaffer/Camera Operator

Ed Bornstein
Sound Mixer


Rebecca Ciprus

Ji Yang           

The film portion of this project is supported by Chicago Dancemakers Forum, an Individual Artist Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency through federal funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Cheney Foundation. Special thanks for development opportunities by Light Box, Detroit. For links to the full works, please contact me.

Formidable Dreams

A collage of images; closeup on Elaine LeMieux with facepaint, gold dress and bright blue cape, eyes downcast; center image is Sara Zalek singing before a tiled fireplace mantle where a man is seated watching them on the left; the right image is Johanna Weisbrock with their arm outstretched and mouth open in song in a doorway below a spiral staircase.

They question reality, authenticity, and the quest for the eternal elixir.

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