Les Chanteuses du rien AKA Trickster Quartet consists of Sara Zalek (vocal movement), Elaine Lemieux (mezzo-soprano), and Hanna Brock (violinist).

We explore the dynamics of resonance in relation to space using genres of classical scores, experimental opera, improvised sound, expanded cinema, and Butoh dance.  Our gestures come from strong desire to communicate intimately, to seek an opening to our fears in an embrace. Ultimately, we want to surprise, disarm, and uplift the spirit, to continue weaving the long tail of our evolutionary story. We have been making in this collective for two years, in collaboration with many outstanding venues in Chicago, including Chicago Cultural Center, Edgar Miller Legacy Studio, Silent Funny, Ragdale Foundation and the Hungry Brain. We are touring extensively in 2018-9. We have been supported by Chicago Dancemakers Forum, Cheney Foundation, the City of Chicago, New England Foundation for the Arts, and the Ragdale Foundation, and many private philanthropists.

Formidable Dreams has evolved into series of performance acts by the artists born as these trickster heroines, often out of time, overstimulated, disillusioned, between conscious and subconscious states.
Through tableaux, operatic sound, and interactions between audience, architecture, and curious objects, the characters create a sense of bewilderment and curiosity. These beings continually seek to rediscover themselves. The films are artifacts of our continual evolution. The skin we shed.

Segments of these films have been exhibited as Expanded Cinema, and we are in various stages of editing and staging public performances. Follow us by getting on our list, or coming to our live events, we perform often.

It all started with an idea between Co-Conspirators: Sara Zalek & Eugene Sun Park. An idea for a series of films inspired by FORMIDABLE DREAMS. This film will premiere in Chicago at Elevate Chicago Dance, October 21, 2018 in the Claudia Cassidy Theater @The Chicago Cultural Center. This event is all day and open to the public. More than 50 Chicago Dancemakers will show their work and dedication to the craft of dance.


Join us!

Formidable Dreams is a short film 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. In 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 vocalisations 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 travelling 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.

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.

video by Ji Yang

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

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