The world Rainer Maria Rilke evokes in his novel The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge has the mixed familiarity and strangeness of a foreign place. The novel’s narrator, like many modern-day gurus and writers of self-help books, says, “I am learning to see. . . . I have an inner self of which I was ignorant.” But Brigge is more uncertain than a guru, saying in the same passage, “Everything penetrates more deeply into me . . . what happens there I do not know.” Though a young man, Brigge is convinced that he’ll soon die, and fills his notebooks with morbid meditations on the poverty the old walls of his room have seen. In many ways Brigge is a heroic figure from the late Romantic era, a dying youth whose closeness to death leads to clarity of vision and a discriminating, even effete aestheticism. Our postpunk moment may have heroic figures like Kurt Cobain who are obsessed with death and suffering, but they’re passionate and savage rather than detached. Choreographers Sabine Fabie and Mark Schulze interpret Rilke’s tale intuitively, as a story about a couple who’ve lived together for many years and are infinitely familiar with each other but not really intimate. Their world is slowly disintegrating, and they long to change but do not know how. Set designer George Fabie fills the stage with heavy furniture, rooting the couple in their room, surrounded by their possessions. Fabie and Schulze’s dancing in this 50-minute work alternates between sensual, athletic sections and quiet, introspective ones. Friday and Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 7 at Link’s Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield; $8. Call 281-0824 for tickets and information.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo / William Frederking.