Compagnie Marie Chouinard

Perhaps most dancers and choreographers fetishize the body, but Canadian Marie Chouinard’s approach is radically fetishistic, whether she’s painting breasts blue or attaching nails to the body of the half-human creature in L’apres-midi d’un faune (seen here in 1995, the last time her company was in Chicago). The 11 dances in “Les solos 1978-1998,” a retrospective of her solo works performed by company members, all make the body strange and thereby magical; by extension human consciousness also comes to seem bizarre. In the 1986 S.T.A.B. (Space, Time and Beyond) a nearly naked woman in dehumanizing makeup wears a long, curving, flexible sword on her head, attached to a helmet; she seems predatory, martial, even insectlike as she stabs herself between the legs from behind, trembling, or talks incomprehensibly in a ragged, growling, possessed voice. In the 1998 Etude poignante a woman with pierced nipples, wearing a chain between them and a chain mail headpiece, folds her arms and hands into her body, flapping them in gathering, self-feeding motions. At once infantile, birdlike, atavistic, and futuristic, she seems a mythological creature, an archetype of some part of our consciousness we’d rather not know about. In this context a work like the 1980 Petite danse sans nom is almost refreshing: a woman drinks a glass of water, then pees in a bucket. After a thoughtful look down–am I done?–she picks up the bucket and walks offstage. Talk about economy! There’s a satisfying sense of closure to this simple, everyday but seldom staged action. Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:30 at the Shubert Theatre, 22 W. Monroe; $14-$39. Call 773-722-5463 for tickets and information.

–Laura Molzahn

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