Mushy dances have never been my thing–give me a good laugh or a reason to get mad instead of some gloppy pabulum. So I’m happy that the “Duets for My Valentine” program (returning courtesy of massage therapist Bob Barrett after a one-year hiatus) is never just romantic fluff. Consider the piece that Hubbard Street Dance Chicago performer Cheryl Mann choreographed for the show: Superfly is set to excerpts from the themes for Mission: Impossible, the James Bond movies, Batman, Superman, and Rocky. Dancers Banning Roberts and Robert Knowles (members of Hubbard Street 2) wear what Mann calls “speed skater unitards” and giant goggles, sit on each other’s heads, and salute while being held upside down. I’m not quite sure what their heroic posturing has to do with romance, but it’s plenty entertaining. Also on the program is Mann’s Monk-E Business, a spoof of the Shaolin Monks, performed here by Impetus Dance Theater. Other duets include August Tye’s between a dancer and a musician and Mark Yonally’s “sexy tap dance” (I’ve seen his company, Chicago Tap Theatre, and they are sexy). No less than five Joffrey dancers–Michael Anderson, Elizabeth Mertz, Deanne Brown, Domingo Rubio, and Trinity Hamilton–are presenting new pieces on the program, plus there will be works by Melissa Thodos, Katie Wells of Anatomical Theatre, Sarah Ford, Jamie Horban, Mark Hackman of Cutman Dance Crash, Julie Petry, Michael Rioux of Impetus Dance Theatre, and Anna Simone Levin of Same Planet Different World Dance Theatre. Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, 312-902-1500; 773-935-6860 for information. Through February 15: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM. $20-$25.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Lisa Spindler Photography.