Fluid Measure began when two choreographers who like to talk met up with a storyteller who likes to move. Kathleen Maltese, Donna Mandel, and Patricia Pelletier are all hyperintelligent in body and mind, making them great fun to watch as they move in perfect synchronicity, then break; stylize a hand gesture that seems to wave both hello and good-bye, then actually whimper; and create an undulation of torso that is at once velvet, poignant, and sexy. They met in the early 80s in the rarefied atmosphere of MoMing, where they studied and performed with some of the best dancers in the country, who came for workshops and residencies. Fluid Measure have been working together long enough to develop as a vibrant, democratic ensemble. Who choreographs? They all do. Who writes? They do. Who directs? It’s Donna Mandel’s video camera that allows them to see their rehearsals and edit out what doesn’t work without a battle of wills. In Escape Velocity, the piece they perform this weekend, they lean into one another, fall, lean, catch themselves, catch one another, fall again. Maltese, Mandel, and Pelletier bring their diverse experience in art, classical ballet, and modern dance to the group; the result is part contact improvisation, part experimental theater, and part performance art. The work is quirky, personal, funny, sad, and at times psychologically dark and absurd. Friday and Saturday at 8 at Randolph Street Gallery, 756 N. Milwaukee; $5-$7. Call 666-7737.

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