John Cartwright finds humor in dance partnerships
John Cartwright finds humor in dance partnerships Credit: Cheryl Mann

Risk is the lifeblood of Thodos Dance Chicago’s annual “New Dances” program. Case in point: seasoned choreographer Jessica Miller Tomlinson and relative newcomer Michael McDonald joined forces for one of the eight premieres being presented by company dancers this year, to find out how her self-described “line-oriented” style would combine with what he calls his “ooey-gooey” fluidity. Turns out, they cook. Working day by day without a specific plan, Tomlinson and McDonald produced an intense, mysterious quintet called 93 83. An experimental rock composition by guitarist Adrian Belew and a stirring cello-piano piece by Christian Matjias and Crispin Campbell drive the dance to a furious emotional pitch.

Set to a Mozart piano concerto, John Cartwright’s polite Two Too couldn’t be more different from 93 83—at first glance, anyway. Two couples start out standing nestled together in classic ballet style, the ladies wearing superpoufy long tutus. But Cartwright says his ultimate goal was to “find the humor in partnerships,” so, of course, relations among the dancers devolve. Some rehearsal flubs even made their way into the choreography. Guest artist Brian Enos contributes his new Lullaby, and works by Jeremy Blair, Annie Deutz, Chelsea deVera and Josh Manculich, Ray Dones, Brian Hare, and Jon Sloven complete the program.