Herve Robbe and Le Marietta Secret

You’ve got to admire the principled artists who snap their fingers at popular acclaim. For V.O. (the abbreviation for version originale, the French phrase signifying the subtitles on foreign-language films), French choreographer Herve Robbe interviewed people from France, Japan, and the United States about how they define dance, then assembled their words on a sound track and their photos on backdrops. A work essentially about languages and the act of translation, V.O. is highly abstract and efficiently danced, with carefully articulated Cunningham-like movements, emotionally uninvolved partnering, and occasional spastic vibrations and contortions of the limbs. Besides the interviewees’ voices (sometimes manipulated), the sound track includes machinelike pounding, atonal singing, and found sounds apparently recorded on the street or in other public places. The color of a dancer’s costume–red, white, or black–seems symbolic, though from the excerpts I saw it was impossible to tell what they might mean; in one section the dancers wear wire appendages resembling hoop skirts, wings, and helmets. Robbe’s company, Le Marietta Secret–the final entry in the EuroContempo portion of the Spring Festival of Dance–offers a free preview Monday at 12:15 in the auditorium of the Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State; call 312-747-4800 for information. Regular performances of the French and U.S. sections of Robbe’s triptych are Thursday, April 30, through next Saturday, May 2, at 8 at the Dance Center of Columbia College, 4730 N. Sheridan; $16-$18. Call 773-989-3310 for tickets and information. –Laura Molzahn