“Beautiful dynamite” was what Fred Astaire called Cyd Charisse–and Instruments of Movement artistic director James Morrow borrowed the expression for this program, performed by his mostly female troupe and dominated by several pieces focused on women or gender relations. When the seven women in Kirby Reed’s Lies in a Bow walked offstage after rehearsing the piece, I felt I was being advanced upon by a gang of Amazons, especially given their costumes: split skirts and sleeveless tops designed to show powerful legs and arms, the tops savagely laced across the belly. Other pieces are more whimsical. In James Sutton’s duet Laughing Matters, the man (guest artist Paul Christiano) wears a tux, the woman a prom dress, but they both sport Converse sneakers on this date from hell. Mostly they remain seated in chairs placed side by side, so the movement is minimal–but what there is is telling. A hand removed from a thigh or held speaks volumes; especially evocative is a mutual swooping motion from the waist that suggests a conversation taking off. Then abruptly the flow in this mostly ebbing exchange breaks off. Also amusing is Megan Williams’s brief solo for company member Raphaelle Ziemba, Reverie: the dancer’s tutu and the melodramatic correspondence between her movement and the old-timey song lyrics clearly indicate a tongue firmly in cheek. In a more serious vein, Ziemba’s sextet Episode Six suggests the dynamics of all-female groups: one or two dancers are consistently isolated from the others, and the duets have a twitchy, sometimes brutal feel; it’s the piece that made me glad all over again I’m not in seventh grade anymore. Also on all three programs is a new work by Davis Robertson, to be danced Friday night only by guest artists Matthew Prescott of the Joffrey and Cheryl Mann of Hubbard Street. Academy of Movement and Music, Doris Humphrey Memorial Theatre, 605 Lake St., Oak Park, 847-727-9728. Through January 12: Friday-Saturday, 8:30 PM; Sunday, 3 PM. $10-$12; $5 for children under eight.

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