Narrative dances are always a little odd, more metaphorical than realistic–after all, the characters are expressing their feelings and interactions through movement. Such dances need to be pieced together more than most plays, so seeing one in snippets can be disorienting. Still, a rehearsal of bits and pieces from Kevin Iega Jeff’s Naeemah’s Room by River North Chicago Dance Company revealed a lot of promise. At the beginning, three kneeling dancers creep behind one walking slowly, presumably the central character (reportedly based on Iega’s sister, who suffered an emotional breakdown in the last years of her life). Danced by Stephanie Martinez, she looks bewildered, only vaguely aware that her family members (as Iega identifies them) are with her at all. The image of these three physically connected to her but often “invisible” is a beautiful metaphor for the way loved ones abide with us whether we know it or not. One assumes the rest of the dance shows us how the protagonist reached this state; among the characters is a man who seems to consistently reject her–when he turns his back on her at one point, Iega coaches the dancer to make it an “arrogant transition.” There’s a lot of acting in this piece, which premiered in August, and River North is well suited to deliver it. Also on the programs is another narrative dance, a company premiere by Harrison McEldowney. He describes The Box as “basically a solo” and a serious piece–a departure for the usually antic choreographer–focused on hands: one man has his caught in a box, then cut off, while another uses his to beat the first up. For the other dances on the River North programs, see the listing. Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, 312-902-1500; 773-935-6860 for information and subscriptions. Opens Friday, November 15, 8 PM. Through November 24: Saturdays, 8 PM; Sunday, November 24, 3 PM. $20-$25.

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