Polished form is both the subject and the medium of Same Planet Different World Dance Theatre’s new Impolite Society, a collaboration between artistic director Anna Simone Levin and artistic associate Jeffery Hancock. A piece featuring four women and three men (one of them a disapproving butler), it shows clearly how social rituals breed distance instead of intimacy, breaking down the problem by gender. The men’s “polite” gestures, like shaking hands, devolve into competitive physical hostilities (running a race, wrestling). The women’s are equally physical but more restrained: exaggerated laughter sends arms and legs flying dangerously, for example, while a cutting motion with the hand over the mouth suggests malicious whispering. For both sexes the game of scissors, paper, rock works as a metaphor for one-upmanship. What’s ironic is that the violent partnering in Impolite Society, especially between the men, requires considerable cooperation. Though the piece essentially denigrates polish, it is itself polished and well organized, even including an erudite allusion to Nijinksy’s Afternoon of a Faun (the ultimate impolite dance). By contrast Jan Erkert’s Antigamente (Portuguese for “time that is ancient”) looks instinctive, unmotivated by choreographer or dancer: originally a solo that Erkert made into a group piece a few years ago, it features dancers in piles of leaves who are as lost to the whims of strange forces as leaves in wind. Also on the program are Levin’s Mujeres Caidas, featuring women and washtubs; Throwing Stones, a new piece by company member Joanna Rosenthal; and Eclat, an improvisational solo created for Levin by Marcelo Evelin. Harold Washington Library Center, auditorium, 400 S. State, 773-784-6503. Through October 26: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM. $15-$20. Note: A company benefit will be held Saturday night, beginning at 6:30 PM with hors d’oeuvres and continuing after the performance with dessert and wine; tickets are $50.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Filler.