Women so pervade the dance world that at times their preeminence fades from view–especially when male choreographers and dancers garner more than their share of attention. Inaugurating a new series at Link’s Hall on women mentors, this program features the abundant talents and energy of four Chicago women: Shirley Mordine and her former students Ann Boyd, Colleen Halloran, and Atalee Judy. Each has come up with a new dance-theater solo, to be linked with the others by T.W. Li’s poetic, largely abstract videos. Watching the works in rehearsal I was struck by how each commented, however obliquely, on the experience of being female. In the humorous All Things, Halloran uses running a marathon as a metaphor for how we challenge ourselves–though self-doubt plagues her at the end, suddenly reversing her euphoria. The backdrop for Judy’s Logotype 03, one in a series, is a video of symbolic, surreal, and/or pornographic images; an unusually powerful figure, Judy alternately throws herself around the space and stops dead, bringing her hand to her crotch, then moving her palm out in a gesture of offering. In Boyd’s piece, tentatively titled “Mending,” she appears amid helium flowers in fairy-tale garb with a giant spool of thread on her back; her monologue and recorded score address “what every little girl wants.” And Mordine’s solo, American Stories, includes reminiscences of her own childhood and youth illustrating men’s expectations of women; ultimately we see these experiences in light of the story of Medea–whom she describes as “not a woman willing to compromise.” Making witty use of tiny props and the telling or evocative gesture, Mordine shows in this piece that she won’t put herself on the shelf either–nor should she. Link’s Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield, 773-281-0824. Through January 26: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sunday, 7 PM. $12.

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