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Coordinated Efforts

Equal Footing/Earing at Link’s Hall, January 8-10 and 15-17 By Terry Brennan Heartbreak Loadout/Sunset Loop, choreographed and composed by Sheldon B. Smith, starts in a rollicking way. Seated in a corner of the stage with an electric guitar on his lap, surrounded by electronic equipment, Smith reaches over to a boom box and starts a […]

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Chicago Moving Company

Chicago Moving Company Watching Clinton’s impeachment in the House of Representatives, we watched the power of Christian fundamentalism at work. Fundamentalist movements around the world–Muslim, Hindu, and Jewish as well as Christian–revere the law and believe in following it to the letter; the alternative, in their eyes, is punishment by a wrathful god or legislature. […]

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Body Language

Relativity Chris Aiken and Kirstie Simson at the Dance Center of Columbia College, December 3-5 By Terry Brennan Modern dancers influenced by the minimalist movement–the search for the fundamentals of art–have produced substantially different results. The first generation of modern dancers, Martha Graham and Doris Humphrey, rebelled against ballet. The second generation, including Trisha Brown […]

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Netative Balance

Breaking Boundaries Dance Chicago ’98 at the Athenaeum Theatre, October 15; repeats October 29 David Antin begins his poem “Radical Coherency” with an answer to a critic, explaining why he creates collage poems. Halfway through, the poem turns on a dime and becomes a description of Antin taking his elderly mother to shop for shoes […]

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Stairways to Heaven

Forward Motion Dance Chicago ’98 at the Athenaeum Theatre, October 9 and 14; repeats October 24 By Terry Brennan Medieval artists found transcendence in Jesus’ suffering. Bach tried to build a circular staircase to heaven with counterpoint. Ignoring God and human society, Keats and Tennyson aimed to find direct spiritual access to nature. Christian mystics […]

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Sometimes a Lame Notion

Movable Beast Dance Festival at the Chernin Center for the Arts, June 20 and 21 By Terry Brennan During an after-show discussion on the last night of the Movable Beast Dance Festival, talk turned to whether an event like this one, a showcase for experimental dance, could succeed. One of the organizers, Asimina Chremos, said […]

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Body Over Mind

Le palindrome Compagnie Philippe Saire at the Museum of Contemporary Art, April 2-5 We’re midway through the festival of contemporary European dance being presented by the Dance Center of Columbia College, which opened a few weeks ago with Wim Vandekeybus’s company, Ultima Vez, and continued last weekend with Compagnie Philippe Saire from Switzerland. Moreover, a […]

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Mixed Messages

7 for a Secret Never to Be Told Wim Vandekeybus and Ultima Vez at the Merle Reskin Theater, March 19-21 By Terry Brennan Western Europe prizes its intellectuals, particularly its artists. They’re subsidized and given lots of attention. Audiences boo performers they don’t like, yet never expect entertainment, and they aren’t upset if they don’t […]

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Odd Squad

Ornate Rituals for Absurd Worlds Sheldon B. Smith and Dancers and Hijack at Link’s Hall, March 6-8 By Terry Brennan The title for this evening of dance is a dead giveaway: we’re in the domain of absurdism, a theatrical movement based in existentialism, which holds that we live in an absurd world in which life […]

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Staying in Shape

Next Dance Festival Frank Fishella, Paula Frasz, Carrie Hanson, and Winifred Haun & Dancers at the Harold Washington Library, January 30 and 31 Next Dance Festival Cerulean Dance Theatre, Amy Crandall, Cynthia Reid, Eduardo Vilaro, and Zephyr Dance at the Harold Washington Library, February 6 and 7 By Terry Brennan Eight years ago, Dan Wagoner […]

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Hearing Voices

Next Generation Project at the Dance Center of Columbia College, June 19-21 and 26-28 By Terry Brennan There are many seductive voices in our lives, including the candy-sweet voice of advertising. Even though we know the voice is lying, we’re drawn into the mountain scenery behind the cars: the open spaces appeal to city dwellers, […]

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Too Deep for the Mainstream

Jan Erkert & Dancers at the Athenaeum Theatre, April 3-6 By Terry Brennan In the last few years Jan Erkert & Dancers has emerged as the city’s leading modern dance company, a position solidified by the company’s selection to tour as part of the DanceLink project. In a competition in Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Florida, […]

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Behind the Mask

Nocturne Buto-Sha Tenkei at the Dance Center of Columbia College, February 13-15 By Terry Brennan Within Japanese tradition butoh is an unusual form. For much of Japan’s history, the center of creativity has been the natural world rather than the human. Haiku, its highest form of poetry, usually conveys a very simple image of nature. […]

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Boy Stories

Tap Dogs at the Shubert Theatre, through January 26 Of This Empty Place at Link’s Hall, January 17-19 By Terry Brennan When you analyze art, you often find a rich system of symbols and ideas that’s as satisfying as the work’s surface. But when you analyze entertainment it often just falls apart; instead of ideas […]