Live review | Other Dance Festival 2011: Week 2
There aren’t really any trends in Chicago’s dance scene. The second week of theseems hell-bent on proving the point; its six works have almost nothing in common besides the fact that they were all created in Cook County. But that won’t stop me from forcing them into pairs, which I’ll call…
…Team Terrarium. It’s that thing of walking up to the windows in a zoo’s exhibit and peeking at behavior in a sealed world: Jyl Fehrenkamp’s a boating incident, set to a Christopher Cross diptych of “Ride Like the Wind” and “Sailing,” offers up Jazzercise-like repetition of movement phrases that are technically original, yet drenched in familiarity. Some dance moves are just funny, plain and simple, although this incident’s composition is complex enough, its energy vibrant enough, to advance it from hipstery gimmick to five-person performance-art statement. (Fehrenkamp initiates the group’s exit with, “Let’s make a human boat!” of which she proudly becomes the prow, squinting into the vibrant colors of a Trapper Keeper sunset.)
As with prior works by Erin Carlisle Norton of, Burnshine, to ’s polyrhythmic track of the same name, is a scene from another highly stylized society. Norton’s company has almost completely turned over; only Laura Vinci de Vanegas remains from TMA’s triumphant 2010–11 season and, unfortunately, new dancers Alyssa Gregory, Amanda Gross and Angela Luem aren’t yet up to to the demands of Norton’s precision-dependent choreography (brilliantly tense, unpredictable and specific, as always).
…The Collage Club. Milk Nest, a trio by Janet Schmid, and an excerpt from Atalee Judy’s This Is a Damage Manual aren’t pieces you can stash inside of any genre without stray limbs and concepts jutting out every which way. Both works seem more concerned with projecting alternativeness than offering coherence. Nest skews toward shocks of incongruity (nearly first thing, one performer, Cristal Sabbagh, dramatically reveals her actual, pregnant belly) while Manual grabs at charged topics (death, Hitler, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Madonna) in between a sock-puppet skull’s self-help narration and ensemble choreography, the target of whose aggression isn’t entirely clear. These two pieces do open to promise, however, Schmid’s at its end and Judy’s at its beginning.
…The Supercolliders. The excerpt from Sharks Before Drowning that Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak showed atremains a stunning short, although it’s only a hint of . The introductory sequence, when three dancers edge toward us, lip-synching, is still more straight-up theater than dance, but later scenes, which used to be pure explorations of movement, now include suggestions of character in the dancers’ faces. Particularly noticeable this time around was how much of this choreography explores the moment at which an isolated action reaches the end of its trajectory and, in continuing, takes over the rest of the body. As with all of Shanahan’s work, Sharks is constantly evolving.
Similarly, an excerpt fromdirector Joanna Rosenthal’s IT is What it IS, to premiere in full next March at , brought two very different men together for a solo each and arm’s-length exchanges. Dressed like a circus strongman by designer Vin Reed, Trevor Szuba-Schneider, his back to us, dramatically conducts an invisible orchestra. Enter fey, long-limbed Adam Gauzza in a breakthrough performance which, in its confidence, recasts Szuba-Schneider’s physical power as a kind of fragility.