Chicago Dance Review: NEW DANCES 2014 (Thodos Dance Chicago)

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by Lawrence Bommer on July 19, 2014

in Theater-Chicago

ELEVATED EXPERIMENTS

Now in its 14th season, New Dances 2014, Thodos Dance Chicago’s weekend-long premiere at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts is a grueling, ambitious, and often successful showcase for nine company members. Instead of marching to another’s rhythms, they’re here allowed to design their own dances.

Thodos ensemble member Annie Deutz leaps over Tenley Dorrill in Jon Sloven’s Unattended Baggage, which debuted July 18-20, 2014 as part of Thodos Dance Chicago’s 14th Annual New Dances series. Photo by Cheryl Mann

Maybe it’s because these performers are so used to dancing together, but the range of movement among these nine works was less than a random recital might produce. Still, the results were entertaining to impressive. And there can be no question of the stamina of these all-enduring artists. Few of these twelve ever got time off except during one intermission. Talk about dancing till you (almost) drop.

(from left) Ashley Michalek and Tenley Dorrill form a duo as the trio of Katy Kowalski, Alissa Tollefson and Annie Deutz look on in Jon Sloven’s Unattended Baggage, which debuted July 18-20, 2014 as part of Thodos Dance Chicago’s 14th Annual New Dances series. Photo by Cheryl MannThe most interesting items came at the end of the first act. Annie Deutz’ choreographed “Light, Gain and Gloaming” used music from the last group to create a surging, twirling play of couples caught in the stops and starts of struggle, as well as one languorous duet that virtually turned sex vertical. Equally absorbing was Diana Winfree’s ecstatic quartet in “Faultless,” a work that began with an apparent music miscue (or, given the title, was that intentional irony?). It was filled with mystical yearning, a free flowing, mood-changing propulsion of intelligent energy.

Performed to Yo Yo Ma’s “Primacy of Numbers,” Kyle Hadenfeldt’s “Asparas” used a kind of reverse mating to show the five women engaged in a frantic and urgent courtship choreography while two men engaged in their own elegant escapism.

Thodos ensemble members Kyle Hadenfeldt and Diana Winfree in guest choreographer Kristina Isabelle’s Innerscapes, which debuted July 18-20, 2014 as part of Thodos Dance Chicago’s 14th Annual New Dances series. Photo by Cheryl Mann

Opening the second half, Jon Sloven’s “Unattended Baggage” was full of spinning elegance, a kind of stately aerobics (and no lost luggage). The wryly named “Flawed,” created by John Cartwright, employed fog and an eclectic score to create a rhapsodic duet for perfect partners Maiana Sena and Brandon Harneck.

Thodos ensemble member Lauren Zimmer with Ashley Michalek in guest choreographer Kristina Isabelle’s Innerscapes, which debuted July 18-20, 2014 as part of Thodos Dance Chicago’s 14th Annual New Dances series. Photos by Cheryl Mann

“Fare Thee Well,” a downhome-decent debut by Alissa Tollefson, used three folk songs about parting to create solos, duets, and a group romp that ranged from exuberant to communal.

Maiana Sena and Brandon Harneck perform Thodos Ensemble member John Cartwright’s Flawed which debuted July 18-20, 2014 as part of Thodos Dance Chicago’s 14th Annual New Dances series. Photo by Cheryl Mann

Marred by less than tight dancing in unison, Brandon Harneck’s “Co-“ undulated into mysticism  as six dancers in monochromatic costumes indulged in what seemed to be florid robotics. Equally cryptic, the all-female “Night Windows” by Tenley Dorrill used John Adams’ romantic but minimalist musical to engage in a jagged, jerky, and very mercurial combination of swirling turns and placating supplication.

Thodos ensemble member Brandon Harneck’s new work Co-, a work for six dancers, debuted July 18-20, 2014 as part of Thodos Dance Chicago’s 14th Annual New Dances series. Photo by Cheryl Mann.

Finally, the dozen performers united in the surging finale “Innerscapes” by Kristina Isabelle. Using spotlights to focus the movement, some more fog, and a strange fusion of Mitchell Akiyama’s modernist sounds and Bach’s traditional ones, this group effort created fascinating shifts in speed and scale that proved as dramatic (as in theatrical) as anything on the program.

Thodos ensemble member Diana Winfree’s new work Faultless features (from left) Elizabeth Dickson, Tenley Dorrill, Winfree and Lauren Zimmerer. Winfree’s new work debuted July 18-20, 2014 as part of Thodos Dance Chicago’s 14th Annual New Dances series. Photo by Cheryl Mann.

All in all, here’s proof that those who dance can also dream, step by step.

Maiana Sena and Brandon Harneck perform Thodos Ensemble member John Cartwright’s Flawed which debuted July 18-20, 2014 as part of Thodos Dance Chicago’s 14th Annual New Dances series. Photo by Cheryl Mannphotos by Cheryl Mann

New Dances 2014
Thodos Dance Chicago
Ruth Page Center for the Arts
1016 N. Dearborn Street
scheduled to end on July 20, 2014
for tickets, call 312.266.6255
or visit www.thodosdancechicago.org

for info on other Chicago Theater, visit www.TheatreinChicago.com

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