Don't fear the reaper: Geezer dance breaks down ageist barriers | Bleader

Don't fear the reaper: Geezer dance breaks down ageist barriers


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Perceptual Motion, Inc.
  • Amber Jeanette Thompson
  • Perceptual Motion, Inc.
Of all the arts, dance is the most closely fastened to a dying animal (to quote Yeats), and thus the most ageist of art worlds. But old people can still shake it. Or at least wiggle it.

Remarkably, three multigenerational Chicago troupes are proving that fact over just a three-week period. Last Saturday, it was Annie Rudnick's marvelous Agree Performance, with 15 members between the ages of 17 and "young at heart." The overflow crowd at Links Hall/Constellation positively ate up Rudnick's 45-minute We Hope, Conspire, whose standouts included WW II vet Frank Schmidlin in a wheelchair dance and photographer Carol Duet, who stalked onstage, using a walker, as deliberately as a panther.

If you're gonna get old, you better have a sense of humor. Two seriocomic murder mysteries are highlights of Perceptual Motion's show this Thursday and Friday at Hamlin Park. Choreographed by artistic director Lin Shook, 64 and still dancing, Whodunit (2006) and its sequel, the new Who Killed George?, mine the talents of five dancers ranging from 23 to 79, playing the five nicely delineated suspects. Singer-actor-dancer Helene Alter-Dyche, teetering on the cusp of 80, not only moves with unmistakable authority but, in Mildred Rivera's La Vie en Rose, delivers Edith Piaf's signature song.

On May 4-5 at Next Theatre, Ginny Sykes presents Bodies of Memory, based on her family history and featuring 83-year-old actor Elaine Bachman and dancers age 14 to 63. Cross your fingers that Sykes's efforts—she thinks it's important to see older women onstage—break down ageist barriers, because we'll all be geezers someday. If we're lucky.

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