A Public Display | Dance Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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A Public Display

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Oddly, a "public display" presupposes that what's displayed should have remained private. And the public production of inchoate, idiosyncratic material might also be the very definition of avant-garde dance. This program, featuring mostly work by local choreographers Robbie Cook, Sheldon B. Smith, and Lisa Wymore, also offers a solo, Music, by Deborah Hay, a classically avant-garde Judson Church choreographer in the 60s. Cook performs the piece by interpreting her written instructions, and though it has a kind of structure--early on he slaps his foot hard on the floor, for example, and toward the end whaps the stage with what looks like a carryall--it still feels intrusive to watch him stand with his back to us for minutes at a time, muttering like a sleepwalker, or shift his weight from foot to foot over and over until his machinelike motions become subtly more syncopated and fluid. Also on the program is a collaboration by Smith and Wymore, Inanimate Erotica #1, whose slicing, stop-start motions and stiff staggers forward, arms and legs wide, somehow suggest Toasters on Parade. Of course inanimacy and eroticism are mutually exclusive--what is sex without motion or volition?--which is what makes this an interesting excursion into the unknown. Cook and Wymore's duet Carnivores is far from savage or violent; instead they display a kind of slow-motion anomie--or perhaps it's gentle meditation (some of the choreography resembles tai chi, often based on animal movements). Lightening up the program is Cook and Smith's Women Was Scarce, with musical participation by Luke Rothschild, inspired by Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Here--as they pronounce beforehand in a videotape of an early version--it's "two brothers, no brides" as they explore the psyche of the contemporary urban male, using as props an armchair, a coffee table, a tiny folding chair, a giant newspaper, and a blond wig. Also on the program are Smith's Untitled Trio on the Subject of Beauty and Wymore's Slip/Transfer. Link's Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield, 773-281-0824. Through February 10: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM; Sunday, 7 PM. $12.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Sheldon B. Smith.

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