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Axis Dance Company

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Dance by the disabled isn't as uncommon now as it was in 1987, when this company of the able-bodied and disabled was formed in the Bay Area. The troupe is more relevant than ever given recent controversies over what constitutes disability and what its consequences should be, if any--consider Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin (stripped of her title when she was photographed standing), Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby, and the Terri Schiavo case. Axis attracts top-notch choreographers, among them Bill T. Jones, whose Fantasy in C Major is on this program. Jones is an interesting choice because of his controversial 1994 piece Still/Here, about people with terminal illnesses. I see a huge leap from that dance to this one, which is notable for its sense of humor and ingenious, insouciant use of dancers in wheelchairs: instead of riffing on disability, Jones simply accepts it as a fact and uses it. The underlying message of this highly musical work, set to Schubert, is that the "disabled" are like other people but with cool moving chairs--at one point a dancer in a motorized wheelchair drags another dancer rapidly across the floor. And when a woman in a powered chair throws her head back and chest up as she races into the wings, it has the same feeling of freedom and triumph you'd get from a dancer carried forward by her legs. Also on the program are Sonya Delwaide's Suite Sans Suite, Victoria Marks's Dust, and Ann Carlson's Flesh, inspired by an E.M. Forster story about a futuristic society gladly enslaved by technology, with one holdout. Fri-Sat 4/22-4/23, 7:30 PM, Sun 4/24, 3 PM, Museum of Contemporary Art, theater, 220 E. Chicago, 312-397-4010, $22. Note: A moderated discussion follows the Friday show, and Q & As follow the Saturday and Sunday performances; free to ticket holders. There's also a training session for health-care professionals on integrated dance Saturday at 2 PM; $15, $10 for ticket holders.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Andy Mogg.

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