Bebe Miller Company | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Bebe Miller Company

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Bebe Miller's new evening-length piece, Landing/Place, has its origins in a 1999 trip she took to Eritrea to teach. Nervous before her first class, she became so involved in warming up she failed to notice that a group of 25 dancers had gathered round and were all trying to copy her stretching movements. Startled by this impromptu game of Simon Says, she stood up and started doing jumping jacks. The moment brought home to her how different the North African country was from New York, where she lived at the time. But as she later reported in a blog, it also made her feel that "all we need to do is say yes and enter the life around us, best we can." The thought that oddity and difference can be the jumping-off point for freedom also informs Landing/Place, which opens with a birdhouse as a prop and includes projected imagery of birds in flight. Though the piece has its somber side, notably a section on the floor for three dancers accompanied by video projections of a body of water, more often it's playful, as when a clump of four stomps in awkward unison, arms swinging, heads hanging low. Midair projections of digitized motion captures give Landing/Place a sense of ethereality and transcendence, visually cutting the floor out from beneath the dancers. 10/6-10/8: Thu-Sat 8 PM. Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 S. Michigan, 312-344-8300. $20-$24. Miller offers a master class Tue 10/4 at 6 PM; $15. Register at 312-344-8300. A family-oriented workshop-performance begins Sat 10/8 at 2:15 PM; $10 adults, $6 children.

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