The Dance COLEctive under pressure | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Dance COLEctive under pressure

In "Free/Bound," Margi Cole and company deal with difficulties formal, emotional, and environmental.


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If the two premieres offered in "Free/Bound" are any indication, the Dance COLEctive's Margi Cole favors working under pressure. The new solo she's dancing, Leaving and Wanting by Molly Shanahan, was created during a heat wave last summer, in a studio-cum-hotbox on the top floor of a Park District field house. They had only ten days together, and Shanahan's life was in upheaval throughout: not only was she packing to leave Chicago for grad school but her mom was dying. Yet the dance never feels rushed or overwrought. In vintage Shanahan style, it takes its time, repeats, and builds emotion as Cole wonderingly regards her own, apparently involuntary moves.

The creative path for the other new piece, Cole's In Orderly Fashion, was tortuous in its own way. It began with a long list of limits on the seven dancers' interactions—no touching your partner with your hands, for instance—that ruled out their usual style of improvisation. Then Cole gave each partner in the duets a different set of restrictions. Not surprisingly the dancers come across as alienated from one another, even slightly hostile. Meanwhile, Philip Elson's buzzy score sets the nerves on edge. A revival of Cole's 2009 13 (celebrating both the Dance COLEctive's 13th anniversary and becoming a teenager) completes the program.

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