Dance Exchange performs The Matter of Origins | Performing Arts Sidebar | Chicago Reader

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Dance Exchange performs The Matter of Origins

Liz Lerman's cosmos at the Museum of Contemporary Art

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Liz Lerman has been busting open the world of dance since she started the Dance Exchange in 1976. Unlike most choreographers, she's often created works with strong political messages and regularly used elderly and disabled dancers. She left the helm of the Dance Exchange this year (Cassie Meador is its new artistic director). But before moving on Lerman created The Matter of Origins, which the Dance Exchange is performing here. The two-act, two-hour piece suggests that she's mellowed; her subject is the universe and our perceptions of it. The first act, performed onstage, is visually and aurally amplified by video projections, music, and recorded interviews with scientists and philosophers. Between the subject matter, the carnival-like environment, and some of the dancing—there are lots of falls and leaps off chairs—The Matter of Origins can come off as a scientific convention on drugs. Many of the duets, however, emphasize the caring nature of human interactions, particularly a gentle duet for a couple who look to be in their 70s. The second act, a "tea," seats the audience at tables in a "party room." Expect more performances, as well as conversation, there.

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