Dark vaudeville and lighthearted dance | Performing Arts Sidebar | Chicago Reader

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Dark vaudeville and lighthearted dance

Same Planet Different World's two premieres are darkly cynical and deceptively lighthearted


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Choreographer Joanna Rosenthal channels the pain and anger of struggling artists in her dark new trio, It Is What It Is. One of two premieres on Same Planet Different World Dance Theatre's 15th-anniversary program (appropriately titled "Fifteen"), the vaudeville-rooted piece features vaguely vintage costumes by Vin Reed that hug the dancers' bodies, revealing more than they conceal. Rosenthal's knowing choreography foregrounds seduction and cynicism. Recorded cabaret-style songs alternate with long periods of silence and the performers' sporadic singing of "Let Me Entertain You" from Gypsy. Rage breaks out, briefly, in wide-legged stomping; despair, perhaps over a dying art, singes the piece around its edges.

The other premiere is Peter Carpenter's Rituals of Abundance for Lean Times #5: Lavish Possession—the latest in his series on wealth of all kinds. Set to Michael Caskey's buzzy, percussive score, this quartet—like the other works in the series—is powered by Carpenter's thoughtful, deceptively lighthearted observations, spoken by the dancers. Fluid, spare choreography drives insights home. Colleen Halloran's 2003 After Many Years and Ashleigh Leite's 2007 The Drift League complete the evening.

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