Using text, music, still images, and acted scenes as well as movement, David Rousseve creates dance theater that shows a lot of savvy about what's dramatic and what's not: he knows that a whisper can be more riveting than a shout, that humor will carry an audience further than haranguing, that words offer music as well as meaning. Working with pop songs, both contemporary and classic, he transforms them with choreography in a modern-dance idiom or in pop styles inflected by modern dance. Working with the African-American experience, he translates often-familiar ideas into strong, immediate images. But as his 1992 evening-length Urban Scenes/Creole Dreams revealed, these images sometimes hit too hard: despite what he knows about subtlety and indirection, Rousseve shows an occasional tendency to fall from drama into melodrama. It's as if he's been carried away by his own momentum. His world premiere here, Whispers of Angels (brought to town by Performing Arts Chicago, as Urban Scenes was), is said to deal with such issues as father-son relationships, AIDS, and violence; and once again Rousseve has chosen some bang-up collaborators, among them rap/house musician Me'Shell NdegeOcello and gospel great B.J. Crosby (who brought down the rafters in Urban Scenes). He's also gathered some 30 Chicagoans to act as a sort of Greek chorus, commenting on the action in movement and words alike. Thursday, September 28, at 7:30 and Friday and Saturday at 8 at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport; $22-$32. Call 722-5463 or 663-1628 for tickets and info.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Daniel Scott.