For me, David Rousseve's new dance-theater piece, Love Songs, is a collection of brilliant shards. I know the story: the tragic love of John and Sara, set in the brutal context of slavery. I know the music: a selection of great arias, from Wagner to Puccini. I know that the set suggests a ballroom, and that the dancers sometimes manipulate oversize puppets (underwritten by the Jim Henson Foundation Project, no less). I know that Love Songs employs 25 local people, performers and nonperformers alike, of all ages, shapes, and colors, who play against their types. I know that the "emotional subtext" is autobiographical though the story is made up, because Rousseve told me so. I know that the piece opens with a brief scene between a young girl and her mother, who wants to give her daughter a vision of her ancestors. And having seen the piece as a work in progress last February, I know it's filled with funny but sad modern-day vignettes, distinctive characters (like the man with a deep love for his "little yellow licky-licky dog"), and such striking scenes as a duet for two women, one of whom is horrifyingly inert. What I don't know is how it's all going to come together, though I think I can predict a big, messy, and affecting work--Rousseve himself calls it "a roller coaster." See for yourself Friday and Saturday at 8 at the DePaul Merle Reskin Theater, 60 E. Balbo; $15-$20. Call 773-989-3310 for tickets and information. --Laura Molzahn
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Peter Ross.