James Kelly Choreography Project | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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James Kelly Choreography Project



If there's one thing James Kelly does, it's take risks. The partnering in his work is unusually intricate and athletic, and the relationship of the dancing to the often-complex music is never easy or predictable. And he takes on risky subjects, as he did in What's Your Hand Doing There? a few years ago. This piece for three women and three men addresses sexual harassment, rape, and domestic violence. They're all part of the same package of abuse, especially as Kelly presents them--as endemic physical domination, seen in a male arm thrust between a woman's legs, a hand slapped on her stomach, a woman set straddled on a man's thigh like a child and rocked. But Kelly doesn't leave it at that--he also explores the ambiguities of male-female relationships in affectionate, sexy duets and in one sad, ringing image: as the men walk away, the women place a hand on their shoulders and follow after, reluctantly but not because they're forced. This plus two other past works--It's Not Where It's Me, a gymnastic piece for one woman and four men, and Untitled Duet, a gentle, respectful piece for two men--are part of a program that also includes two new dances. Don't Take Away My Mountain will be performed with a live gospel choir, the Chicago group called Love, Salvation & Devotion; it's the healing that follows What's Your Hand Doing There? And the ambitious Strings/4/Glass/Dance is a purely musical work inventively and vibrantly responsive to its Philip Glass score. Friday and Saturday at 8 in the auditorium of the Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State; $18 ($45-$500 for performance and benefit reception Saturday). Call 409-1222 for tickets and information.

--Laura Molzahn

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