Jane Comfort and Company | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Jane Comfort and Company



The protagonists in Jane Comfort's Persephone and Underground River both travel to an underworld, an experience that comes across as simultaneously liberating and dangerous. But their destinations are very different: where Persephone of course visits Hades' kingdom and becomes his bride, the person represented by four dancers in Underground River is a girl in a coma, trapped in her own psyche. The newer of the two pieces, Persephone, suffers a bit for its predictability, but 1998's Underground River is a joyful, often hilarious exploration of a state we might not think of as fun. The four dancers run around with a tattered umbrella, make a small cloth puppet stand up and finally fly and swim, and manipulate folded pieces of paper to look like birds, creating the sense of a childlike being charmingly detached from the demands of everyday life, represented in voice-overs by her parents and perhaps a physical therapist. But when the character eventually walks away from the voices calling her, I found it devastating. I guess I've reached the age where I identify with the grieving moms: while Persephone's travails pretty much left me cold--I knew exactly what she was learning underground, and I didn't care--Demeter's wails went right to my heart. Unfortunately she's not the focus of the dance. Opens Thu 12/2, 8 PM. Through 12/4: Fri-Sat 8 PM, Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 S. Michigan, 312-344-8300, $20-$24. Note: Comfort is giving a talk Friday, 12/3, at 7 PM for ticket holders, and there will be a family matinee Saturday, 12/4, at 3 PM (a workshop begins at 2:15 PM); $10 adults, $6 children.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Arthur Elgort.

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