Joe Goode tells stories. Blending text, movement, and live music, he looks at the way we live now and wonders if it could be better. His Gender Heroes (the first of two parts in the evening-length piece his San Francisco company will perform here) begins with questions: What if nothing is the way it seems? What if the stories we hear don't match the stories we live? First we listen to a man who recalls that as a boy he coveted his sister's fringed cowgirl skirt--why can't he wear it? he asks his horrified parents--and later undertakes a vagrant existence, sleeping in haylofts and fields with a man who seems both menacing and reassuring. Next a woman admiringly recalls her farmer-aunts ("three capital-W women"), though as a girl she was horrified by their chapped hands and smelly clothes. Set in a cartoonish Western landscape defined by schematic cacti and a projected backdrop of desert dunes, Gender Heroes is also a bit schematic and cartoonish in its choreography, which sometimes underscores the text too literally--talk about emotional support, for example, is paired with physical support. Goode has said that his mission is "to pierce the veil of toughness that we all have...and to uncover the vulnerable center, the confused, flailing human part of us that we conceal and avoid." That impulse leads to occasional cliches and sentimentality, but Gender Heroes does have a gentle, well-intentioned charm. The second part is Undertaking Harry, inspired by the life of San Francisco gay-rights activist Harry Hay. Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 S. Michigan, 312-344-8300. Opens Thursday, March 22, 8 PM. Through March 24: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM. $20. Note: There will be a FamilyDance Series narrated performance Saturday, March 24, at 3 PM (free movement workshop for parents and children at 2:15). $10 adults, $6 children. And Goode and members of his company will combine "storytelling, humor, and intellectual and emotional meditations" Sunday, March 18, from 5 to 7 at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln. $15.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Terrence McCarthy.