Liz Lerman Dance Exchange | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Liz Lerman Dance Exchange

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In this day when all the hip performers seem to make a big to-do about questioning, shocking, or enlightening their audiences, Washington, D.C., choreographer Liz Lerman has a simple appeal: she makes dances that attract an audience. Once she has their eyes, ears, minds, and hearts, she might very well question, shock, or enlighten. But she always seems to do so in a warm, funny, and very human way. Take Anatomy of an Inside Story, a solo in which Kimberli Boyd tells stories passed down in an African American family. The emotional range of her tales runs from anger and confusion to compassion and sweet affection. When she dances, her body sings a song that sometimes echoes her words and sometimes responds to them in a jarring gut reaction. As a choreographer, Lerman has been working with senior citizens since 1976. Her professional company, the Dance Exchange, employs four dancers over the age of 55 and is founded on her belief that "all people should have access [to dance], no matter what their age, ability, or body type." This is not some token, grant-getting ploy, but an integral part of Lerman's artistic vision--it's a celebration of people dancing, not dancers dancing. The Dance Exchange has been in town since November 14 creating a new dance with 15 senior citizens from the area (including Tommy Gomez, renowned member of the original Katherine Dunham Dance Company). The result, which will be shown Saturday evening, promises to question, shock, or enlighten us in a very attractive way. On both evenings, the Dance Exchange will also perform works from their repertory and will share the bill with the Mordine and Company Dance Theatre, now entering its 25th anniversary season. Friday and Saturday at 8 at the Dance Center of Columbia College, 4730 N. Sheridan; $14-$15. Call 271-7928 for tickets and information.

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