Last August this pickup company headed by dancer-choreographers Holly Quinn and Julia Rhoads planned to put on an evening-length work, Rituals of Polite Seduction, in a Chicago Park District field house. But the show's brief run was canceled when performer Sheldon B. Smith's mother died on opening night. Standing on the stairs leading up to the performance space with other overheated patrons, I wondered when, if ever, the work would be performed. The answer is: this Thursday and Friday and next. A piece about sex, gender roles, and memory, Rituals weaves together many motifs, returning again and again to the opening tableau to flesh it out. Strawberries and apples figure prominently, as do helmets; men wear petticoats, and women wear pig ears or waltz with Styrofoam heads. The dancing is varied and evocative, especially a duet for Quinn and Rhoads: their elastic, almost writhing movement, often with open mouths or while holding apples between their teeth, is troublingly sexual. It's almost a relief when they roll themselves up in long lengths of white paper, then abandon their cocoons at the rear of the stage. Collaborating with Quinn and Rhoads--who've danced with Xsight! Performance Group--are Smith, Stone Damon, Luke Rothschild, and Annie Beserra. With its projected video, live and recorded music, and expansive stage that ends up as littered with props as most playrooms are with toys, this piece is an ambitious undertaking by a small, brave group. Hamlin Park Field House, second floor, 3035 N. Hoyne, 773-862-9029 or 773-862-9484. Through December 22: Thursdays-Fridays, 8 PM. $10 suggested donation, only at the door.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/William Frederking.