Molly Shanahan's dances are never, ever easy--they tug the mind in one direction, only to abandon that tangent and take up another. Yet somehow they usually coalesce into a mysterious whole. Shanahan's new solo, Sweet Ruthless, seems to be made up of snapshots or diary entries, memories of a love affair that's over. Marked by numbered shreds of text ("Number four: a short dress draped for weeks over a bedroom chair"), it's also defined by repeated movements: a sensuous motion of the hips in a slow-motion walk, a gaze into the palm as the dancer's foot flips back. Performing the piece herself, Shanahan makes it simultaneously matter-of-fact and weighty, giving it a breathy, elusive emotion. Another new piece, a quartet called A Questionable Advantage, is Shanahan's attempt at a humorous dance, but by her own admission it's more abstract and witty than laugh-out-loud funny, as four self-absorbed people flirt, form couples, and finally abandon each other to fling themselves at us in blatant bids for approval. Also on this program of seven works--"Coaxing the Tame," for which the troupe returns to Northwestern University five years after its inaugural appearance there--is A Pride of Hellions, a full-company piece that premiered during Dance Chicago '98. Friday and Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 2 in the Marjorie Ward Marshall Dance Center of Northwestern University, 1979 South Campus Dr. in Evanston; $6-$10. Tickets available only at the door; call 773-296-0218 or 847-491-3147 for information. --Laura Molzahn
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.