Mad Shak Dance Company | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Mad Shak Dance Company

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If I tell you what artistic director Molly Shanahan's new piece is "about," you might not go: the nature of action and perception, the supposed difference between art and "real life," the unity of the self--or lack thereof. But you should know that the 45-minute So-Called Repetition is far from dry. Beautiful, oblique rather than didactic, and deeply felt, this mostly solo work is performed by Shanahan with a little help from a second dancer and a lot of help from her collaborators: Esther Palmer, who's expertly manipulated the video footage Shanahan shot, and Kevin O'Donnell, who's composed a brilliantly layered, often sad and thoughtful score for piano, violin (played by Andrew Bird), and percussion. This is the third time Shanahan has worked with Palmer, and the video dimension of the piece is richer than in any of their previous collaborations: some of the video is recorded, primarily in Link's Hall and the company's Berger Park rehearsal space, some is live, and there are projections on two walls, including the one outer wall, where even a plain square of projected light on the uncurtained windows makes a painting of what's outside--the el passing, the porches of buildings across the way. The video images communicate affection for both spaces; in both, a single beat-up folding chair is the only prop. Yet Shanahan's fluid, passionate dancing and use of shadows and of layered and multiple projections give a sense of wonder to everyday life, where truly there is no repetition: every moment, live or recorded, choreographed or improvised, is unique. Link's Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield, 773-743-8014. Opens Thursday, March 13, 8 PM. Through March 23: Thursdays-Sundays, 8 PM. $12, or "pay what you can" on Thursdays.

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