Nine Bob Dylan Songs | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Nine Bob Dylan Songs

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It's a clever idea: send up Twyla Tharp's Nine Sinatra Songs with an evening of works set to or inspired by the voice of the next generation, Bob Dylan. Dancer-choreographers Selene Carter and Robbie Cook invited their collaborators to riff on Dylan--his themes, his time, his words or music. And since Dylan's output is more eclectic than Sinatra's, "Nine Bob Dylan Songs" is harder to categorize than its namesake. A partial preview showed a range of approaches so broad that the common thread almost disappears. Still, Dylan's music, however reconfigured, provides a surprisingly rich lode. Cook sets a piece to the shifting rhythms of "Spanish Harlem Incident," accompanied by Luke and Holly Rothschild on vocals and squeeze box. After a bluesy, almost directionless opening, a trio of dancers responds to the uptick in tempo with unified, athletic leaps and bounds. Though Cook says he wasn't responding to the lyrics--"You surround me so I know I'm really real"--the dance does seem to express feelings of unity and mutual support. By contrast Beth McNeill makes the lyrics of "Subterranean Homesick Blues" her explicit text. As audio clips of the 1960s remind the audience of the song's context, two dancers keep trying to reconnect in the face of all obstacles. The evening also includes Matthew Hollis's comic performance piece Nestled on the Brink, set (loosely) to covers of Dylan's "Just Like a Woman"; Carter's reinterpretation of a rock concert as a dance, set to Dylan-based music by Kevin O'Donnell; and four other pieces. That's only eight, but who's counting? Link's Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield, 773-281-0824. Through April 14: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM; Sunday, 7 PM. $12.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Sheldon B. Smith.

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