Pick Up Performance Company | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Pick Up Performance Company

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David Gordon has been making dances for more than 40 years--and has been married to Valda Setterfield for almost as long. Now the two of them appear in an evening-length piece, Private Lives of Dancers, that reiterates many of the themes running throughout his work, including a fascination with showbiz despite (or perhaps because of) his involvement with the Judson Church group and an interest in "framing the individual, fleeting act," as dance scholar Sally Banes puts it in Terpsichore in Sneakers. As it turns out, the private lives of dancers are like the private lives of everyone else: mundane, repetitive, gossipy. The first half of the piece shows dancers rehearsing material from a work they perform in the second half. But marking the movement--performing it small and with little effort--makes it as flat as their conversation, which revolves around relationships, food, and home furnishings. They might as well be sitting at computer terminals and gabbing. At the same time, what they talk about sometimes raises issues central to Gordon's piece: when Setterfield insists that pregnant dancers should be able to continue their careers, it makes us wonder at what age dancers "should" retire. She and Gordon must be in their 60s yet they "perform" in this work, circling the stage and occasionally joining the other five dancers during the "real" performance. Those quotation marks are crucial: you can't write about Gordon without them, because his interest lies not in dance but in metadance, not in theater but in metatheater. Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 S. Michigan, 312-344-8300. Opens Thursday, October 17, 8 PM. Through October 19: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM. $20-$24.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Victor Giganti.

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