Robin Lakes can't stand pretty dances, where the movement flows by smoothly but doesn't leave a trace. She likes dances that stay in memory. Her "rough dances"--a term derived from Peter Brook's book The Empty Space--deal with stark realities like prisons, concentration camps, urban alienation, and wakes. Like Brecht, Lakes tries to awaken her audience; if that requires rough treatment, it can't be helped. Still, she stays within the inherently pretty language of modern dance. In Dissonance, an evening-length work about the Holocaust, the audience looks at the dancers through tightly stretched strands of barbed wire; in the "Labor #1" section the dancers roll each other's bodies along a harshly lit path on the stage as if rolling half-dead prisoners out of their bunks for another day of work. (The excerpts performed, including "Labor #1," will not use the barbed-wire set.) Coming Together is a dance inspired by Frederic Rzewski's music and the writings of Sam Melville, who was jailed for political bombings and killed in the Attica prison riots of 1971. Six dancers, trapped in nine-by-nine-foot "cells" under bare light bulbs, occupy themselves with push-ups, shadowboxing, and pacing. Other dances in this retrospective include Lakes's 1980 Diamond Hard, 1985's Wake, and a premiere of Hungry Heart Dances, the first section of a planned evening-length dance, which Lakes says is based on "the rituals of table etiquette and obsessions with food." Friday and Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 7 at the Blue Rider Theatre, 1822 S. Halsted; $10. Call 733-4668 for tickets. Program to be repeated Friday and Saturday, May 28 and 29, at 8 at the Josephine Louis Theatre of Northwestern University, 1979 Sheridan in Evanston; $8-$10, $5 for students. Call 708-491-7282 for tickets.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Eileen Ryan.