Rosas | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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There's no meaning--no story line, no social commentary, no subject at all--to Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker's hour-long piece Drumming, set to Steve Reich's 1971 composition of the same name. But the 12 dancers of her Brussels-based troupe, Rosas, transform De Keersmaeker's abstract movement into a musical and emotional revelation. Seemingly engaged in the deadly serious play of children on a playground or of dancers in a class that's going particularly well, the performers carry out their tasks with an air of intense but joyous concentration, their occasional intersections seeming almost accidental. Yet over time the performers take on personalities, and their interactions convey obscure but strong emotions. In the same way the dance subtly evolves: the light brightens, the movement slows, the music softens. Where pretty pictures are the point in many dance concerts, here the shapes are less important than such musical elements as attack, momentum, tempo, and rhythm. And though the choreography is obviously formally precise, the movement looks abandoned and wild--heads, arms, legs, and hair fly. Yet the dancers' phrases always have the physical logic of a chain reaction: a knee flung up hits an arm, which soars over the face as the head is thrown back. De Keersmaeker--who won a Bessie last month in New York--has created a sort of perpetual-motion machine, a miracle of sustained energy and feeling. Tuesday and Wednesday at 8 in the theater of the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago; $22-$24, $20 for MCA members. Call 312-397-4010 for tickets and information. --Laura Molzahn

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