Smartdance | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Sometimes I feel like making a gigantic bonfire out of all the press releases and programs in which artists explain what their work is "about" or what they'd like to accomplish--they rarely say anything worth knowing, and often they're misleading, pretentious, or both. Fortunately for Maureen Janson, artistic director of Smartdance, her work really is smart: it has a visceral impact distinct from any meaning she or the audience tries to give it. A year ago this Madison-based company (Janson relocated from Chicago) surprised me with its ragged force, dark humor, and enigmatic but powerful sense of theater. Watching her 800th Lifetime, I had no idea what it had to do with Alvin Toffler or technology, influences cited in the press materials, but the emotion behind the piece was inescapable. Now the company returns with the "first draft" of a new suite, More Dances About Buildings, described as a "witty, comical, yet melancholic . . . epic dance" in which the five performers "share dreams, work, and relationships." Well, I guess that about covers it--this piece could be about anything or nothing at all. But judging by the intelligence of Janson's work last year, it should be interesting. Also on the program is a solo, Yellow Jacket, choreographed by former Bill T. Jones company member Janet Lilly and danced by Janson. Friday and Saturday at 8 PM, Link's Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield; $8. Call 763-8994 for tickets and information. --Laura Molzahn

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Peter Smith.

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