The quicksilver moves of Stephen Petronio's choreography inevitably call to mind transformation--magical changes too quick for the eye. But in the 1995 Lareigne, made for the tenth anniversary of his New York-based company, Petronio occasionally slows those mercurial motions almost to a standstill. In the first section, a solo set to the rock song "No More Heroes," the dancer both resembles and distorts the upright, misguided, and doomed heroes of story ballets: he goes through the classical motions, but he also veers off-course, staggers, and wilts when he should strain for heaven. The second and final section, for three women and three men, likewise begins with classical-looking movement but evolves into something much odder and more kinetic. Petronio is apparently messing with gender issues too: the playful title is said to mean "the reign of the queen." And the costumes both preserve and undermine the gender stereotypes of ballet: the men wear corsets laced up the belly, emphasizing their legs and asses, and filmy shirts with floating ragtag tails like torn butterfly wings. Since the women's filmy baby-doll dresses emphasize their bosoms and legs there's no mistaking who's what, though in typical postmodern fashion the choreography is unisex. Together the powerful, passionate dancers of Lareigne seem to redefine the romantic hero, commenting on the evolution of dance and of male cultural icons. Petronio, whose company hasn't been seen in Chicago since they performed at MoMing in 1989, offers two other recent pieces: Middlesex Gorge is said to be angry and provocative, and Drawn That Way purportedly embraces the audience. I hope it's last on the program, though in any case I think I'll go home happy. Next Thursday through Saturday, December 5-7, at 8 at the Dance Center of Columbia College, 4730 N. Sheridan; $14-$16. Call 773-989-3310 for tickets and information.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Beatrix Schiller.