The Seldoms | Dance Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The Seldoms

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The original Seldoms were a 19th-century music hall troupe specializing in living tableaux: re-creations of grand historical and mythological scenes. The current Seldoms—Carrie Hanson, Susan Hoffman, and Doug Stapleton—took the name because, well, they liked it. But now they've come up with a piece honoring their predecessors, standing on pedestals to impersonate statuary in Ode. Believe me, it's a lot more fun to watch than it sounds, in part because of Lara Miller's inventive costumes: gauzy, formfitting affairs on top and heavy fantasias in fabric on the bottom (one dancer compared their lower halves to pasta salad) that ground the dancers both physically and visually. Ode's tone is odd—somewhere between reverential and ironic—but I took the work to be a playful metaphor for collaboration. In a more serious vein is Hanson's spare 2002 Casualty, a piece for five about the effects of war on women. Her choreography is simultaneously elegant and unpredictable: dancers lying on their sides, topmost legs delicately propped behind them, spasmodically rotate in a surprising and surprisingly moving way. Also on the program is Hoffman's 2002 Time/Fragments/Remains, detailing the loss of memory in a trio, duet, and solo. The concert's guest artist is Jin-Wen Yu, formerly a member of Taiwan's Cloud Gate Dance Theater and now head of the dance department at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Described as a masterful artist by Reader critic Terry Brennan when his company performed in Chicago in 1999, Yu both dances and offers his choreography here. I was able to see one of his three works on the program, Duet #1, a percolating piece whose exchanges of energy give the impression of a perpetual-motion machine. Merry and fluid, it showcases the talents of performers up to its demands—and the dancers in this show are fabulous (among them Mei-Kuang Chen, who won a Chicago Dance Award this year). Vittum Theater, 1012 N. Noble, 312-328-0303. Opens Thursday, September 18, 8 PM. Through September 20: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM. $10-$15. Note: A company benefit on Saturday, which includes preperformance and postperformance parties, is $50, $30 for artists.

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