Rookies and old hands converge on a level playing field during Thodos Dance Chicago's annual company showcase, "New Dances." In one of this year's ten premieres, new Thodos performer Kyle Hadenfeldt skillfully treats an age-old subject—finding oneself—in his elegant, spare Familiar Faces. Music editor John Nevin layers the sounds of a thunderstorm over two stirring pieces of music as six dancers aggregate and separate in cascading formations that suggest isolation, support, and betrayal. Few moves are literal yet emotion builds, and Brittany Hassler's punky, cobwebbed costumes—riddled with burned holes—perfectly capture the sense of loss.
At the other end of the spectrum, eight-year Thodos veteran Jessica Miller Tomlinson's experience shows in her quirky subjects and treatments. Though her quintet Entwined Winds is inspired by Zen gardens, don't expect contemplation. The first half of Kevin Keller's score is itchy and agitated, the second pulsing and suspenseful, and Tomlinson turns her dancers every which way: upends them, suspends them, traps them in a swirling clump. Guest artist Ahmad Simmons contributes a piece, while the other Thodos choreographers are Cara Carper and Brian Hare, John Cartwright, Caitlin Cucchiara and Diana Robertson, Annie Deutz, Ray Doñes and Jon Sloven, Joshua Manculich, Alissa Tollefson, and Carrie Patterson.