Wilson Pico | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Wilson Pico


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I try to convince myself that videotape is a transparent medium, providing an accurate view of work I haven't seen before. But watching a six-minute tape of Ecuadoran modern dancer Wilson Pico made me realize, once again, that video has its own properties and moods; glaring lights and the ragged chiaroscuro of a tape dubbed over and over gave Pico the look of a silent-film star. Still, I can say that the 90-minute solo program he'll perform here, The Materials of Love and Rage, is highly dramatic, even melodramatic--the work of a true original. Trained in ballet in the late 60s, Pico decided in the early 70s that classical dance did not meet his expressive needs; he's been performing--in South America, North America, and Europe--ever since. In the excerpts on tape he often takes on a female persona; in one piece he wears a stretchy blue costume reminiscent of Martha Graham's in her solo Lamentation and wields a bowl, beating it on the floor, seeming to scatter seeds from it, and cradling his head in it. In another excerpt he wears a long skirt (a line of clothes appears to hang in the background, adding to the domestic stamp) and, lying on one side, bounces on his hip; later, lying on his back, he rocks from side to side like someone in anguish. Searching for clues about his work on the Internet, I came across a site that told me (in a spectacularly bad translation) that he addresses "the national-popular thing, the marginal thing, the daily thing, the ancestral magician, the urban thing, the shamanismo, and...aesthetic formal." The funny thing is, that description seems accurate. On this bill Pico (who performs to contemporary music--Philip Glass, a wailing horn solo) will be joined by local group Tribus Futuras, playing traditional Andean music. Vittum Theater, 1012 N. Noble, 312-431-1330. Wednesday, November 14, 7 PM. $20 ($15 for members of the International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago, the event's sponsor). Note: Pico and Tribus Futuras will give a one-hour version of the show as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival at Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan, 312-494-9509. Saturday, November 10, 3 PM. $5 ($6 at the door).

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