Throwing down in Gotham City 

Chicago Dance Crash does urban warfare

The Dark Knight relevés

The Dark Knight relevés

John W. Sisson Jr.

Everybody throws down in Chicago Dance Crash's new Gotham City, but nobody gets hurt. In what may be the perfect riff on DC Comics' dark metropolis, all of the battles are danced—by hookers, thieves, gangbangers, a grinning Rahm-esque villain, a corrupt FBI squad, and a bickering tourist couple. A jaw-dropping cast of about 30 actualizes choreographer Jessica Deahr's virtuosic mix of hip-hop, capoeira, acrobatic, and contemporary dance moves in this exercise in perpetual motion performed up close and personal in the round.

The overstuffed plot has a few excrescences and loose ends, and though there's no dialogue—not even speech bubbles—velvet-voiced announcements of possible disaster are overamplified and often impossible to make out. Yet even the show's writer, Mark Hackman, gets in on the dancing, back-flipping as the head of one crew. And his plot twist toward the end is genius, foregrounding the show's implicit comparisons with our fair city. Mary Tarpley and Charlie Cutler ace difficult choreography as the newlywed tourists, Brian Humpherys is delectably creepy as the chief villain, and Paul Christiano takes his clown character exhilaratingly over the top.

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