Breakbone DanceCo. | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Breakbone DanceCo. 

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"I'm a sucker for romantic stuff--dark romantic," says Breakbone DanceCo. artistic director Atalee Judy. You can tell. Her new 75-minute piece, One, is set in a castle and features maidens in bloodred corset tops and long skirts. What's fascinating is not the melodramatic conceit, however, but Judy's invention: she carves up the cavernous second floor of the Hamlin Park field house, giving each solo or duet its own space, and uses video projections to set the scenes and augment the points she wants to make. In the videos, doors open and close on private chambers to reveal various pathologies: masochism, onanism, jealousy, suicide. The mathematical titles of the six sections succinctly indicate the relation of the room's inhabitant to herself or others: "1 - 1," "1 X 1," "1 + 1." The projected images are often gorgeous and upsetting at once: a woman drifting with rose petals in a bathtub full of water, a woman nestled against and caressing a cello, a man ripping down pictures of himself and furiously tearing them up. The final video section has a different character, showing various couples naked, embracing in warm, womblike cocoons, legs wrapped around each other. The message--that we're all alike in our wish for love yet all unique--borders on sentimentality, but Judy undercuts the schmaltz with the ensemble dance segment accompanying the video, which pairs the dancers in movement that's far from pretty. Shoulders might be hunched and heads held down, stamping jumps with both feet recall a toddler's temper tantrum, ballon is seen not in a leap but in a horizontal flinging of the body across the floor. Here the performers are as likely to be summarily dropped as held tenderly. Ultimately the images of ruins are highly evocative and ambiguous: we need our fortresses, and we also need to have them demolished. Hamlin Park field house, second floor, 3035 N. Hoyne, 773-588-4582. Opens Thursday, February 20, 8 PM. Through February 21: Friday, 8 PM. $12.

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