Eiko & Koma | Dance Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Eiko & Koma 

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It's difficult to describe what this iconic husband-and-wife team, natives of Japan but based in New York for almost 30 years, actually does onstage. Eiko comes close, however, in her online description of their "Delicious Movement" workshops: "Our class looks like a bunch of amoebas or maggots moving dreamingly and urgently. . . . Our intention is to counteract conventional education by bringing back the spontaneity and 'active passivity' of sleep into our waking hours." With their own works--often presented outdoors--the aim is to have people "feel something, without the need to define it right away." One of the three pieces they're bringing here is 1984's Night Tide, performed in August under the title Mourning and described by Anna Kisselgoff in the New York Times as "intensely moving." Nude but painted chalky white, the two attempt to make contact before "collapsing into resignation, perhaps death," Kisselgoff wrote. God knows there's plenty of reason to mourn these days, but Eiko & Koma's work is never what you'd call tragic--it's too detached for that. It is serious. "Throughout . . . history, to live has been to see others die and to anticipate our own death close by," Eiko writes. "We should not mask every pain as though it were a blemish to be disguised or swept quickly away." Also on the program are a brand-new work cocommissioned by the Dance Center of Columbia College--Moonlight, performed in front of a painted backdrop by Koma--and Duet, first performed this summer. Opens Thu 11/18, 8 PM. Through 11/20: Fri-Sat, 8 PM, Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 S. Michigan, 312-344-8300, $20-$24. Dance Center chair Bonnie Brooks offers a free talk for ticket holders at 7 PM on Friday; Eiko and local butoh artists engage in a free roundtable, "Cultural Collisions in Dance: East Meets West," Saturday at noon at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington; and Eiko offers a master class Saturday at 1:30 PM in the same place; $15, preregistration required at 312-344-8300.

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