Mad Shak Dance Company | Dance Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Mad Shak Dance Company 

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Almost two years ago choreographer Molly Shanahan and composer Kevin O'Donnell premiered The Wanton Seed, an evening-length work based on Anthony Burgess's 1962 novel The Wanting Seed, at Northwestern University's tiny Marjorie Ward Marshall theater. Now they're performing the piece in the Dance Center's cavernous black box, which actually has wings and an elaborate lighting system. And they've changed the work somewhat: O'Donnell has written a new folk song that sounds like an old one ("Follow the river... / This book will not burn / That ship won't sink / Mr. Preacher I know why you drink, drink, drink"), and Shanahan has revised the conclusions of the first and second halves--the first features a phalanx of seven dancers pounding and sweeping across the floor, the second a quiet rendition of O'Donnell's song. Both contrast meditative and vigorous movement. But what remain constant are the elements that distinguished The Wanton Seed in the first place: compelling, sometimes folk-dancey choreography performed urgently, an innovative score blending original and traditional music, and Burgess's futuristic story, about a love triangle in an overpopulated society that discourages heterosexual love and prohibits bearing more than one child. Trying to recapitulate a verbal enterprise in the nonverbal terms of music and dance is an ambitious undertaking, but Shanahan calls this an abstract piece that neither relies on nor denies the novel but is intended to reflect its "human and antihuman" aspects. Thursday, November 5, through next Saturday, November 7, at 8 at the Dance Center of Columbia College, 4730 N. Sheridan; $16-$20. Call 773-989-3310 for tickets and information. --Laura Molzahn

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Kirsten Sorton.

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