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

Mad Shak Dance Company 

Artistic director Molly Shanahan sometimes seems a mad scientist, testing the fiendish products of her imagination on the stage. For her new evening-length piece, The Waiting Room (and Everything After), she created four sections of 15 to 20 minutes each--a solo, a duet, a trio, and a quartet--three of which will be performed each night (except for the last, which will include all four) in a different order. The visual and aural backdrops will remain the same: a video Shanahan shot of the dancers plus other footage--the grid of a window screen, tulips in her yard--and Kevin O'Donnell's score, in which a piano is played the usual way as well as by striking various objects against its guts. Watching three of the sections I was struck by how Shanahan also experimented within each one. The trio begins as a duet, evolves into a threesome, and ends as a solo (the section also includes a chair, but I guess that doesn't count). The duet is a piece for two dancers so adamantly connected, either physically or by their movement, that they sometimes seem one being. And the quartet features four dancers throughout, but they're often isolated from one another, like eggs in a carton. But perhaps I wouldn't have thought of the duet and quartet in these terms if I hadn't watched the trio first. Indeed, the best way to see The Waiting Room (and Everything After) is to go to all eight performances and compare them. But any combination of the sections should be satisfying, since the human mind creates structure and unity given the slightest pretense. The piece will be performed a total of eight times at two locations over two weekends. First at Northwestern University, Marjorie Ward Marshall Dance Center, Ballroom Studio Theatre, 1979 South Campus Dr., Evanston, 773-743-8014. Opens Thursday, June 6, 8 PM. Through June 9: Friday-Sunday, 8 PM. $15. Then at Link's Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield, 773-743-8014. Opens Thursday, June 13, 8 PM. Through June 16: Friday-Sunday, 8 PM. $15.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/William Frederking.

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