Margaret Morris Dance | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Margaret Morris Dance 

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Margaret Morris's Laying of Hands has the passion of youth and at least some of the wisdom of age. In this accomplished hour-long dance for five, she aims to look at healing, but her starting point is violence. Morris, a 2005 Columbia College grad who received a Chicago Dancemakers Forum grant to create the piece, isn't afraid to use straightforward movement--and it's shocking early on when one dancer starts slapping another all over her body, not hard but fast, like swift cracks of a whip. Later the dancers' vocalizing enhances the work's gut impact, as a dancer repeats please and then stop or seems to talk in her sleep, whimpering and shouting wordlessly, eyes closed. Subtle choreographic details create shifts in emotional meaning: an arm extended and palm raised, wrist flexed, as if to say no, gradually rotates to face upward, as if pleading. Later the dancers turn a curved-up palm sideways--like letting sand run out, a gesture of release. Set to a score created by Lloyd Broadnax King from recordings of the dancers' vocalizations and snippets of gospel music, Laying of Hands ends with a muscular attempt at comfort that suggests Jacob wrestling with the angel. a Through 7/15: Fri-Sun 8 PM, Galaxie, 2603 W. Barry, 773-321-2006 or margaretmorrisdance.com, $15. --Laura Molzahn

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

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