Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak 

The rounded shapes and rolling motions of Molly Shanahan's new solo piece, My Name Is a Blackbird, remind me of Merce Cunningham--though they bear no resemblance to his spiky, tense forms. Both choreographers create a dreamy, trancelike state, allowing the viewer to zone in and out of the performance, switching between focused perception and meditation. Shanahan's hour-long piece is improvised, and she allows the parade of thoughts, feelings--whatever it is that informs her dancing--to cross her face, opening herself up completely to the process. She invites you to look at her yet is so vulnerable you feel you should look away. By dropping the usual performative mask--a mask that annihilates emotion or acts it out--Shanahan makes you uncomfortably aware of your own acting in everyday life. As focused as a martial artist but seemingly as unself-conscious as a baby, she proves the power of the body to guide and communicate. With original music by Mark Booth, David Pavkovic, and Andrew Bird. a Through 4/29: Thu-Sun 8 PM, Building Stage, 412 N. Carpenter, 773-743-8014, $15.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Sandbox Studio Chicago.

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