Mordine & Company Dance Theatre | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Mordine & Company Dance Theatre 

Like its title, Haven't Heard From You, Shirley Mordine's new dance is deceptively casual. Set to unusually slow and expressive music by Mozart, it features five women often widely scattered in the deep Ruth Page Center space, which includes a second stage at the rear draped for this piece with ballooning sheets of fabric like droopy sails. The choreography juxtaposes extroversion and introversion; when two dancers echo each other's poses, one opens her chest and looks up while the other rounds her shoulders and looks down. For every run forward there's a run back. A dancer lifts one leg high--and her head dips almost to the floor. Mordine's use of the space enhances our sense of the distances between people--especially in one sequence when a dancer far downstage faces us, then looks over her shoulder at three others perched far behind her on the stage edge, where they dip to one side, then the other, like people riding waves. Close to the end three dancers go through a twitchy, desperately fast sequence totally out of sync with the legato score, creating a terrible sense of anxiety. Masterful in its simultaneous restraint and emotion, Haven't Heard From You is one of Mordine's finest recent works. Also new is a piece by Julia Rhoads, made under the auspices of the company's choreographic mentoring project. Her When Everything Else Stops evokes the moment when you stop moving, stop thinking, and are aware only of your own breath. The final section of a longer piece called Surrelium, set to music by Dave Pavkovic, it becomes faster and more lively as the dancers interact more. Also on the program are Mordine's Short Stories and Voci, the latter set to music by Tom Waits and poetry by Lawrence Ferlinghetti and performed by five dancers, two hip-hop artists, and an actor. Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn, 312-337-6543. Opens Thursday, April 3, 8 PM. Through April 6: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM; Sunday, 3 PM. $18.50-$20. Note: Members of the Youth Dance Company, part of the troupe's outreach effort, perform on Sunday's program.

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