Same Planet Different World Dance Theatre | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Same Planet Different World Dance Theatre 

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A few years ago Jason Ohlberg, founding artistic director of this six-year-old troupe, left town, putting Anna Simone Levin in charge. Now she's taking a yearlong sabbatical to study choreography in Amsterdam, and the group is being headed by Jeffery Hancock (former artistic associate), Joanna Rosenthal, and Katherine Saifuku. Sometimes artistic turnovers aren't good, but Same Planet Different World has managed to maintain continuity and artistic quality. For one thing, they still have a relationship with Ohlberg, who's setting his Gloria on the troupe for this concert--a Chicago premiere. Performed to Vivaldi's Gloria, it has the same musicality and lightheartedness as Ohlberg's 1998 Kissing Concello, also set to Vivaldi--plus songs by female impersonator Pussy Tourette. Gloria sometimes seems to interpret religious ideas, but in the most cheerful way imaginable: in one section Hancock apparently plays God, touching each of a trio of women in a different way, causing her to collapse in some form of benign submission. When he comes to the third, he merely circles and regards her--and lifting his arms, drops her to the floor like a stone. Sometimes rougher and faster than Vivaldi's composition, the choreography can be agreeably unpredictable: at one point a man throws his partner high in the air, arm around her waist, and her legs fly out, feet flexed, as if she were a rag doll. It's also wonderfully musical, maintaining a conversational, contrapuntal relationship with the score. The three other works on the program are also premieres. Hancock's Veiled is inspired by the story of 280 women drowned by Ottoman sultan Ibrahim in the 17th century; Hancock says the piece "has characters but no real narrative." Saifuku created Translucent Image, a short work using music ranging from Steve Reich to Elvis Presley; and guest artist Colleen Halloran has choreographed a piece for the company. Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn, 773-506-8730. Through October 4: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM. $15-$20. Note: A company benefit on Saturday is $50 and includes the performance, food and drink, and a silent auction.

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