3×3 – Chicago Tribune review

By Lucia Mauro / Chicago Tribune
February 21, 2009

The Seldoms’ latest dance concert is a body-centric act of provocation from three perspectives.

Titled “3×3,” the winter engagement – running through Saturday at the Dance Center of Columbia College – features three premieres by a triumvirate of local movement researchers who appear to be testing the dancers’ bodies’ limitless responses to stimuli.

Interestingly, the most revelatory moments happen in those vague spaces between action and stillness.

Headed by choreographer Carrie Hanson, The Seldoms is a multimedia company that pulls together an array of musical and visual artists to create living art installations – often in unconventional locales such as warehouses and empty swimming pools.

But this performance has a more traditional post-modern feel. The studied nature of the works verges on the ponderous, yet the artists inject an edginess and humor capable of transcending self-involved explorations of the body’s possibilities.

Darrell Jones’ “Whiff of Anarchy,” contrary to its title, is a surprisingly tame examination of the physicality of riot behavior. Television monitors fuzzily suggest actual protests while the ensemble abstracts the threat of anarchy via queuing formations, stomping, loudly exhaling and lying supine.

In various parts, a few dancers observe the others as if representing outsiders hesitant to join the mob, or officials lining the perimeter to keep order. Of course, the suggestion of brewing violence can be scarier than the enactment of it. But here, audiences have to look very closely to find it. Jones could still raise the stakes and infuse “Whiff of Anarchy” with a more tangible sense of danger.

Choreographer Hanson’s duet, “Thrift,” with Paige Cunningham, is a reaction to the current economic crisis and an experimentation with streamlined, or economical, movement. Set against the sounds of counting money and a remarkably entrancing lecture by Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman on the financial meltdown, the piece is winkingly restrained. Hanson, a taut introspective dancer, pairs with Cunningham’s lean lyricism to mesmerizing effect. Their individual solos include dangling arms and a striking of body parts that recalls the domino-like innards of a mechanical clock. They eventually strip the stage bare – and subtly ask if purging oneself of unnecessary things is such a terrible thing.

Also new is Liz Burritt’s “Triggers,” a deconstructed theatricalization of familial button pushing – with a table as its central prop – that totters on the brink of cliched obscurity, save for honest performances by Cara Sabin and Christina Gonzalez-Gillett.