Mordine & Company Diversify

Mordine & Company dancers. Photo by Cheryl Mann.

“I think of the audience as the other part of the art form. Without you, there is no art form,” Shirley Mordine said before her company’s shared program at Stage 773 Friday evening. Mordine & Co. took the stage along with flamenco group Clinard Dance Theatre┬áin an interesting mix of dance diversity. Mordine said the idea came from attending Dance/USA conferences and noticing how another host city (San Francisco) showed a more diverse section of their city’s companies than Chicago did the year we hosted. Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre shares the bill for Saturday and Sunday performances.

Mordine’s 2011 Life Speak about the art of storytelling got a revamp with a larger, vibrant cast. The original cast had seasoned dancers that were earthy and grounded in the work. The 2013 cast, which bumped up from six to eight dancers, boasted a younger cast with solid technique that made interesting choices to make the work their own. The stage sounded like sandpaper (a dancer who had performed their previously said it was painted wood, no marley) adding an extra audible texture to the work.

Clinard’s From the Arctic to the Middle East (Broken Narratives by an American Flamenco Dancer) was a blend of traditional flamenco with contemporary flavor, plus live musicians, a singer and a voice over telling a poem or story. The dancing and the live accompaniment were at the top of their game, but drowned out the voice over, so it was difficult to tell what the story was about. The three women seemed to represent different emotions (angry, sad, lost?) in different stages of life. A swaying hug between two dancers seemed maternal and comforting only to have one break away and spin out of control. Wendy Clinard showed amazingly fast footwork in a brilliant solo.

After a brief intermission, Mordine & Co. took the stage for the premiere of All At Once/Acts Of Renewal. Press materials state the new work is about “…the ability and need to process a deluge of information in the digital age”. Dressed in white with the women wearing bright colored leotards underneath, the costumes might have represented white noise or the sense that with so much information coming at you, you really can’t hear it at all. A slow-motion sequence perhaps suggests we all need to slow down. The short piece needs to flesh out more of the themes in the movement for better clarity and unity. It felt more like a work-in-progress than a premiere.

Final show of Mordine & Co. with Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre is this afternoon at 3 p.m. Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont. 773.327.5252.

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