04 December 2009

Melissa Thodos Dance Chicago

Victor and I went to see this company's Fall Concert last weekend. The program included a series of short dances originally choreographed by Bob Fosse, and set on the Thodos performers by Ann Reinking. We have always liked Thodos' company (since we first saw them at Dance Chicago in 2004, where they really stood out), but we're by no means regulars...it was the fanfare for the Fosse dances that pushed me to get the tickets. Fosse directed Cabaret and All That Jazz, two favorite films of mine, and Pippin, a Broadway musical I've never seen but the flashy TV commercial for it thrilled me when I was a kid, and I taught myself to play most of the songs on the piano.

In the event, the Fosse stuff turned out to be the least interesting, though the most hyped. Prefaced by a short video documentary featuring interviews with Reinking and the dancers, the dances were recreations of short pieces created for Gwen Verdon to perform on the Ed Sullivan show. In the video, Ann Reinking suggested that if you hadn't seen the Ed Sullivan show, "you have never seen this."

But we had. Fosse's choreography may have been cutting edge in the 50s and 60s, but by now we have seen it all before: female dancers in bowler hats, muscular midriffs showing, wearing denim and leather. The rolled shoulder, the wink, the shadowed face, the snap. These pieces, designed for television, were mostly shine.

Whereas the other dances in the evening's program (two hours long, with an intermission) were full of beautiful, intriguing, moving, and even thrilling moments. We would certainly still return to Thodos, but not because of resurrected Fosse numbers--the company's own creativity and excellence is reason enough.

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