Theater, Dance, Comedy and Performance in Chicago

Preview: Underland/Stephen Petronio Company at the Dance Center of Columbia College

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Stephen Petronio CompanyRECOMMENDED

Stephen Petronio’s subterranean revel begins with a cinematic prologue: a descent into the underworld, intercut with black-and-white video of crumbling buildings and other signs of apocalypse. The title of the piece then scrawls through the darkness like a child writing their name with a sparkler. Petronio is an abstract choreographer, but his ode to the music of Nick Cave can’t resist tweaking directly a few of the deliciously dark archetypes Cave favors (including a macabre ballet in tutus and garters that evokes images of the carnival freakshow, the Southwest saloon and the demented toyshop). Three screens on the backdrop are used to great success with video that ranges from atmospheric to rhythmic to narrative. Petronio’s choreography responds in kind to the menace, sexiness and lushness of the score in an hour that travels from the hot depths of the pit into a cool, redemptive light. (Sharon Hoyer)

At the Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 South Michigan (312)369-8330. Thursday-Saturday, March 7-9 at 8pm. $26-$30.

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