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Margi Cole's balancing act

Perhaps the title of her post-modern dance company’s winter concert, Balancing Act, unconsciously reflects Margi Cole’s tight-rope-wire-like adaptability as an experimental dance artist in Chicago. Her female-heavy ensemble, The Dance COLEctive, celebrates its 15th anniversary with a performance of all premieres Jan. 20-22 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts. Cole – a dancer, choreographer and educator – frequently champions emerging dance makers and encourages collaborations. She admits that choosing the less commercial – but no less satisfying – arena of post-modern dance (especially in an uncertain economy) requires artists to “constantly reinvent” themselves.

From a choreographic standpoint, Cole revels in the chameleonic. She’s continuing her creative partnership with theatrically inclined choreographer Jeff Hancock via a multimedia investigation into how we tend to sabotage our own relationships. (Previously, the Cole-Hancock IMe astutely addressed identities forged in social media). With Maggie Estep’s poem, Emotional Idiot, as a jumping off point, the movement mirrors a certain shoving away at the same time it feels clingy. Motifs of wine and chocolate, together with spoken text, coalesce into a tantalizing secret agent approach to self-destructive tendencies as the dancers sneak around trying to ensnare their partners. Listen for an iconic tip-toe-instigating theme song written by Henry Mancini snaking its way around the conspiratorial characters.

Cole also experiments with Malcolm Gladwell’s theory in his book, Blink, about “the power of thinking without really thinking.” As part of the process, she had her dancers get in touch with their instincts by telling them to create short duets as if they were on a speed date. Also on the bill is Liz Burritt’s I, a visual meditation on failure and being failed. Overall, the program explores how humans in general navigate their own shortcomings and unconscious abilities.

The Dance COLEctive performs Jan. 20-22 at 8 p.m. at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St. Tickets: $18-22. Call 773-604-8452 or visit www.dancecolective.com.

Also playing…

Corpo Dance Company delivers an encore presentation of artistic director Christopher M. McCray’s recently well-received Coppelius, a post-modern steam punk interpretation of the classic ballet, Coppelia, with a focus on the idealistic doll maker. Performances take place Jan. 21 and 22 at 8 p.m. at Links Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield. Tickets: $12-$20. Call 773-281-0824 or visit www.LinksHall.org. More info: www.corpodancecompany.com.

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