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Photograph: Julie MayoJessie Young, left, and Samantha Allen in Man in the City by Julie Mayo

“The Wrecking Project” | Preview

This weekend at Links Hall, no choreography is safe.


In a corner of Wicker Park loft studio OuterSpace, dancer Isabelle Collazo, 23, faces the wall and jumps dozens of times with her arms up, as if she’s a volleyball player practicing her set. Just a few inches away, facing the adjacent wall, Cara Newman, 23, does the same thing. About 11 minutes later, sweating and breathing heavily, they walk slowly toward and then past me, completing the dance called People Power by Chicago choreographer Hope Goldman.

Collazo quickly changes out of cutoff shorts over print leggings, brown flat boots and a simple top into the black dress with rhinestone trim she wore to Riverside’s Brookfield High School prom in 2007. Newman doffs a similarly utilitarian outfit and dons the powder-blue gown she wore to her prom as a Glenbard East senior in Lombard the same year. Both women sit to buckle their black heels, the kind worn for Spanish folk dance.

Unusually for a dance rehearsal, choreographer Goldman isn’t around. That’s because this rehearsal is for Lady Power by Kate Corby, 33, Corby’s “wreck” of People Power. Thursday 12 through Saturday 14, you can see nine such pairs of dances, three per night, collected for a mini fest called “The Wrecking Project.” The participants in each bill will show an original work and see it remixed by one of the other two choreographers in the same group. “We wanted to involve as many artists as possible,” Julie Mayo, 43, says by phone from Brooklyn. Mayo and Corby coproduce the show; Thursday’s lineup features New York artists, Friday’s trio is Chicago-centric, and Saturday’s group hails from San Francisco, NYC and Columbus, Ohio.

Lady Power begins like People Power ends and plays backward as if being rewound (“retrograde” in dance talk). In the middle of both works is a section where Collazo and Newman run laps around the perimeter of the room, taking turns in the lead. In People Power, the dancer being passed crashes to the floor and rolls on her back, helped back onto her feet by her partner. The heels Corby makes the dancers wear in her version offer far less traction than do the flat boots; evening gowns hiked up in their hands, they run gingerly, still slipping and falling, and recover on their own. In Corby’s version, they end in the corner where Goldman’s begins but, instead of jumping energetically, melt together toward the floor in a sad, torpid heap.

After rehearsal over tea at the Wormhole, Corby admits she’s “a little worried” about Goldman seeing her work, inspired in part by the Occupy movement, wrecked into a critique of antiproductive competition between women. “She could say, ‘Oh, my God, that’s so offensive!’ But I think she’ll understand.” As part of an intensive, three-day creative process for Lady Power, Corby, who lives in Madison, Wisconsin, asked Collazo and Newman how they felt about their bodies now versus when they were in high school.

Chicago choreographer Paige Caldarella will wreck Less, a solo Corby made for dancer Michelle Scurlock. Because the two dance makers crossed paths at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I ask Corby how she expects Caldarella will modify it.

“I think Paige will identify my movement vocabulary and finesse it, run some themes and variations on what’s already there. Play with structure. But I have no idea.”

Dances by Corby, Cunningham, Goldman, Mayo and five others get wrecked at Links Hall Thursday 12 through Saturday 14.

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