The Inconvenience: “Standing Room Only” | Live review + photos

It must be nice to be a fucking hippie who never has to be anywhere on time.

I gleaned no new appreciation of environmentally sustainable living from jumping off of a bus to run ten blocks down Belmont to get to the Viaduct Theater last night. Also awesome, last night’s Critical Mass ride shut a window of time I had left open for eating dinner.

But this inconvenience and my angry stomach didn’t dampen the appeal of “Standing Room Only,” produced by local interdisciplinary art group [node:93511 link=the Inconvenience;]. The lean, 40-minute show developed by dancer-choreographer Erin Kilmurray and composer-musician John Cicora is the kind of shared experience that actually does add substance to one’s life.

Six pieces by six young, female choreographers, with original scores composed collaboratively by Cicora, alternate with six covers of songs or short snatches from them by Aphex Twin, Chopin, Duke Ellington, David Bowie, Jefferson Airplane and the Velvet Underground and Nico. The dances are performed among the audience and on small stages dressed with parachutes, hung like spiderwebs. (In search of curtains for a prior performance project, Inconvenience members found it convenient that a neighbor Lincoln Avenue was an Army and Navy surplus store.)

Jessica Miller Tomlinson’s Coalesce is an athletic, then intimate duet for Brian Hare and Brandon DiCriscio Thodos Dance Chicago and Luna Negra Dance Theater, respectively for which she sought music that touched both classical and funk. Cicora complied in one of the evening’s cooler compositions, a two-part piece that at times suggests Rhapsody in Blue. The piece begins and ends with with the men choking their wrists with their other hands, pulsing their free fingers as if to show the blood pumping through them.

Like Irene cutting her path up the Eastern seaboard, Jessie Young’s quintet Lie Long splits the crowd in two as it travels diagonally through the Viaduct’s main space and out through its entrance. In contrast, in Ballyhoo Ball, Amanda Timm slips in and out of her quartet holding a hefty hunk of white chalk, which she uses to mark spots to which her dancers—wearing severe, blunt-cut black wigs—and their partners, selected from the audience, are assigned. Timm later draws a rectangle on the floor in front of the band, and viewers are pulled into this arbitrary boundary until it’s full. I was one; we danced.

Anna Normann’s Snared., a duet for dancer Ginny Cook and drummer Tyler Berg (who mostly uses his kit’s snare and a brush), gets an uplit, black-brick backdrop. Its aural and visual simplicity is a nice palate-cleanser. Kilmurray’s duet, called Bass Kick and made with its performers, Katie Graves and Nebi Berhane, begins in the room’s center and, as it progresses, demands an increasing amount of space. It’s a sharper dance in which short stillnesses punctuate the flow like cymbal hits.

The Dance COLEctive’s Maggie Koller’s septet Resound closes out the evening; it opens with drum-machine breakbeats and ends in a dance party for everyone. (Cicora says it was his first foray into electronic music; Sean and Pat Cassin were his musical collaborators.)

The choreographies don’t generally go too far past building and then exploring a single mood, but these moods feel specific and rooted in personal experience. Ballyhoo Ball, Bass Kick, Lie Long and Resound don’t announce how much room they need, nor where they are headed, they only plow ahead and trust that the audience will accommodate.

If only Critical Mass was also about learning how to share space, rather than perpetuating the tradition of fighting over it.

The final performance of “Standing Room Only” is tonight, August 27, at 8pm at the Viaduct Theater. Following the show, the Inconvenience presents Get Up Off That Thang, a concert and party with Blackbelts, the Chicago Stone Lightning Band and special guests. Ages 21 and up; $5 before 10pm, $7 after, free with admission to “Standing Room Only.”

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)