• Angela Allyn

Exquisite Surrealism

Updated: Nov 8



Ellyzabeth Adler’s wide ranging company Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble is celebrating 20 years which is quite an accomplishment in the Chicago dance world, and the party includes a retrospective which, lucky for us, serves up her 2006 work This is Not A Pipe, now on view at the CDE home in the Ebenezer Lutheran Church on Chicago’s north side.


The reworked piece brings Magritte’s visual vocabulary to life and focuses on Sigmund Freud’s influence on the Surrealists (an influence that confounded Freud). The aspect of Freud’s theories of most interest to the artists who developed the style was the idea of subconsciousness and the meanings of dreams. Freud, here played by Jenise Sheppard, pontificates on various ideas as the dancers, all but one in suits and bowler hats with umbrellas, move through the space in solos, duos and beautiful ensemble sequences. The egg and the green apple also are featured, as well as an art show at the entry to the performance space where students and artists have responded to the ideas put forth by the piece. In the second half of the program the suits are gone and women appear in a modern reinterpretation of corsets and bloomers and Victorian undergarments and Freud is wearing a red dress.


Freud’s ideas are now considered somewhat patriarchal misogyny, determining women are somehow inferior to men, so this female identifying second act becomes a rebuttal. There are also concepts about identity formation being bandied and danced about here. In the highly arched space of the Ebenezer Church auditorium, the ideas and images can soar and swoop.


This is delicious dancing done by fascinating humans overlaid with ideas that need examining. It’s the kind of work that demands multiple viewings. And this is an ensemble that shimmers with humanity. This is Not a Pipe, but it is an evening of dance to see and ruminate upon.


Hurry if you want to see this: This is Not a Pipe only plays Fridays and Saturdays until November 19th at the Ebenzer Lutheran Church, 1650 Foster Avenue. For tickets and information go to www.danztheatre.org



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