Thodos Dance “Chicago Inspired” Gala Review – Reminding WHO –and WHAT—Brought You to the Dance


The buzzing Harris Theater was peppered with a small army of women in variants of the perfect little black dress that hinted at the Thodos Dance Chicago Gala to follow their “Chicago Inspired” performance. 



Some of these women were later dabbling at their tears during the intermission, hoping to keep their makeup intact. 



These were tears of nostalgia for Sybil Shearer (1912 – 2005), one of the Chicago choreographers honored in the performance and one who clearly made her mark on so many Chicagoans.



The film vignettes introducing the dances and the evening’s concept conveyed the deep sense of community that Thodos has built through the years. 



That community sense also infused the crowd on the second level during the intermission watching the Thodos Dance Chicago Youth Ensemble. 



It seemed more than moms and dads but also uncles and aunties cheering on the tween fledgling dancers.  We were all soccer moms rooting for them as they made their moves with charmingly clear telegraphing that remembering the choreography was developing their concentration even more than the moves were shaping their bodies. 



Most of the Thodos dancers are also choreographers. 



They are strikingly fresh faced and young.  How perfect that choreographer/dancer and Texas native Tenley Dorrill introduced her piece “Night Windows” , named for the namesake painting by Edward Hopper that conveys that sense of alienation upon arriving in the big bad city. 



The dance conveyed this feeling so well, and made us reflect on what drives these dancers to come to Chicago to make their mark in the dance world.    They clearly work hard at what they do and when you sit back and ponder this you too may soon ache with admiration.


Most of the pieces in this performance had a clear Chicago connection. 



The evening’s center was a tribute to two Chicago dance legends—aforementioned Sybil Shearer, whom we saw in historic archived footage dancing behind the Thodos dancers emulating her moves, and Bob Fosse, the master of sexy, sassy, playful moves that were the definition of dance to Broadway and TV audiences for years. 



In these tribute works and new works alike, Thodos dancers exuded their love of dance expression.  



If dance is not interesting to you unless you are seeing uber-athletes do impossible moves in esoteric choreography then Thodos is not your troupe.  This is simply dance that tells us a story or describes a mood with movement and poignancy beyond words.  It’s expressive and it reminds us why we love to watch dance.


Thodos Dance is continuing its 15th Anniverary celebration this summer with a “New Dances” performance on July 18 and 19 at the Athenaeum.   For tickets or information visit the Athenaeum website or call the Athenaeum box office 773 935 6875.




Photos:  Cheryl Mann



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