Thodos Dance Chicago Review - Fall Concert 2009 is Breathtaking

Thodos, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts and the Fosse Trilogy were just the right combination to propel me to see the Thodos Dance Chicago Fall Concert 2009. The company’s premiere of Fosse Trilogy set by legendary Broadway and film veteran Ann Reinking, in the first of two performances was the literal “centerpiece” of this production. If you missed this, be sure to catch the second performance on Saturday, November 28 at Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Chicago.

"Cool Hand Luke" from the "Fosse Trilogy"

Reinking collaborated with Thodos Dance Chicago to reconstruct a trio of short dances by the legendary Bob Fosse - Cool Hand Luke, Mexican Breakfast, and Tijuana Shuffle – two of which have never been performed on the live stage. Founder and artistic director Melissa Thodos said, “We are so honored to welcome Ann Reinking back for her third engagement with Thodos Dance Chicago to set these important works.”

This powerful program included; the Chicago premiere of Melissa Thodos’ Driven, premieres of three dances from T hodos Dance Chicago’s acclaimed New Dances 2009 choreography performance series - Awakening, set to the music of Philip Glass, by Wade Schaaf ; Architecture: Splintered and Cracked, by award winning choreographer Jessica Miller Tomlinson; and Reflect, a collaborative work by Mollie Mock and Jeremy Blair, set to an original score by TDC’s resident composer John Nevin.
The concert also featured reprises of audience favorites: Nine by Brock Clawson, and Departurepoint by Ron De Jesús.

"Nine", choreographed by Brock Clawson

A friend of mine shared her ideas about the performance with me.  Living in Chicago for most of her life, she couldn’t believe she had never heard of  Thodos Dance Chicago before this fall concert but she will watch for them in the future. My friend and I enjoyed Nine.  I liked the music and lighting and thought it had echoes of Najinsky's Rite of Spring.

Departurepoint was very enthusiastically received by the audience, my friend and my seatmate.  The number which was unusual, featuring five men whose movements resonated with one another, mist, powerful music and lighting, and the feeling of creatures arising from a swamp. 

I found Reflect  captivating as did my friend. In this, there was a feeling of being on an Island, colorful costumes that caught attention, a strong rhythmic beat in the music,  and an earthy quality, all of which created a pleasing experience.  

In a program that was for the most part intense and rather serious, it was a delight to experience the Bob Fosse Trilogy. An introductory video featuring Ann Reinking was a change of pace and greatly enhanced the enjoyment of the Fosse Triloogy.  The Trilogy was totally charming and delightful, light, airy and refreshing.   How wonderful that Ann Reinking and Melissa Thodos fulfilled one of their missions in bringing this to the stage.

"Departurepoint", choreographed by Ron De Jesus

All of the numbers were impressive in their energy and the skill and energy of the dancers.  The lighting and music enhanced the otherwise bare, unembellished stage throughout. The athletic skills of all of the dancers were amazing and I just can’t imagine the endurance required for the successful execution of a performance of this kind.  It was “breathtaking”, indeed.

“Breathtakingly athletic,” “fiercely complex,” “powerfully beautiful,” performing “vibrant choreography” are some descriptions of Thodos Dance Chicago (TDC). Over the past 17 years this ensemble of well-rounded artists who teach, choreograph and perform continue to bring contemporary dance to a wider audience with an appealing unique style that incorporates a variety of dance forms created and performed with innovative flair. TDC was founded in 1992 as “Melissa Thodos and Dancers” by Melissa Thodos, an Evanston native and officially became known as Thodos Dance Chicago in 2005, reflecting a move toward a broader American repertory which influenced the premiere of the Fosse Trilogy.  TDC’s mission of inspiring expression through dance education, dance creation, and dance performance creates a unique, compelling environment for its ensemble members. TDC is in residence at the Menomonee Club for Boys and Girls where it administers the children’s dance curriculum and teaches adult classes through partnership with the Chicago Sport and Social Club.

Melissa Thodos, Founder and Artistic Director, Thodos Dance Chicago

Founder and Artistic Director, Melissa Thodos has been choreographing dance for over 25 years. Her works have been presented across America, as well as in Paris on numerous occasions, Edinburgh, and in Australia and Turkey. She is the founder and artistic director of Thodos Dance Chicago (TDC), a seventeen-year old contemporary dance company with a unique three-tiered mission of inspiring expression through dance education, dance creation and dance performance. TDC performs Melissa’s dances and those of Company members, as well as works by such acclaimed choreographers as Tony Award-winning Ann Reinking, Lar Lubovitch, Shapiro & Smith, Ron De Jesus, and Amy Ernst.

Ann Reinking, Broadway and film veteran

Ann Reinking is a Broadway and film veteran who won a Tony Award for best Choreography for the Broadway revival of the Bob Fosse musical Chicago in 1997. She has been nominated as Best Actress (Goodtime Charley, 1975), Best Featured Actress (Dancin’, 1978) and Best Director (Fosse, 1999).  Her work on Chicago has also honored her with the 1996 L.A. Drama Critic's Award, the 1997 Drama Desk Award and Outer Critic's Circle Award, as well as the Astaire Award.  

Bob Fosse (from Google images)

Bob Fosse was born in Chicago in June 23, 1927. His visionary choreography changed the course of Broadway dance with his provocative, sexy vocabulary. Following a notable career as a dancer, Mr. Fosse went on to win an Academy Award in 1973 for directing the movie Cabaret (which also won a best actress Oscar for Liza Minnelli), three Emmy awards for directing, producing and choreographing Minelli's TV special Liza With a Z, and two Tony Awards for directing and choreographing the Broadway show Pippin. Fosse's other hit Broadway shows include Sweet Charity (1965), Chicago (1975) and Dancin' (1978). Fosse’s life is capsulated in the semi-autobiographical movie All That Jazz (1979). A 1998 revue, Fosse, collected his most famous dance works into one show for which Ann Reinking won a Tony nomination as Best Director. Fosse died in 1987 during the run of a revival of his 1965 show Sweet Charity.

Be sure to see Thodos Dance Chicago when it will reprise its Fall Concert Saturday, November 28 at 8 pm at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 East Randolph Drive, Chicago - marking the company’s solo debut in downtown Chicago’s premiere dance venue. Tickets are $60; $45 for seniors; $25 for students.  Purchase tickets via phone at 312-334-7777, or online at

This project has been made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts as part of American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius.  Additional funding to support the project to re-stage the works of choreographer Bob Fosse has been made available through a generous grant from  The Saints, Volunteers for the Performing Arts.

Photos: Cheryl Mann

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