Dance Review by Rebecca Curl,
RUFF CELTS: By Marguerite Donlon
Visceral Dance Chicago. 2016
Marguerite Donlon (who has worked with major dance, theater and opera companies throughout Europe and beyond, as well as with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago), has given Visceral a tremendous gift with “Ruff Celts,” a work that should entice some savvy Broadway producer to snap her up to work on a big musical. She is a wizard with a fierce sense of humor and invention.
Set to an exuberantly rhythmic mix of Irish folk music, Gaelic speech and the contemporary electronica sounds of others (including her late husband, Claas Willeke) – with some spectacular silhouetted lighting by Nathan Tomlinson, and costumes by Donlon – the full-company work might best be described as “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” meets a latter-day “Brigadoon.” Puffs of smoke erupt like magic dusk as alternately strange and playful rituals are observed, and athletic men (in black kilts) compete and cavort with their equally feisty women. A bit of primal break-dance and a moonwalking riff blend easily with Celtic step-dancing, jigs and a line dance full of exotic head and arm isolations. James Barrett was the standout comic force here, with the always exquisite Caitlin Cucchiara and Adam McGaw in a notable pairing backed by the full company (including Brandon Coleman, Paige Fraser, Marissa Horton, Noelle Kayser, Kelsey Middleton, Owen Scarlett and Karl Watson).
The multi-talented Donlon also created an installation for Pupillo’s “Vital” in the form of a giant silvery tree composed of interlocking metal hangers. It served as a luminous visual counterpoint to the score by David Lang and the ingenious percussionist Peter Ferry (the latter in a bristling onstage performance that was a dance all its own).
Visceral Dance Chicago Finds Footing, Then Flies