September 20th, 2014

Dance Review by Sarah Osterman Myers, September 20, 2014

Rating 3 Stars Out of 4

It starts right away when you walk into Defibrillator— they’re staring in your direction. And “they,” the two dancers dressed in black and wearing 50s-looking swim caps, continue to stare, without looking at anything in particular, for a long, long time. Even upon entrance of the third dancer, who is ensconced in a mound of hot pink tutus and obviously a total spectacle compared to the monochromatic surroundings, they seem unaffected.

Zephyr Dance’s production of The Balance In Between is so meticulous it’s mesmerizing. The 90-minute production is built upon repetition, control and precision, which make it an exercise of discipline for both dancer and audience member alike. Since the majority of movement is performed in slow motion, the onlookers who have just poured in off of the fast-paced, city streets are challenged to stop, perceive and consider simplicity.

Each person will experience something different. The Defibrillator is an open, gallery-type space with white floors and silver walls. Audience members are encouraged to observe from different angles, and during the Saturday show people changed their location to get different perspectives. At one point, while seated on the floor against the north wall, the pink-tutu head hovered over me, and I could hear her breathing. No matter where you are, your space will be invaded. But was it even your space to begin with?

Throughout the show, there’s time to consider questions like the one above, because the repetitive sound design by Michelle Kranicke and scrupulous movement invention by Sabrina Baranda, Maggie Bouffard and Michelle Kranicke start to feel hypnotic, freeing the brain of distractions and enabling room for new thought. Personally, watching the dancers perform unhurried walks, gradual reaches, prolonged balances, and periods of tedious unison induced a feeling of restlessness in me— maybe because I had been plucked out of my busy, urban lifestyle and placed into a peculiar world where time felt malleable.

But right when you crave a release, the show builds momentum. The dancers clad in black depart from their slow ways and embark on cathartic movement ventures that involve twitches, loud handclaps, and fast, angular gestures. Meanwhile, the tutu dancer, who has tied up her feet with string and endeavored an endless series of microscopic steps and hops, starts to loosen her ties. After much struggle on both ends, the performers somehow sync up and manage to release a deluge of energy during a powerfully physical standing-and-falling phrase that goes on until the dancers are so out of breath, they start heaving and coughing.

The Balance In Between is an examination of endurance and restraint. I dare you to take the test. The next performances are scheduled for September 21, 26, 27 and 28 at 7:30 PM at Defibrillator Gallery, 1136 North Milwaukee. Tickets are $11. For more information, email


Sarah Osterman Myers
Chicago Stage Standard

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