Although they have spent three years quite literally throwing themselves across Windy City stages, fueling a “high-octane” brand of kinetic choreography with jazz, gymnastics, martial arts and classical techniques, the latest offering by Chicago Dance Crash — “Tribulation and the Demolition Squad” at Storefront Theater—is probably its most ambitious undertaking yet. A linear, character- and narrative-driven contemporary ballet concerning one man’s moral and psychological journey into nihilism, “Tribulation” demands of its twenty multiethnic and multi-disciplined movers that they nonverbally “act” the thematic abstractions and that they flesh out the nuances in their characterizations, all the while executing Mark Hackman’s tricky choreography to atmospheric songs by Radiohead, the Rolling Stones and Busta Rhymes, among others. There is a humorous yet sometimes platitudinous voice-over narration that describes, interprets and contextualizes the action but when the evening fuses—such as it does during a second-act balletic solo of physical and emotional intensity danced by Sarah Keating—it makes for powerful dance theatre. The combination of their “unapologetic” attitude towards dance and a “Fear Factor” brand of risk-taking imbue Chicago Dance Crash—and “Tribulation”—with the adrenaline-inducing rush of a sporting event. (F.O. Almeida)
“Tribulation and the Demolition Squad” plays at the Storefront Theater, 66 East Randolph Street, (312)742-8497, through June 26.