They’re probably the only modern dance company to stipulate to aspiring auditionees that they “not be afraid of heights.” One look at the sets they have to dance on and you’ll know why. Prominent Los Angeles dance company Diavolo returns to the Chicago area only six months after their spring 2007 appearance in the cavernous Auditorium Theatre to play the intimate 739-seat McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn. Founded in 1992 by Parisian-born yet American-educated artistic director Jacques Heim, a onetime choreographer for Cirque du Soleil, Diavolo has become known for their obscenely large sets on, around and with which its eight-member corps performs their kaleidoscopic brand of modern dance cum acrobatics cum aggressively physical theater. And what else are you going to do with a group of men and women collectively versed in not just jazz, ballet and tap, but also the stuff of Hollywood stunt crews, high-dive championships and Tae Kwan Do? When they’re not defying gravity, they’re creating gorgeously memorable images: a vertical wall peppered with protruding metal bars (an abstract military obstacle course) challenges the dancers to get through it despite the danger of injury; what looks like the cross-section of a massive hull of a wooden ship rolls from side to side like a gigantic rocking horse as the performers leap and slide from one end to another; white pillows fill the entire stage and upon this giant “comforter” a terpsichorean slumber party transpires. For the spectator Diavolo is a kinetic sensation. In the McAninch Arts Center, where no seat is more than seventy-five feet from the stage, their aesthetic—working together to overcome insurmountable obstacles—should also register as pure emotional exhilaration. (Fabrizio O. Almeida)
At the McAninch Arts Center at College of DuPage, Farewell and Park Boulevards, Glen Ellyn, (630)790-9806. This production is now closed.