The story of Helen Keller and her relationship with teacher Anne Sullivan took the spotlight in Thodos Dance Chicago's Winter Program last weekend at Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Chicago.
Featuring an original score by Bruce Wolosoff and choreography by Melissa Thodos and Broadway/film veteran and acclaimed choreographer Ann Reinking, "A Light in the Dark, the Story of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan" is a compelling work. The new contemporary ballet was the focus of the entire first act of the winter engagement with other pieces presented in Act 11.
Dancer Jessica Miller Tomlinson starred as Keller while Alissa Tollefson danced the role of Sullivan both exhibiting energy and drama throughout the piece. In addition to characters Keller and Sullivan, dancing across the stage were performers taking on the roles of Helen's mother, her brother, Sullivan's brother Jimmie and Sullivan's students at the school for the blind.
Reinking and Thodos artistically crafted wonderful choreography for the stellar work putting the focus on a mix of lyrical and flowing as well as frenzied and dramatic movements.
Various scenes in the ballet featured fighting/struggling moments between Keller and Sullivan; the famous scene at the water fountain which was depicted in the movie "The Miracle Worker" in which Sullivan teaches Keller to say water; and other poignant and/or jarring moments. Aside from the dancing segments there are some speaking sections within this work.
When "A Light in the Dark" is added to any other Thodos engagements, dance fans shouldn't miss the production. It's a ballet that easily draws audiences members in for its emotional, artistic and theatrical content.
Other pieces starring on the program were "Rest is Not Always Possible," by KT Nelson; "Subtle Passages" by Melissa Thodos; and "Lullaby" by Brian Enos.