Ginger Krebs’ Soft Parade works hard, plays hard

The day after Giordano Dance Chicago closed its spring season, I went to a studio showing of Ginger Krebs’ Soft Parade, premiering this weekend in the Katten/Landau Studio Theater on the fourth floor of Roosevelt University.

Talk about polar opposite experiences.

Krebs Soft Parade 2

In the same way that jalapeño poppers and vichyssoise are both food, Soft Parade and Giordano are joined solely by virtue of appearing together in the dance listings. And yet, both groups play in exaggerated, abstract worlds. Their stark differences lie in the expression of these worlds.

Krebs adorns her cast of six in pale white and beige costumes with magenta accessories, eluding to the theme of “enhancing specialness” that permeates her 60-ish minute Soft Parade. Dani Martinez wears pom-poms in her hair, April Noga dons a backpack in the shape of a massive county fair ribbon. The men are adorned with Miss America-type sashes, as is the white-gloved Aurora Tabar.

Each segment of the work points to the quirks and absurdity of humanity, and specifically artists. Round after round makes comment on how silly we really are – our competitiveness, our serious demeanors, our aptitude for drama and dreaming. Yet, as the audience is forced to take a hard look at itself, the Soft Parade does not condescend.

Beautifully accompanied by James Falzone, Charlie Malave, and John Niekrasz (who occasionally get in the action onstage), we are treated to a combination of live music and playback. As I was serenaded by a lounging clarinetist, I couldn’t help but think that there’s something special about this piece. It’s not dance, but it is. The cast of characters is a diverse, representative sample of society who give us permission to see ourselves with a little more clarity and profundity. There are moments that resonate and moments that confuse. Soft Parade is a chance for dance patrons to step off our pedestals, and outside the box. It’s absurd, and yet it all makes perfect sense.

Ginger Krebs presents Soft Parade April 4 and 5 at 8pm, in The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University’s Katten/Landau studio (425 S. Wabash, #413). Tickets are $10-15, available online here.