A tale about AIDS expressed in dance

Dance/theater works about AIDS have become as commonplace as newspaper stories about the disease's statistic. One of the latest dance/theater pieces to play Baltimore is "Before Forever," by Philadelphia's Danceteller troupe. Currently at Theatre Project, the 5-year-old work combines music, dance and words to paint a poignant picture of life with AIDS.

Created by choreographer Trina Collins, playwright Robert Barnett and musician Micki Rossi, "Before Forever" may have been on the cutting edge five years ago, but today the work is not always as strong as it could be. This was most apparent in the first half of the work, where the dancers seemed too comfortable with their roles and where some judicious editing would help move the work along.


The piece opens with five dancers -- John M. Blanchard, Ms. Collins, Van Grimes, Josie Smith and Paul Struck -- playing a variety of childhood games. Their innocence and playfulness evolve as they change their games into tag. The game of tag becomes a physical metaphor for shunning, and we watch as four dancers run from the one who is "it," while we hear how friends can shun someone who has been "diagnosed."

Vignettes add another piece to the puzzle, another tone, another clue as to what living with AIDS is like. Personal histories are given, reactions are retold, events are recounted. Movements, music and text work well and illuminate each other. Sometimes the dancers speak, sometimes the words are incorporated into the taped score. There are outstanding moments, when movement and message succinctly coalesce: a duet with an IV pole is both brilliantly touching, and oddly humorous.


Like the AIDS quilt, "Before Forever" uses hopes, fears, dreams and memories of very real people as its fabric.


When: Aug. 20-23 at 8 p.m.

Where: Theatre Project, 45 W. Preston St.; Aug. 23 performance will be held at Maryland Art Place, 218 W. Saratoga St.

Tickets: $14.

Call: (410) 752-8558.