Second Signal is the program's high point. Mark Alcock, James Barrow, and Ed Pickering play the taiko drums onstage, their ferocious energy a goad to the dancers. Fukiko Takase begins with her legs planted wide apart, letting the biggest drum's thudding beats prime her. There's more variety than in the other pieces: big strides, jumps, sudden explosions. People come and go as if feeding into an ongoing ritual that allows Chihiro Kawasaki to go briefly crazy and a line of women to stand and thrust their chests at invisible opponents. The constant level of energy and intensity here seems strongly motivated, real, all-involving. And it thrills the audience.
During the Pillow's final week, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago performs in the Shawn and the Bebe Miller Company in the smaller Duke, while Joanna Haigood's Zaccho Dance Theatre takes the audience through the wood in her wonderful Invisible Wings, honoring the site's history as a way station on the Underground Railroad.