Photo courtesy Amber Bliss
Two extraordinary companies—San Francisco’s Alonzo King LINES Ballet (ethereal, neoclassical) and Chicago’s own Hubbard Street (grounded, contemporary)—merge into a supergroup of virtuosic dancers for a new piece choreographed by King. Glenn Edgerton, artistic director of Hubbard Street, proposed the collaboration—unorthodox for companies of this size and profile—and King agreed, creating a nine-part work for a combined group of twenty-eight dancers entitled “AZIMUTH.” The piece premiered last week on the West Coast to warm reviews and this week the companies come to colder climes for a run at the Harris. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo courtesy Cheryl Mann
Two Spanish choreographers fill the Luna Negra Spring program with passionate dancing and theatrical sets: Fernando Hernando Magadan, who treated us to his elegant, athletic and highly articulate “Naked Ape” two years ago, and company member Monica Cervantes, one of this year’s “Top 25 to Watch” in Dance Magazine. Magadan’s new work, “Royal Road,” is informed by the tension between improvisation and notation in art; the San Francisco-based Turtle Island Quartet performs two pieces, composed by the Quartet’s violinist David Balakrishnan, live with the dancers, amidst a set bedecked with musical scores and Labanotation—a system of movement notation created in the 1920s by Rudolf Laban. Cervantes’ new piece for six dancers is entitled “Presenté” and inspired by her grandfather and notions of time and the present moment. Read the rest of this entry »
Though we publish a list of “players” every year, we alternate between those whose accomplishments are most visible on-stage (the artists, last year) and those who wield their influence behind the curtain (this year). Not only does this allow us to consider twice as many people, but it also puts some temporal distance between the lists. So, the last time we visited this cast of characters, two years ago, we were celebrating the end of the Richard M. Daley years in Chicago, fretting over a nation seemingly in the mood for a Tea Party and contemplating the possibility of a Latter Day Saint in the White House. Today, we’ve got a dancer in the mayor’s office, the most prominent Mormons are in a chorus line at the Bank of America Theatre and the Tea Cup runneth dry. Call us cockeyed optimists, but things sure look better from here. And so, meet the folks who, today, bring us the best theater, dance, comedy and opera in the nation.
Written by Zach Freeman, Brian Hieggelke, Sharon Hoyer and Johnny Oleksinski
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- Photo: Todd Rosenberg
The name Mats Ek might ring a bell with many dance aficionados in our fair city, but the likelihood they have seen his work is relatively slim; dances by the Swedish master are rarely performed in the U.S. Hubbard Street is rectifying the situation with their winter program, which centers around Ek’s “Casi-Casa” (“Almost Home”), a forty-minute piece comprised of two of the renowned choreographer’s shorter works plus additional choreography. Hubbard Street is the first American company to perform the piece. Ek’s muse Ana Laguna, along with Mariko Aoyama, former member of Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal, has been working with the dancers on precision and detail, not only of movement, but of the intent required to make Ek’s gestural, emotionally driven choreography resonate. Three more pieces round out the program: two by resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo (including “Blanco,” one of my personal favorites) and “Untouched” by Aszure Barton. (Sharon Hoyer)
At the Harris Theater, 205 East Randolph, (312)850-9744. Thursday-Sunday, December 6-9. $25-$99.
Photo courtesy Lois Greenfield
It’s been said that artists are people who haven’t forgotten how to play. Take for example choreographer Trey McIntyre and the dancers in his Project; at the base of flawless classical technique is a foundation of energetic playfulness that feels instantly exciting and familiar, like reuniting with your best friend from high school and finding out you still have a ton in common. McIntyre and company are constantly working on cool stuff: their own repertory of course, commissions for McIntyre from high-profile companies across the country (e.g. American Ballet Theatre, Hubbard Street Dance), but also beautiful, delightful, often unsettling dance/music videos posted to their website and spontaneous street performances in their home base of Boise, Idaho—be it a twitchy, explosive solo to “Blister in the Sun” in a hotel parking lot or the full company greeting their creative partners from Korea in the airport with the “Gangnam Style” dance (worth two minutes on YouTube. It’s adorable). And then there are the couple weeks each year the company dedicates to community engagement in schools and hospitals. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo courtesy Don Lee
This year’s Global Rhythms program—an annual feast of international percussive performance groups presented by the Chicago Human Rhythm Project—is all about the rhythm, adrenaline-pumping, head-bobbing, bang-on-the-closest-available-surface rhythm. CHRP hosts a visit from Vancouver-based ScrapArtsMusic, a five-drummer ensemble who pound out complex, driving beats on handmade instruments from reclaimed materials—industrial-grade stuff, welded from “accordion parts and artillery shells,” perfect mediums for a quintet that defines their work as “quirky, retro-futuristic percussion by super humans.” The virtuosity of the ScrapArts crew does indeed push the boundaries of speed, energy and precision, and their playful choreography and steampunk aesthetic makes the show a visual treat too. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: Cheryl Mann
River North’s fall concert highlights new works by first-time collaborators with the company, including Adam Barruch and rising star Nejla Yatkin. Ms. Yatkin has created a solo piece for Jessica Wolfrum—a fiery, powerful work in which Wolfrum phoenixes from an endless, flowing gown. Though she works with her own company, the solo is Yatkin’s forte, and how she exclusively worked for the first seven years of her choreographic career. “Solos teach you how to go in depth and clarify your style,” she says. “And to create intimacy with the audience that you don’t have when you perform as a group.” Her piece is called “Renatus,” meaning “rebirth,” and deals with letting go of the old and stepping into the unknown. Other pieces on the program include company favorites “Three” by Robert Battle, and “Forbidden Boundaries” and “The Good Goodbyes” by Artistic Director Frank Chaves. (Sharon Hoyer)
At the Harris Theater, 205 East Randolph, (312)334-7777. Friday and Saturday, November 16 and 17 at 8pm. $30-$75.
Photo courtesy Gorman Cook Photography
Gus Giordano’s jazz-based company celebrates the big five-oh with two nights of full-company pieces and a high-octane premiere by artistic associate Autumn Eckman. Eckman’s new work is entitled “G-Force”—expect some seriously accelerating bodies in motion—and is set to a bumping electronica score. The rest of the program covers more than three decades of work, including Gus’ 1978 solo “Wings” performed this weekend by Eckman. Read the rest of this entry »
The fall program for Luna Negra, one of this city’s finest (and, in my opinion, most under-seen) companies, turns a lens on Brazilian choreographer Fernando Melo. Luna Negra delighted the Harris in 2010 with Melo’s “Bate” (Portuguese for “heartbeat”)—an intoxicating brew for five men and two women that is equal parts wit and charm, served with a dash of sweetness and spiked with surprises throughout. “Bate” is inspired by Brazilian soap operas and Melo frames his dancers like a photographer, using curtains to draw focus, obscure, and create opportunities for play. Read the rest of this entry »
Zachary Wittenburg/Photo: Nathan West
The Chicago Now panel discussion and snapshot performances, hosted by the Museum of Contemporary Art on August 24, rounded out the contemplative artist side of the Chicago Dancing Festival that for five years has stirred the hearts of performance lovers throughout the city with its free events. Festival co-founder Jay Franke says Chicago has become a locus for dance, although always “with room for more.”
The Chicago Now panel was designed to “take the temperature of dance” in the Chicago scene today by featuring the work and words of several leading dance artists, chosen in part by curator Peter Taub for their innovation and visibility: Ron de Jesús, founder of Ron de Jesús Dance and pupil of Twlya Tharp, and Carrie Hanson, founder of The Seldoms—who have put on site-specific work in an empty swimming pool, a trucking warehouse and backstage at the Harris Theater—headed up the panel. These two were particularly spotlit due to the snapshot performances of their company’s work—while they sweated, other panelists Lane Alexander of the Chicago Human Rhythm Project and Julie Nakagawa of DanceWorks Chicago sat back and put in their two cents. Read the rest of this entry »