Chicago’s Next Dance Festival

Independent choreographer Paula Frasz has a flair for the double-edged dance, funny but with a serious side. Her new quartet for the sixth annual Next Dance Festival, American Girl, is made up of four solos that explore various identities women in our society have taken on: working girl, thuggish slacker, dreamy small-town soul, and suburban power mom. Each sports an emblem of her chosen role–high-heeled shoes, a leather jacket, boots, a wig–that doesn’t quite fit, which is the source of the humor as well as the pathos in this itchy, edgy dance. The concept may be a bit cartoonish, but Frasz’s choreography is not–it’s angular, risky, gestural but not mired in the everyday. And the piano music–Samuel Barber’s Excursions–is fiendishly elaborate yet lyrical, the perfect sophisticated counterpoint to Frasz’s quirky characters. Also on the program for the first weekend of the festival are the Breakbone Dance Co., the Dance COLEctive, Jennifer Grisham, and Same Planet Different World. (The second weekend features work by the 58 Group, Cindy Brandle, Jeff Hancock, Robin Lakes/Rough Dance, and Peter Sciscioli, while the third features Winifred Haun & Dancers, Zephyr Dance, the Moose Project, and work by Susan Hoffman and Kay Wendt LaSota. A youth matinee on the second weekend includes the young dancers of Momenta!, the Chicago Academy for the Arts, the Midwest Dance Collective, and Chicago Stories as well as Same Planet Different World; the youth matinee on the third weekend features the Barrington Youth Dance Ensemble, Matrix Dance Company, Kids Can Dance, and Free Street Teen Theatre as well as Winifred Haun & Dancers.) Beginning Thursday, January 20: Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 through February 5 at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport; $12-$18 ($36 for all three programs). Beginning Sunday, January 30: youth matinees Sundays at 3 through February 6, also at the Athenaeum; $10, $3 for children 12 and under. Call 312-902-1500 for tickets, 773-583-2995 for information.

–Laura Molzahn

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/George Tarbay.