Chicago’s Next Dance Festival

Harrison McEldowney knows he’s in a bit of a rut. But what can he do? He’s good at choreographing funny dances–he just can’t help it. Fans of River North Dance Company, where he’s a dancer, are probably familiar with his work from the trio Perfidia, in which a woman switches partners with remarkable sangfroid. That piece is restrained, however, compared to his premiere for the fourth annual Next Dance Festival. Spike ups the ante with some pretty silly songs from the 40s by Spike Jones & His City Slickers, full of aural jokes that McEldowney takes to a new level of literalness: the word “heart” produces a few seconds of lub-dub rhythms in the music, which he amplifies in the visual joke of a dancer’s pumping chest. He also reinforces the big-band atmosphere by occasionally including a conductor and an orchestra of clockwork dancers. A hoot, Spike can be seen on the festival’s benefit program Thursday, January 22, at 7:30 (reception at 6; $35, $15 for performance only) and on the first of the fest’s three weekends, along with pieces by Christy Munch, Atalee Judy’s BreakBone DanceCo., Margi Cole’s Dance COLEctive, and Ginger Farley’s new 58 Group. (Featured on the second weekend are works by Frank Fishella, Paula Frasz, Carrie Hanson, and Winifred Haun & Dancers; on the third, Cerulean Dance Theatre, Amy Crandall, Cindy Reid, Eduardo Vilaro, and Zephyr Dance.) Fridays and Saturdays at 8 through February 7 in the auditorium of the Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State; $15 ($10, or $20 a family, for the children’s matinee next Sunday, February 1, at 3). Free lecture-demonstrations preview the performances Thursdays, January 29 and February 5, at 12:15 in the same place. (Nonperishable food items brought to Friday-night performances will be donated to the food pantry at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Ravenswood.) Call 773-278-6453 for tickets and information.

–Laura Molzahn

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Harrison McEldowney uncredited photo.