Dances for a New World

Eduardo Vilaro, artistic director of Chicago’s Luna Negra Dance Theater, says he hopes this program by three companies will “build a platform for Latino dance artists,” taking folkloric forms into new territory and fusing different Latino cultures. It’s a commendable goal, but it hardly suggests the sheer entertainment value of his own works, three of which will be performed by Luna Negra. Vilaro’s affecting new quartet, Amor y Dolor, examines the immigrant experience, incorporating texts by Roxane Ramos, music that ranges from flamenco to Afro-Caribbean, and expressive, often lyrical dance portraits of four women. One grieves for her lost homeland, the second celebrates it, the third registers her feelings of discontent and exclusion, and the fourth–well, I’m not sure, but the feeling and dancing are gorgeous. Unlike the cliched contemporary Latin dance common in the big shows downtown, there’s nothing harsh or egregriously sexual about Vilaro’s pieces. Indeed, his Ognat, a variation on the tango, was one of the more tender, nuanced pieces on the “Duets for My Valentine” program at the Athenaeum Theatre in February. It will be repeated here, and Vilaro’s new Somos, based on Afro-Cuban dance and folklore and set to John Coltrane, will complete the trio. Also on the program are the Pilsen Ballet, performing Shanti Kumari’s Thank You, India, a fusion of flamenco, East Indian dance, ballet, and modern, and New York’s Millennium Project in a contemporary ballet version of Carmen featuring three women in the title role. Friday and Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 3 at the Duncan YMCA Chernin Center for the Arts, 1001 W. Roosevelt; $10-$15, $13.50 for groups of ten or more. Call 312-902-1500 for tickets, 312-422-7437 for information.

–Laura Molzahn