Artistic director James Morrow returns to his hip-hop roots in two new works on a program of five premieres. His Can You Dig It is a generation-spanning celebration of funk and social criticism using music by James Brown’s JB’s, and texts by KRS-One, Public Enemy, and Mos Def. There’s an edge to this piece, which includes literal soapbox speeches and alludes to ongoing wars on poverty, drugs, and crime. But Morrow’s fundamental optimism and the get-down dancing keep gloom and doom at a distance: after Kyle Terry’s heavy-duty acrobatic display, he goes to a mike and gasps, “The revolution is tiring!” Morrow’s other piece, a work in progress, is part of a projected full-evening work to be performed in “soundsuits” by SAIC fashion chair Nick Cave–amazing costumes covered with raffia, sequins, and crocheted bits and topped by masks and/or headdresses. Morrow’s been working with Cave for four years, but this is his first fully choreographed piece using the suits–and surprisingly, Cave’s mammoth constructions enhance the choreography rather than upstage it. Also featured are a new duet by assistant artistic director Raphaelle Ziemba, a quartet by former Akasha artistic director Laura Wade, and a duet exploring codependency danced by Ziemba and guest artist Victor Alexander. Fri-Sat 6/23-6/24, 8 PM, Northeastern Illinois University, auditorium, 5500 N. Saint Louis, 773-442-4636, $15.50-$20.50.

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