Randy Duncan is a man with a legacy. His dances might make you feel good, but he’s not just a feel-good kind of guy–like Alvin Ailey and Donald McKayle, he looks for the place where the spiritual and the social and the physical come together. Add to that his talent for finding and molding dancers and you’ve got a hot mix. In the last year or so Duncan’s ability to put social issues in the context of individual experience has blossomed. In the 1992 Unarmed a single beautifully alert man responds to battle; without exactly being an antiwar piece, it brings home the waste of a soldier’s intelligence and strength. Now Duncan’s created the full-company Listen Beneath (the first part of three in an intended evening-length work) to explore class issues in this country. Playing with line, the dancers’ proximity, and partnering and ensemble dancing, he realizes many of the intangible differences that both separate the classes and draw them together, creating some chilling images of avarice, jealousy, and longing amid all the exuberant life. The original jazz score, by William Russo, is rough and raw, a thick urban blast–there’ll be 19 musicians onstage–with a thread of lyrical song running through it. The two programs this weekend both include Listen Beneath, Duncan’s Initiation, and revivals of Holmes’s Anything That Comes Out of My Mouth and The Long Road, Friday also includes Holmes and Duncan’s Aretha; Saturday, Duncan’s Unarmed and Turning Tides. At the Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker, at 7:30; $12-$25. Call 902-1500 for tickets.

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