Jump Rhythm Jazz Project

For Billy Siegenfeld, dancing off the beat is more than an aesthetic choice–it’s a moral statement. “A whole generation has been conditioned to be on the beat–get the papers in on time, feed the correct command to the computer, and so on,” he said in an interview in Dance Magazine. “Syncopation is a wonderful tool, because it constantly drives you away from being ‘right.’ Syncopation is a kind of metaphor for jolly failure.” Codirector of the Jump Rhythm Jazz Project with Jeannie Hill, he found greater scope for his ideas by establishing his own eight-member troupe last August, training them in the “point of view and neuro-muscular circuitry” needed for his choreography. Winner of a 1994 award from the Jazz Dance World Congress and a 1997 Ruth Page award, both for choreography, he must be doing something right–er, I mean wrong. You can see for yourself this weekend when his ensemble performs two of his works (Released in Their Own Custody, set to music by jazz bassist Christian McBride, and No Way Out But Through, about the “cult forces” of sentimentality and cynicism), Hill dances her tap piece Chasing the Groove, and Siegenfeld and Hill team up for Poppy and Lou and their chamber jazz musical Romance in Swingtime. Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 2 in the Josephine Louis Theatre of Northwestern University, 1979 South Campus Dr. in Evanston; $12-$15, $6 for full-time students. Call 847-491-7282 for tickets and information.

–Laura Molzahn

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): still by William Frederking.