Genealogy is important in dance, which passes traditions on from one body to another, often indelibly. Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn begat Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman, who begat Jose Limon. Once a dancer in Humphrey’s company, Limon formed his own troupe in 1945 and made her its artistic director. Like her he drew on the principle of fall and recovery, of a dancer losing and regaining her equilibrium, but added his own interest in the heroic male, as in his famous The Moor’s Pavane. For both choreographers the dancer’s ability to let go and follow through on the momentum of the movement was crucial. Limon died in 1972, but his company lives on, performing the classics of its founders and newer works by modern dance’s top choreographers; in that tradition they perform here Garth Fagan’s Never No Lament. His style (evident when his own troupe danced his evening-length Griot New York at the Shubert last spring) is finely etched–he pays attention to line–and his dancers are exquisitely trained in his unusual technique, which blends the precision of ballet with the abandon of African dance. I’m curious to see what the equally well-trained Limon dancers, in a very different style, do with his stuff. Also on the program are a suite from Limon’s tribute to Humphrey, A Choreographic Offering, and her Air for the G String, 2 Ecstatic Themes, The Call & Breath of Fire, and Day on Earth. Free lecture-demonstration Wednesday at 12:15 PM in the auditorium of the Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State. Regular performances next Friday and Saturday, March 17 and 18, at 8 PM at the Merle Reskin Theatre, 60 E. Balbo; $15-$30. Call 271-7928 for tickets and info. –Laura Molzahn
Next Dance Festival – Critic’s ChoicePRIVATE
Having gobbled up your Thanksgiving dinner, this weekend you can gobble up a feast of dance by four different choreographers during the second, and final, weekend of the Next Dance Festival. Claire Bataille’s duet Nice Work, If You Can Get It, set to Gershwin, has the same straightforward, good old American, slightly old-fashioned flavor as the company she recently retired from, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and just the right seasoning of surprise. Also on the program are some top-notch male dancers, and we all know they’re something of a delicacy: Wilfredo Rivera, the androgynous superquick Power Ranger of River North Dance Company, performs Ginger Farley’s Schism, while Anthony Gongora performs his own solo Listening Without Ears, a quasi-religious piece with devotional music and a candle. But I have the feeling that the real meat and potatoes of these performances, the pieces that will fill your belly for the cold trip home, will be three dances by Winifred Haun. East 90/94 is a substantial ensemble piece that both captures and transcends the frantic pace of modern life, and she’s showing two new dances: a solo, Grace Over Hunger, inspired by a National Geographic photo, and Minutes, a group piece that, using a jumbo-size table, addresses the complexities of the business meeting. Friday and Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 3 at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport; $15. Call 784-6735 for tickets and information.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/Tom Caravaglia.