MUNTU DANCE THEATRE OF CHICAGO

In keeping with the company’s community roots, Muntu concerts resemble family reunions: you’ll notice lots of audience members who haven’t seen one another since the last performance shaking hands and catching up. But talent is the real foundation of the troupe’s popularity: Muntu musicians have contributed to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s performances of Hannibal’s African Portraits, and the dancers have all the bursting energy and stringent control required for African movement. Indeed, some of the dancers now in the troupe or training for it first heard the music and felt the dancing as babies brought to the company’s rehearsals by their dancer mothers. In celebration of its 25th anniversary, Muntu offers a program of works that demonstrate the links between African and African-American culture. Kakilambe, choreographed by Abdoulaye Camara, is based on a healing ritual from New Guinea, and artistic director Amaniyea Payne’s Sounou is a Mali social dance. Ole Time Religion, a collaboration between Payne and guest artist Chief James Hawthorne Bey, mixes up African-American and Yoruba traditions of religious dance and music. And Mickey Davidson’s Juba Jig showcases dances of the American slave era–the hambone, the juba, the cakewalk–in a way that’s joyful while remaining mindful of the coercion and repression that gave birth to these forms. Thursday, May 15, at 7:30; Friday and Saturday at 8; and Sunday at 3 at the Shubert Theatre, 22 W. Monroe; $10-$30 (Saturday-night gala is $100 and includes preferred seating and a preconcert reception). Call 312-831-2822 for tickets, 773-602-1135 for information, including group rates. –Laura Molzahn

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Uncredited photo.