White Oak Dance Project

Chicagoans, treat yourselves. Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project hasn’t performed here since 1994, and there just isn’t another modern-dance repertory group with such distinguished dancers and high-class choreography. Consider Neil Greenberg’s Tchaikovsky Dance, an octet with three diverse strands: chamber music cut into bits, punctuating a piece performed mostly in silence; a text (projected on the rear wall) about the dance and the dancers so prosaic it seems ironic; and clean-cut, elegantly logical movement blending stillness and carved motion. The result is a dance with very complicated effects: the musical snippets, like the Lord, both give and take away emotion; the text makes the audience laugh; and the dancing focuses our attention on the beauty and power of the vulnerable, limited human body, on the ease of women’s joints and the ropy strength of men’s arms and shoulders. Baryshnikov–who’s just one of the ensemble in this piece–reveals a greater acclimation to modern dance than he’s shown before, but occasional glimpses of ballet-style emoting give his performance melodramatic highlights. He’ll also dance one of two solos on each program, both with inanimate “partners”: either Dana Reitz’s Unspoken Territory, in which he interacts with light, or Heartbeat: mb, accompanied by the amplified sounds of his own heart. Also on the program are Kraig Patterson’s Y and the company premiere of Paul Taylor’s 1979 Profiles. Wednesday and Thursday, June 11, at 7:30; next Friday and Saturday, June 12 and 13, at 8; and next Sunday, June 14, at 2 at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress; $15-$60 ($125 for opening-night preferred seating and postperformance reception benefiting the Auditorium Theatre Council’s restoration of the landmark theater). Call 312-902-1500 for tickets and information, 312-431-2397 for tickets to and information about the benefit, and 312-431-2357 for rates on groups of 20 or more.

–Laura Molzahn

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Mikhail Baryshnikov uncredited photo.