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The Rhythm Method

Dances of the Diaspora Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago at the Shubert Theatre, May 10 and 11 One of the most gratifying aspects of folk dance–whether African, Eastern European, or Taiwanese–is the ability to unite people. It’s a subtle force, yet “Dances of the Diaspora,” Muntu Dance Theatre’s Spring Festival of Dance offering, shows that […]

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Towering Achievement

Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theatre at the Shubert Theatre, May 17-21 During intermission I couldn’t help but notice an incredibly tall black guy standing in the corner of the lobby. He was surrounded by a gaggle of admiring grown-ups and kids who all seemed to want his autograph, or at least a pat on the […]

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Winifred Haun & Dancers

Of all the young choreographers in Chicago, few are as serious–and as successful–as Wini Haun. Offstage, she runs head-on into risky ventures such as organizing last fall’s Next Dance Festival or staging two seasons per year while most companies rely on one. Onstage, she’s equally bold, following her instincts and never looking around to see […]

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A Bad Joke

The Minstrel Show Donald Byrd/The Group at the Shubert Theatre, April 13-15 Five years ago, in the Crown Heights section of New York City, a five-year-old African American boy was playing on the sidewalk when he was struck and killed by a station wagon that had somehow jumped the curb. When the driver, a young […]

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Shoestring Ballet

Coppelia Ballet Chicago at the Shubert Theatre, April 5-9 Ballet Chicago has had a tumultuous year. After Hansel and Gretel premiered last spring with a deafening thud, the company lost its publicist, laid off its resident choreographer, and ruthlessly cut its staff and corps. The company’s outlook improved slightly when it inherited the space and […]

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Defining Gravity

Limon Dance Company at Merle Reskin Theatre, March 17 and 18 When the Limon Dance Company performs the work of modern-dance pioneer Doris Humphrey it resurrects a long-forgotten zeitgeist. Back in the 1930s and ’40s, when Humphrey was experimenting with balance, falling, and recovery, her choreography was entirely new and distinctly American. Her techniques deeply […]

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Jan Erkert & Dancers

A great choreographer is like an alchemist. She takes basic elements–movement, sound, light–and somehow transforms them into something far more beautiful than the sum of the parts. Do it once and people call it luck. Twice and it’s called potential. To arrive at it slowly, as Jan Erkert has over a period of 15 years, […]

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Love and Money

Joffrey Ballet at the Auditorium Theatre, January 24-29 I felt a twinge of confusion watching the crowd jump to their feet during the finale of Joffrey’s rock ballet Billboards. Prince’s bopping “Willing and Able” blasted through the Auditorium punctured by cries of “Bravo!” Ballerinas on pointe shook their behinds, and male dancers posed like so […]

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Perishable Goods

Joel Hall Dancers at the University of Chicago Theater, December 7-11 Joel Hall might annoy a lot of balletomanes with his new, hip jazz version of The Nutcracker, set to Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s rendition of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite. Even though Nuts & Bolts is a work in progress, it’s the most entertaining holiday […]

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Healing Ritual

SWEET HOMECOMING CHICAGO Jim Self at Link’s Hall, October 14-16 “I told him he was the most beautiful man I had ever seen,” a young woman said to her date as they walked out of Jim Self’s concert at Link’s Hall. “Who?” her date asked, looking confused. “Jim Self,” she said. For the record, Self […]

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Ballet Folklorico de Mexico

BALLET FOLKLORICO DE MEXICO at the Auditorium Theatre, September 22-25 “Viva Mexico!” someone yells from the stage of the Auditorium Theatre as confetti flies over the heads of the audience. People are on their feet, stomping and clapping for more. The mariachi band strikes up another tune. Onstage, a corps of 34 magnificent dancers whirl […]

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Body and Soul

GUS GIORDANO JAZZ DANCE CHICAGO at the Harold Washington Library, through September 17 Dance is a raw art form–the dancer has no props, no musical instrument to hide behind, no words, no canvas or script. This puts the dancer in an incredibly vulnerable position. She communicates with her body, and the body is a sensitive […]