WBEZ | Lucia Mauro http://www.wbez.org/tags/lucia-mauro Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Daily Rehearsal: TJ Miller hits the comments section of Chicagoist http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-08/daily-rehearsal-tj-miller-hits-comments-section-chicagoist-93849 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-08/tjmiller.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>1. The Jeff Awards were last night!</strong></span></span> Didn't it seem like they were super recent? Those <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-08-31/critics-theater-picks-jeff-awards-nominations-91342">were the Non-Equity Jeffs</a>, these are the Equity Jeffs, and never the twain shall meet. Hedy Weiss won her special award, with big wins to <em>Candide</em> and <em>The Madness of King George</em>. Check out the full list of winners <a href="http://www.jeffawards.org/Nominees/nominees.cfm?div=1">here</a>.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>2. An <a href="http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_POSTCARD_LAUGHING_WITH_CHICAGO?SITE=AP&amp;SECTION=HOME&amp;TEMPLATE=DEFAULT">AP feature</a> on the new Second City show <em>History of Chicago</em></strong></span></span>, previewing in December, starts off with lots of fun ways to describe the city: It's cold. There's political corruption. Etc. Etc. But it does give us a hint at the type of work that the new UP theater will be showing. Second City "has partnered with the Chicago History Museum, consulting with curators, performing a series of workshops and soliciting suggestions from audience members to shape a script that will touch on the present and the past." They actually rehearsed at the Chicago History Museum, the only real place to experience history.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>3. Over the weekend, </strong></span></span><a href="http://chicagoist.com/2011/11/06/chicago_comedian_tj_miller_does_com.php"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>Chicagoist called out TJ Miller</strong></span></span>'s upcoming Comedy Central</a> special <em>TJ Miller: No Real Reason</em>, which airs this weekend. Author Samantha Abernethy also included a video of Miller performing on Conan. "He doesn't exactly tackle cutting edge comedy topics," Abernethy wrote, "but who doesn't love a well executed airplane bit?" Miller responded to the comment -- and it seems like it's actually him, given that it's&nbsp;linked to <a href="http://twitter.com/#%21/nottjmiller">his Twitter account</a> -- with the following:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-08/tjmiller.jpg" style="width: 400px; height: 402px;" title=""></p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>4.&nbsp;Lucia Mauro <a href="http://auditoriumtheatre.org/wb/pages/home/performances-events/performances.php?event_id=343&amp;wb_session_id=1237e50f2244e273301c7c30092537f5">talked about </a>Eiko &amp; Koma's dance installation <em>Naked </em></strong></span></span>at the MCA, as well as AXIS Dance Company's performances at the Auditorium Theatre, on <a href="http://www.wbez.org/848"><em>Eight Forty-Eight </em></a>this morning.</p><p><span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: 'Arial','sans-serif';"><o:p></o:p></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>5. &nbsp;The Chicago Arts Orchestra's first concert of the season</strong></span></span>, in conjunction with the City Voices Chorus,&nbsp;"<a href="https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pe/9334635;jsessionid=6264AC2AD21A8AA161DDF20B6ECF9A33">Masters of the 20th and 21st Centuries</a>" is on November 19. There will also be a talk at the Curtain Call Club (a place I didn't know existed) the night before in the&nbsp;Athenaeum Theater (a place I did know existed) where Jesse Revenig, a doctoral candidate at Northwestern University, will talk about composers Samuel Barber and Benjamin Britten (whose work will be featured in the performance) "in relation to sexuality - particularly the fact that these composers lived as openly gay in a time where this was not acceptable."</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Tue, 08 Nov 2011 15:34:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-08/daily-rehearsal-tj-miller-hits-comments-section-chicagoist-93849 Eiko & Koma, AXIS reimagine the dancing body http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-08/eiko-koma-axis-reimagine-dancing-body-93850 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-November/2011-11-08/ek_3191_image.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Editor's Note: Body and soul unite in two upcoming dance performances. Each encourages audiences to re-imagine the body in motion. <a href="http://www.luciamauro.com/" target="_blank">Lucia Mauro</a> shared her take with <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>:</p><p>In dance, the body is a given. After all, it’s the instrument through which artists ply their craft on stage. But some dancer-choreographers challenge viewers to look beyond the flesh and make new discoveries about relationships and their place in the grand scheme of things. Eiko and Koma are legendary figures in experimental dance that doubles as installation art. The Japanese-born husband and wife will perform a continuous duet, titled <em>Naked</em>, at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Turner Gallery. In it, the unclothed dancers move at a glacially slow pace inside a giant nest of twigs and feathers. Their exposed chalk-white bodies seem to figuratively dematerialize inside their natural environment—they fuse with the earth.</p><p>Now some may ask, “But is this dance?” And the answer is not so straightforward. Eiko and Koma were influenced by a post-World War II Japanese practice known as Butoh. This artistic movement, which also has been called a meditative approach to life, honors the journey of the body from birth to death and beyond. Often associated with the atomic bomb and white-powder makeup, Butoh utilizes the entire body, from eyes to fingertips. Eiko and Koma are considered more avant-garde dance artists, most interested in linking human beings to their natural surroundings. And despite their often naked performances, their bodies do not necessarily project sexuality. Rather, the sensual texture of their skin merges with crackling leaves and branches; throughout, their bodies seem to disappear.</p><p>On the opposite end of the spectrum, AXIS Dance Company does not advocate the gradual disappearance of the body. Instead, the artists of this longtime physically-integrated troupe place dancers in wheelchairs front and center. They are joined by able-bodied dancers; but everyone is an able-bodied dancer in this company. . For its Chicago engagement at the Auditorium Theatre, AXIS will perform choreographer Alex Ketley’s hard-edged <em>Vessel</em>. It consists of a stream of quartets and duets meant to evoke how human bodies can project memories, both assuring and painful.</p><p>The central duet in <em>Vessel</em> places a man and woman in an aggressive push and pull. His wheelchair seems to serve as a barrier for their fractured relationship. The woman soars into his lap, perches in a dangerous overhead lift, and tumbles across the floor. He resists, rotates and pitches forward in utter despair before picking himself up and continuing a less arresting tug of war. Just watching them interact is like being mesmerized by the continuous movement of a carousel. The action is fierce and non-stop. It’s also gentle and sublime—like &nbsp;gliding ice dancers entwined with graciously sculpted shapes in space.</p><p>Both Eiko and Koma and AXIS Dance Company challenge preconceptions about dance and expand the reach of the human body.</p><p><a href="http://www.eikoandkoma.org/" target="_blank">Eiko &amp; Koma’s</a> living installation <em>Naked</em> begins Tuesday at the <a href="http://www.turnercontemporary.org/" target="_blank">Museum of Contemporary Art’s Turner Gallery</a>.</p><p><a href="http://www.axisdance.org/" target="_blank">AXIS Dance Company</a> performs Nov. 19 and 20 at the <a href="http://auditoriumtheatre.org/wb/" target="_blank">Auditorium Theatre</a>.</p></p> Tue, 08 Nov 2011 15:33:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-08/eiko-koma-axis-reimagine-dancing-body-93850 Theater and film classics inspiring Chicago's dance scene http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-13/theater-and-film-classics-inspiring-chicagos-dance-scene-93116 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-October/2011-10-13/Lucky Plush productions.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Two upcoming dance performances involve unusual theatrical twists: One takes inspiration from a classic noir film, the other looks to Shakespeare’s <em>Henry V</em>. Both ask whether all is fair in love and war. For WBEZ, Lucia Mauro gave a preview on <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>.</p><p>Pick Up Performance Co(s) performs <a href="http://www.colum.edu/dance_center/performances/pickupperformance/index.php" target="_blank"><em>Dancing Henry V</em> </a>Thrusday through Saturday at the Dance Center of Columbia College. <a href="http://luckyplush.com/" target="_blank">Lucky Plush Productions’ </a><a href="http://mcachicago.org/performances/now/all/2011/740" target="_blank"><em>The Better Half </em></a>will be at the Museum of Contemporary Art later this month and in early November.</p><p>In the 1940s thriller, <em>Gaslight</em>, things are not what they seem. Charles Boyer as a murderous thief marries Ingrid Bergman, the niece of one of his victims. His intention is to return to his victim’s home for her priceless jewels. Throughout the movie, Boyer methodically tries to drive Bergman crazy so that he can eventually get her out of the way by committing her to a mental institution. Lucky Plush Productions, a local dance-theater company, uses ideas from <em>Gaslight</em> to comment on modern marriage—but that doesn’t mean all marriages are fraught with deadly schemes.</p><p>Choreographer Julia Rhoads and director Leslie Buxbaum Danzig have something lighter, but no less profound, in mind. Their world premiere titled, <em>The Better Half</em>, humorously cuts between elements from the movie <em>Gaslight</em> and an alternate reality in which an ordinary couple cave under the weight of life’s mundane challenges. The artists employ a meta-theatrical conceit, similar to Thornton Wilder’s <em>Our Town</em>, in which a stage manager oversees—and even manipulates—the proceedings. With guest artists from Chicago’s acrobatic 500 Clown group, <em>The Better Half</em> favors a dangerous, tumbling sense of movement, with high shoulder balances and aggressive lifts. They also use mime and abstract movement, together with text from Ingmar Bergman’s introspective Swedish TV series, <em>Scenes from a Marriage</em>.</p><p>In one sequence, the wife and husband get into a tiff over a set of misplaced keys, with the husband circling and backtracking to the point of mad frustration. His wife, who alternates between affectionate and wary, searches for a way to escape her boring routine while the man can’t seem to get out of the house. Through architectural lighting that suggests film noir and absurdist entanglements involving a detective and hidden jewels in the attic like the movie, the piece switches between real-life anxiety and theatrical contrivance. In subtle nods to the film, the five performers play around with simple props. The wife, for instance, rolls up her pants at the waist like a corset; one of the maids takes the plastic off the dry cleaning and wraps it around her hips to form a bustle.</p><p>In the end, these constrained characters in search of an escape route learn the virtue of compromise and raise the question: How much control do we have over our own stories?</p><p>New York-based Pick Up Performance Co(s), headed by witty post-modern dance excavator David Gordon, looks at warfare through a similar stripped-down lens. His hour-long movement reflection, titled <em>Dancing Henry V</em>, reevaluates Shakespeare’s beloved but questionably patriotic history play. It centers on the English monarch’s invasion of France in the early 15th century. The <em>Cliff Notes</em>-inspired staging transforms bed sheets into sails and sticks into broad swords against wry narrator Valda Setterfield’s chorus-like proclamations. A real mixed-bag of styles, <em>Dancing Henry V</em> pairs William Walton’s heraldic music from Laurence Olivier’s film version with semi-formal, royal court dance steps and dramatic voiceovers. The dancers are a ragtag band of storytellers in rugby shirts and wool caps—something of a blank canvas reenacting global conflict.</p><p>Both Lucky Plush Productions and Pick Up Performance Co(s) mine the classics for insight into the current state of love and war.</p></p> Thu, 13 Oct 2011 14:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-13/theater-and-film-classics-inspiring-chicagos-dance-scene-93116 Two dance performances tackle global war and harmony http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-17/two-dance-performances-tackle-global-war-and-harmony-86645 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-May/2011-05-17/AAADT-in-Alvin-Ailey&#039;s-Revelations.--Photo-by-Nan-Melville__.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Two upcoming dance performances tackle epic themes of world war and global harmony. But the scale is surprisingly intimate. For WBEZ, dance Critic Lucia Mauro provided a review.</p><p>Mention Leo Tolstoy’s 1869 novel, <em>War and Peace</em>, and most people make some kind of comment about its massive length and scope. So imagine the response to a one-hour dance-theater interpretation of a tome that chronicles the Napoleonic invasion of Russia. The book is also told through the eyes of five aristocratic Russian families. But the dance performance is not so much a condensed version of the novel. It’s a larger exploration of the effects of war at home and abroad, an idea that’s certainly relevant for our times.</p><p>Local theater director Jim Manganello teamed up with choreographer Amanda Timm, along with artists from <a href="http://redmoon.org/" target="_blank">Redmoon</a> and<a href="http://www.collaboraction.org/" target="_blank"> Collaboraction</a> theaters for this production. Their format, reminiscent of the musical <em>Cabaret</em>, sets the catastrophe of war and strife in the absurdist realm of a circus-like variety show. Even the makeup has a garish tone, with ashen lighting punctuated by bursts of blood reds and bruised purples. There are no characters, only archetypes of personalities associated with a combat unit. For instance, there’s the anxious live wire, the misfit who becomes a form of comic relief, and the cool-headed leader.</p><p>The artists begin with a juxtaposition of a battlefield and a ballroom, and visually show how the two intersect. The bigger irony centers on the idea of the prevalence of war to preserve civilized society. One section bounces between couples waltzing and soldiers getting stabbed and blown up. The harmonious becomes confrontational, and we can clearly see the fine line between a headlock and an embrace. The performers also manipulate stools and a table to become a stuffy group of politicians barking out strategies in the safe confines of a situation room. Another sequence involves dancers being bound together with elastic, but they’re really not connected.<br> <br> They seem to be enemies, not lovers.<br> <br> Overall, <em>War and Peace</em> uses circular movements to suggest the cyclical nature of its theme. The late choreographer Alvin Ailey took a similar approach with his epic 1960 dance classic, <em>Revelations</em>. But its iconic set pieces, from a blazing orange sun to a giant round umbrella, emphasize a cycle of unified humanity. When <a href="http://www.alvinailey.org/" target="_blank">Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater</a> makes its annual Chicago stop this month, the dancers will no doubt get the audience up on its feet in celebration of the 50th anniversary of <em>Revelations</em>.</p><p>The three-part African-American opus, set to spirituals, embodies Ailey’s blood memories of growing up in rural Texas. It begins with a moving evocation of faith triumphing over oppression. Then it segues into the exuberant mood of a baptism within a stream of undulating fabric. <em>Revelations</em> ends with a rousing unison dance to "Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham".</p><p>Both <em>War and Peace</em> and Alvin Ailey’s <em>Revelations</em> show the intersection of conflict and joy to address the ultimate triumph of the human spirit.</p><p><a href="http://www.viaducttheatre.com/cms/" target="_blank"><br> <em><strong>War and Peace</strong></em></a><strong> runs through May 22 at The Viaduct Theatre in Chicago</strong></p><p><strong>Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performs May 18-22 at the <a href="http://auditoriumtheatre.org/wb/pages/home/performances-events/performances.php?event_id=299" target="_blank">Auditorium Theatre in Chicago</a>.</strong></p></p> Tue, 17 May 2011 13:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-17/two-dance-performances-tackle-global-war-and-harmony-86645 Chagall inspires new choreography in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-28/chagall-inspires-new-choreography-chicago-85794 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-April/2011-04-28/Chagall Flickr Through the Vilseskogen.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Marc Chagall’s paintings, murals and stained-glass windows are full of lively swirling imagery. So it’s no surprising that his work might inspire dance.</p><p>For WBEZ, dance critic Lucia Mauro provides the details:<br> Chicagoans have close ties to prolific 20th century artist Marc Chagall through his stained class work, <a href="http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/109439" target="_blank"><em>America Windows</em></a>. These evocative panels, in circular strokes of multi-textured blues, were recently reinstalled at the<a href="http://www.artic.edu/aic/" target="_blank"> Art Institute of Chicago</a>. But it seems a pleasant coincidence that two local dance companies are highlighting works that recall the blissful whimsy of Chagall’s color-saturated palette.</p><p><a href="http://www.perceptualmotiondance.com/Lin.shtml" target="_blank">Lin Shook</a>, artistic director of <a href="http://www.perceptualmotiondance.com/" target="_blank">Perceptual Motion</a>, became enamored with the painter’s surreal glimpse at the City of Lights. His 1913 painting titled "Paris through the Window," catapulted the choreographer into a topsy-turvy universe of upside-down trains, a lone parachutist, a cat with a human face and window frames that explode with intense primary colors.</p><p>Perceptual Motion is a multigenerational modern dance company, whose members range in age from 23-91. In Shook’s new quartet, titled <a href="http://www.perceptualmotiondance.com/performances.shtml" target="_blank">"Through the Window</a>," 91-year-old ensemble member Inger Smith enters with two children and proceeds to watch four women dancers through a glass.</p><p>But instead of recreating Chagall’s fanciful canvas, Shook has her dancers embody its illogical spirit. Moreover, they take on the anxious and unpredictable sensibility of children in a playground. The performers are clad in circus-like costumes, the color of cherry red, midnight blue, emerald green and lemon yellow. They resemble the hues of the Twister game floor mat.</p><p>It’s a joyous, uninhibited excursion across the ever-active bodies and minds of children set to high-energy Kurdistan folk music. The dancers literally tumble onto the stage and morph into tightrope walkers. They cartwheel, do flips and somersaults and even form a “London Bridge” archway with their arms. They mirror Chagall’s talent for mixing up animals, landscapes and people in a celebratory collage of the imagination.</p><p>The next performance takes inspiration from the dream-like sensations Chagall’s work provokes. Chagall, a painter of Belarusian-Jewish heritage who lived in France, preserved the fond memories of his childhood village through paintings of fiddlers, livestock, birds and floating brides. They seem to drift by like the images passing across Dorothy’s window after the tornado hits Kansas in <em>The Wizard of Oz</em>. These fantastical juxtapositions naturally recall dream states. And that’s the impetus behind San Francisco-based choreographer Julia Adam.</p><p><em>"</em>Night," her ballet being performed by the Joffrey dancers, takes its lush and fractured imagery from dreams. She subtly references the canvases of Chagall in movements that include lifts with broken balletic lines and capricious suspensions. A woman awakens and is carried aloft by a man representing the disembodied forces of dreams. She seems to float through space. The pair then embarks on dangerous see-saw lifts with split seconds of free fall to reflect a sensation of falling or being chased.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Both Perceptual Motion and the Joffrey Ballet carry audiences through Marc Chagall’s fleeting and profoundly whimsical artistic vision.</p><p>Perceptual Motion performs<em> </em>"Through the Window" on Thursday and Friday evening at the Hamlin Park Fieldhouse Theater.</p><p>The Joffrey Ballet will be performing "Night" May 4-15 at The <a href="http://auditoriumtheatre.org/wb/" target="_blank">Auditorium Theatre in Chicago</a>.&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 28 Apr 2011 15:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-28/chagall-inspires-new-choreography-chicago-85794 Two dance performances give classics a twist http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-20/two-dance-performances-give-classics-twist-85436 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-April/2011-04-20/Busta Keaton.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The classics of literature, film or ballet earn their keep by remaining fresh and compelling from one generation to the next. Still a contemporary update can sometimes make even a classic more relevant. That’s the case for two dance performances currently on stage in Chicago. For <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>, Lucia Mauro tells us how.<br> <br> At first glance, break dancing and the silent movie era seem like a pretty surreal anachronism. Not so for <a href="http://chicagodancecrash.com/" target="_blank">Chicago Dance Crash</a>, a daring eclectic troupe known for unexpected mash ups. Christopher Courtney and Michael Dice, Jr., are the creative forces behind <em><a href="http://chicagodancecrash.com/productions/trials-busta-keaton" target="_blank">The Trials of Busta Keaton</a></em>, the first full-length hip-hop ballet. It’s a contemporary homage to the famous 1920s stone-faced stuntman Buster Keaton. His action-comedy films are considered classics. Chicago Dance Crash compares the silent comedian’s tortured career to the grueling lives of dancers. Courtney, a break dancer known for pushing his body to the limit, admits to performing with strained muscles a collapsed lung.</p><p>So <em>The Trials of Busta Keaton</em> parallels Keaton’s increasingly dangerous stunts with a dancer’s need to constantly challenge their physical capabilities. The large ensemble – clad in pork pie hats and Converse sneakers - often portrays multiple Buster Keatons, who smoothly vacillate between pratfalls and pop and lock. Most significantly, the cast is painted head to toe in black-and-white monotint to convey a live silent film. Yet weaving their way through the intense ensemble action are girls wearing 1960s-style shift dresses in TechniColor. They represent the advances in film technology – from sound to color – that cut short the careers of great physical actors like Keaton. One of the most high-powered numbers mixes up two tap dancers, three acrobatic B-girls, and an ensemble that joins together synchronized music-video moves, wide ballroom sweeps, and the Charleston. It’s the dance equivalent of Keaton flinging himself down a flight of stairs or dangling from a speeding train.<br> <br> ince 1869, choreographers like <a href="http://www.abt.org/education/archive/choreographers/petipa_m.html" target="_blank">Marius Petipa</a>, have been staging classical ballet versions of the 17<sup>th</sup> century novel, <em>Don Quixote</em> by Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes. The title idealistic knight, best known for jousting with windmills, has long symbolized hope, despite the more cynical realities of life. Russian choreographer Boris Eifman, who fuses extreme ballet with avant-garde ideas, brings to Chicago his full-length ballet, <em><a href="http://www.auditoriumtheatre.org/wb/pages/home/performances-events/performances.php?event_id=296" target="_blank">Don Quixote, or Fantasies of a Mad Man</a>.</em> He reimagines the lead character as a patient in a psychiatric ward. This Don Quixote escapes his torment by pretending to live among the villagers celebrating the wedding of Kitri and Basil from Book Two of Cervantes’ novel. He and his patients wave their bed sheets as they alternate with matadors swinging their capes. It’s a soaring, discombobulating affair – complete with gravity-defying lifts and hyper-extended legs – to convey the enduring power of the imagination.<br> <br> Both Chicago Dance Crash and Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg infuse the classics with fresh and provocative life.</p><p>Chicago Dance Crash performs <em>The Trials of Busta Keaton</em> through May 1 at the <a href="http://www.theatreinchicago.com/theatredetail.php?theatreID=170" target="_blank">Hoover-Leppen Theatre</a> in Chicago.<br> <br> The Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg will perform <em>Don Quixote, or Fantasies of a Madman</em> at <a href="http://auditoriumtheatre.org/wb/" target="_blank">Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre</a>.</p></p> Wed, 20 Apr 2011 14:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-20/two-dance-performances-give-classics-twist-85436 Two new performances blend different genres of dance http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-25/two-new-performances-blend-different-genres-dance-84244 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-March/2011-03-25/Lucia_reggie.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Choreographers work within a whole host of styles. But many are focusing on mixing up dance genres. In some local cases a mix of ballroom, ethnic and post-modern approaches are creating altogether new dance forms. Dance critic Lucia Mauro told <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> how.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Gone are the days when dancers can limit themselves to, say, ballet, modern or jazz dance. That&rsquo;s because choreographers are exposed to a range of dance genres &ndash; from social to urban styles. And this cross-fertilization is evident in two upcoming performances.</p><p><a href="http://www.colum.edu/dance_center/performances/reggiewilson/index.php" target="_blank">Reggie Wilson/Fist &amp; Heel Performance Group</a> brings to Chicago the local premiere of a full-length collaborative piece, titled <a href="http://www.bam.org/view.aspx?pid=1283" target="_blank"><em>The Good Dance &ndash; dakar/brooklyn</em></a>. It posits Wilson&rsquo;s experiences as an African-American choreographer working in Brooklyn against those of Congolese dance maker Andreya Ouamba. Both share histories that involve a profound attachment to bodies of water. For Wilson, it&rsquo;s the Mississippi Delta from which his family migrated. For Ouamba, it&rsquo;s the Congo River.</p><p>The ever-fluctuating set piece includes close to 400 half-filled plastic water bottles. The dancers balance the bottles on their heads, frequently shifting their bodies to reach a state of equilibrium. The bottles also symbolize rushing currents, obstacles for the dancers and, later, a makeshift bridge. Water, as a whole, traditionally represents a life-giving source. The bottles are also a poetic way of harnessing that source.<br /> <br />But the real crux of <em>The Good Dance</em> is how it shows side by side the way dancers with formal post-modern training adapt to more natural, or improvised rhythms &ndash; and vice versa. At its core, the work features one woman moving to the beat of her own body through loose arm swings, hip motions and turns. Next to her a trained dancer clearly formalizes these movements into something more stylized. Yet both show a similar virtuosity: the first exhibits a comforting oneness with her inner vibrations; the other crafts stunning shapes with her torso and limbs.</p><p>For its spring show, <a href="http://giordanodance.org/company/" target="_blank">Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago</a> incorporates Latin ballroom rhythms into its performance. Latin dance partners Del Dominguez and Laura Flores of Chicago&rsquo;s Mixed Motion Art ballroom dance studio stepped out of their traditional social performance style to the concert-dance format. Five couples comprise their ensemble work, titled Sabroso, or Delicious in Spanish. Instead of telling a specific story, the high-energy five-part work attempts to capture the spirit of each rhythm. So it opens with a group cha-cha that feels like a free-for-all street party, with its share of lightning footwork. A couple dances a suggestive but refined bolero, with traditional lifts, and a mambo section includes some freer jazz stylings. But instead of only partnering each other, the dancers open up the space and perform impressive solo kicks and swivels facing the audience.</p><p>Both Reggie Wilson and Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago expand the dance vocabulary while stretching their dancers&rsquo; versatility.</p><p><br />Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago performs Friday and Saturday at the <a href="http://www.harristheaterchicago.org/" target="_blank">Harris Theater</a>. Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group will be on stage from March 31-April 2 at the Dance Center of Columbia College.</p></p> Fri, 25 Mar 2011 14:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-25/two-new-performances-blend-different-genres-dance-84244 Technology infuses new dance performances http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-03/technology-infuses-new-dance-performances-83302 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/the-precession.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The internet is proving substantial material for artists trying to come to terms with the pros and cons of technology, and dance is no exception.&nbsp; Two dance&nbsp; performances examine how social media might be reshaping our collective consciousness. Dance critic Lucia Mauro brings us these reviews.<br /><br /><span>Live video feeds and sound collages make regular appearances in contemporary dance performances. Yet rarely is the technology the driving force behind the movement. Performance artists Mark Jeffery and Judd Morrissey seamlessly integrate dancers and a digital environment in <em>The Precession</em>. It&rsquo;s a multi-layered piece that invites audiences into the <a href="http://www.hydeparkart.org/" target="_blank">Hyde Park Art Center&rsquo;s gallery</a> and catwalk to go on a journey through time and space.<br /><br /></span><span>The idea came from the artists&rsquo; visit to the Hoover Dam. They were struck by the two pre-modernist winged workmen sculptures flanking the Dam and the perceived merging of a large-scale labor endeavor and celestial matter. The workmen, you see, are seated within a complex celestial map. This map examines the notion of Precession, which refers to changes in the earth&rsquo;s axis of rotation. It also singles out the position of the pole star, which is aligned with the earth&rsquo;s axis. The sculptor had an intriguing futuristic intent: If extraterrestrials were to discover this map, they would be able to determine the date and time the Dam was dedicated.</span><br /><br />Jeffery and Morrissey pull the idea together by having six dancers embody the earth on a tilt and, later, circulate around a professional fire twirler as the sun. The dancers are also positioned in relation to their individual star digitally projected from above. They&rsquo;re even joined by a physicist giving a lecture. Then science and labor join hands. The performers, dressed as denim-cad laborers, don inflatable wings and move to opposite sides of the space. They recite text that they receive in earphones. These words are Twitter updates culled live from within a mile-radius of the Hyde Park Art Center and the vicinity of the Hoover Dam. So the performers themselves become a collective chorus of the people.<br /><br />Spanish choreographer Fernando Hernando Magadan has thought a lot about how an addiction to Tweeting and texting can alter the way we relate to each other. For <a href="http://www.lunanegra.org/" target="_blank">Luna Negra Dance Theater&rsquo;s</a> spring engagement, he took cues from human evolution. So, for his new work titled <em>Naked Ap</em>e, picture a graph of stooped Cro-Magnon men eventually standing upright. Except, in Magadan&rsquo;s updated version, humans have now become machines. Four dancers, and one pontificating scientist, navigate around sculptures in the shape of disembodied clothing. They begin as one amoeba-like unit struggling to break into individuals. This movement is set against a classical Bach score overlaid with electronic tracks. The dancers embark on a journey of self-discovery&hellip;from mechanical clenching to the desperate touching of another&rsquo;s face. One woman softens her fingers and loosens her torso so that her bones seem to emerge anew.<br /><br /><span>Both <em>The Precession</em> at the Hyde Park Art Center and Luna Negra Dance Theater reflect on ways technology can bring people together and tear them apart.</span></p></p> Thu, 03 Mar 2011 14:34:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-03/technology-infuses-new-dance-performances-83302 Chicago's dance 'Transformation' http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/%5Bfield_program_ref-title-raw%5D/chicagos-dance-transformation <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Pilobolus.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Many dance choreographers seek to expand their medium through inventive collaborations. In two upcoming performances dancers are teamed with very unusual partners - dramatic lighting and lovable puppets: <a target="_top" href="http://www.pilobolus.com/">Pilobolus Dance Theatre performs</a> Friday and Saturday at the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.harristheaterchicago.org/calendar/performance?id=2744&amp;mos=7">Harris Theater in Chicago</a> and the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.joegoode.org/">Joe Goode Performance Group</a> stages <em>Wonder Boy </em>at the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.colum.edu/Dance_Center/">Dance Center of Columbia College</a> next weekend.For WBEZ, dance critic Lucia Mauro gave<span style="font-style: italic;"> </span><em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> the details:<br /><span style="font-style: italic;">&nbsp;</span></p><p>Many choreographers are expanding the scope of dance through inventive collaborations. Two upcoming performances feature dance makers teaming up with dramatic lighting design and lovable puppets. Lucia Mauro gives us the details.</p><p>When it first somersaulted onto the post-modern dance scene 40 years ago, Pilobolus Dance Theatre baffled and intrigued the most seasoned dance lovers. Through Lego-like maneuvers and creative lighting cues, the six-member troupe transformed human bodies into trees, caterpillars and extraterrestrials. So, were they dancers, acrobats, filmmakers or magicians? Today, even though Pilobolus has the means to create more technologically sophisticated optical illusions, audiences are still asking the same question. And the answer is all of the above.</p><p>Pilobolus performs a retrospective of early and new work at the Harris Theater. <em>The Transformation</em> is a shadow-theater excerpt from a larger piece called <em>Shadowlands</em>. It was created in collaboration with Steven Banks, lead writer for the animated <em>SpongeBob SquarePants</em> series, and singer-songwriter David Poe. <em>The Transformation</em> is both a children&rsquo;s story come to life and a whimsical suggestion of Michelangelo&rsquo;s fresco of God creating Adam. It all takes place behind a large screen in silhouette. A giant hand molds the figure of a young girl like clay. Through some deft manipulations, she loses her head only for it to be replaced by that of a poodle. The dog wags its tail and rolls on its back. Eventually the likable figure becomes a dog-headed girl sent off on a journey &ndash; hobo sack and all -- to join the circus by her Titan of a creator. It&rsquo;s a familiar coming of age story with a fantastical twist.</p><p>The company also will perform <em>Duet</em>, a shape-shifting classic in which two women in sundresses grow taller and shorter before the audience&rsquo;s eyes&hellip;a witty study in genial power plays. Co-artistic director Michael Tracy points to the group&rsquo;s keen ability to spur a shock of recognition. He says they don&rsquo;t rely on elaborate rigs to create illusions. Instead they craft magical images through interlocking bodies and hand shadows.</p><p>Joe Goode Performance Group may not employ shadow play for its production of <em>Wonder Boy</em> at the Dance Center of Columbia College. But a puppet steals the spotlight in this touching dance-theater performance about the trials of a hypersensitive super hero. In this Westernized version of Japanese bunraku puppet theater, choreographer Goode has his contemporary ensemble manipulate a melancholic boy puppet. The achingly empathetic boy observes the world through a window with billowing white curtains.</p><p>Turbulent underpinnings in the dancers&rsquo; movement suggest discord, including the boy&rsquo;s combative parents. In other scenes, the performers lean on each other to imply the need for support before reaching out with pleading gestures. Throughout, the puppet sets out to overcome his fears and connect with another human being.</p><p>Both Pilobolus Dance Theatre and Joe Goode Performance Group tackle big questions with transformative ingenuity.</p></p> Thu, 27 Jan 2011 15:43:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/%5Bfield_program_ref-title-raw%5D/chicagos-dance-transformation Holiday dance picks beyond 'The Nutcracker' http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/holiday-dance-picks-beyond-nutcracker <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Coppelius.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Lots of children go to their first ballet during the holiday season and generally that means they see <a target="_blank" href="http://www.nutcrackerballet.net/">&quot;The Nutcracker</a>.&quot; But if you want to mix it up a bit, this year you&rsquo;ve got some options!</p><p>Two local dance companies are performing unconventional takes on the holiday dance tradition. According to dance critic Lucia Mauro, these new works are sure to spark the imagination of young and old alike.</p><p>The first is Hubbard Street 2&rsquo;s &quot;<a target="_blank" href="http://www.hubbardstreetdance.com/hs2_metro_performances.asp">Harold and the Purple Crayon</a>&quot; running Dec. 3 and 4 at the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.harristheaterchicago.org/">Harris Theater</a> in downtown Chicago.</p><p>Then she reviewed the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.corpodance.com/Events.html">Corpo Dance Company</a> performance of &quot;Coppelius&quot; which runs Dec. 17 and 18 at <a href="http://www.linkshall.org/" target="_blank">Links Hall</a>.</p><p>Classical ballet, with its dancing snowflakes and sugarplum fairies, dominates the yuletide landscape. Rarely did contemporary dance dip its often unpointed toes into the mix, until now. Hubbard Street 2, the apprentice company of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, uses modern moves to enliven a classic children&rsquo;s book. The troupe&rsquo;s director, Taryn Kaschock Russell, transformed &quot;Harold and the Purple Crayon&quot; into a 50-minute dance set to music by local indie rock composer Andrew Bird. After reading Crockett Johnson&rsquo;s book to her two-year-old son, Russell devised a way to bring life to the story of a boy who draws his adventures with a purple crayon.</p><p>The gender-neutral character of Harold is performed by six dancers. The dance begins with Harold restlessly awakened in his bed. He springs up, then rolls around before being yanked and pulled across a blank canvas. He makes his escape through a window and proceeds to draw birds in an apple tree. This prompts two dancers to perform a duet as the gentle winged creatures as they softly bob their heads and embrace.<br /><br /> Shortly after, Harold gets lost in the big city against honking horns and a rush of people jogging or talking into their cell phones. He communicates through a series of gestures that children in the audience are asked to repeat by frantically waving their arms and pointing in different directions. Ultimately, children are empowered to use their bodies to tell a story. <br /><br /> Corpo Dance Company also explores the creative process. Artistic director Christopher McCray premieres &quot;Coppelius.&quot; It&rsquo;s a modern ballet and break-dancing reinterpretation of the famed Romantic era ballet, &quot;Coppelia.&quot; McCray veers the story away from the mechanical doll and toward the temperamental toymaker, Dr. Coppelius, who created her. McCray has also recast the fantastical toyshop setting, giving it a slightly more jagged edge.<br /><br /> McCray is a great fan of steam punk, a subgenre of science fiction literature set during the Industrial Revolution. His inspiration is George Mann&rsquo;s book, &quot;The Affinity Bridge,&quot; which recalls Mary Shelley&rsquo;s &quot;Frankenstein&quot; and &quot;The Time Machine&quot; by H.G. Wells. So, it&rsquo;s not surprising McCray turns the intimate Links Hall space into the workshop of a mad genius during the age of steam-automated machines. Dr. Coppelius, an anxious inventor lost in thought, enters and waters his polished brass plants with an oil can against various cogs and wheels. The costume palette of black brocade and gray leather sets a smoky, vintage tone.<br /><br /> Over the course of the dance, we observe the inventor as he builds a series of mechanized dolls, both male and female. Both eventually smooth out their trance-like, herky-jerky moves into more natural gracefulness. But when Dr. Coppelius creates a doll that wins the affections of his girlfriend, he destroys his own work of art: a potent symbol of the artist&rsquo;s fragile ego.<br /><br /> So, during this holiday season, Both Hubbard Street 2 and Corpo Dance Company provide smart alternatives to the saccharine mix.</p></p> Fri, 03 Dec 2010 14:03:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/holiday-dance-picks-beyond-nutcracker