WBEZ | Lucio Mauro http://www.wbez.org/tags/lucio-mauro Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Love is in the air and so is dance http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-11/love-air-and-so-dance-82162 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/ballet dancer.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Valentine&rsquo;s Day is just around the corner.&nbsp;So is spring.&nbsp;That means LOVE is in the air! That&rsquo;s especially true for two local dance companies.<a target="_blank" href="http://www.rivernorthchicago.com/"> River North Dance Chicago</a> and <a target="_blank" href="http://www.joffrey.com/">The Joffrey Ballet</a> are celebrating the loving season with romantic moves &ndash; from the tango to the waltz. River North Dance Chicago performs &ldquo;Al Sur Del Sur&rdquo; today through Sunday at the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.harristheaterchicago.org/">Harris Theater in Chicago</a>.<br /><br />The Joffrey Ballet kicks off its week and a half run of &ldquo;The Merry Widow&rdquo; Wednesday at the <a target="_blank" href="http://auditoriumtheatre.org/wb/">Auditorium Theatre</a>. WBEZ dance critic Lucia Mauro got caught up in the sensual swirl:<br /><br /> It just doesn&rsquo;t get more seductive than the tango. This intricate partnering dance that originated in the barrios of Buenos Aires truly embodies a vertical expression of a horizontal desire. Yet various tango spectacles that breeze through town tend to favor flashy moves, macho posturing and a chronological timeline of the dance&rsquo;s history. Not so for River North Dance Chicago, a local troupe that masterfully combines ballet, jazz, contemporary and social dace.<br /><br /><span>For the company&rsquo;s annual Valentine&rsquo;s engagement at the Harris Theater, artistic director Frank Chaves commissioned a suite of tangos by Argentinean tango superstars Sabrina and Ruben Veliz. The six-part dance, titled Al Sur Del Sur, tells the story of five couples and their tender and tumultuous relationships. The choreographers use movement as a vehicle to express these conflicting emotions. So the piece, as a whole, has a more believable and authentic feel than mere displays of showy kicks and spins.<br /><br /></span><span>At its core, the tango is shaped like a spiral that requires partners to navigate the push and pull of attraction. In one part of Al Sur Del Sur, an unbridled romantic duet blends the dance&rsquo;s characteristic slicing and dicing of the legs with more open lifts. This section segues into a tempestuous quartet. It brilliantly reveals sexual tension, jealousy and flirtatiousness through a sharp turn of the head, eyes locking in a freeze-frame flash of lust, aggressive dips, and a firm grabbing of a stiletto heel. There&rsquo;s even a loving duet for two women, who dance barefoot, and seem to be consoling each other. The piece culminates in a seemingly improvised milonga, or tango club setting, where all these characters come to escape from their daily problems.</span><br /><br /><span>The Joffrey Ballet&rsquo;s staging of The Merry Widow takes the waltz as its movement motif. But it&rsquo;s no less steamy. This Chicago premiere is a full-length staging by British choreographer Ronald Hynd of the ballet version of Franz Lehar&rsquo;s classic operetta. Originally created in 1975 for the Australian Ballet, The Merry Widow uses a lush and uncluttered musical adaptation of the Lehar score by John Lanchbery and Alan Abbott. The music&rsquo;s melodic expressiveness and the dance&rsquo;s conversational elegance clearly tell this beloved story set in a fictitious French principality at the turn of the century. There&rsquo;s also a famous can-can dance sequence and lots of fancy hats, epaulets and tight waistcoats.</span> Hanna, a poor-girl-turned-wealthy-heiress is unexpectedly reunited with the man who once rejected her: Count Danilo, now trying to save his country from bankruptcy. <br /><br />Complications naturally ensue. In addition, a scandalous subplot involves a clerk named Camille who is having an affair with a feisty young woman, Valencienne, who is married to an old baron. In one of the ballet&rsquo;s lustier scenes, Valencienne enters the busy Camille&rsquo;s office and teases him by snatching away the various pieces of paper he&rsquo;s reading. Unable to concentrate, Camille sweeps up his lover and drags her across his desk. The duet that follows vacillates between the coy and the uncontained as the woman trots like a horse while Camille kisses her hand, or resists his advances. In the end, the pair falls into each other&rsquo;s arms with abandon&hellip;only to be observed by a hidden spy.<br /><br />Both River North Dance Chicago and the Joffrey Ballet stoke the flames of passion through timeless stories and provocative movement. A perfect way to celebrate Valentine&rsquo;s Day.</p><p><em>DJ M. Sylvia Music Button: Jesse Rose, &quot;You Know It&quot;, Welcome to the Future 2010 (ID&amp;T)</em></p></p> Fri, 11 Feb 2011 15:08:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-11/love-air-and-so-dance-82162