Dance Chicago 2005 Opening weekend Review:
November 10, 2005
Over the weekend, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater celebrated its 10th anniversary at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, and Dance Chicago -- a large-scale festival of local choreography now in its 11th year -- opened at the Athenaeum Theatre. Both events, though unrelated, exhibited firm professional growth in their artistry, programming and pacing.
Maturity, depth and smooth transitions characterized the opening of Dance Chicago. The sampling of artists participating in the monthlong festival was diverse but not wildly eclectic. But as a whole, the modern, tap, jazz and balletic choreography took some provocative chances.
Lauri Stallings, a former Hubbard Street Dance Chicago ensemble member now forging a career as an independent choreographer, continues to take movement to the unexpected outer limits. In "ahimsa," her world premiere for River North Chicago Dance Company -- part of Dance Chicago's Choreography Project -- she tears down the scenery to expose the stark backstage area. With an equally raw abandon, the dancers -- in Tara Swadley's tawdry-swank costumes -- appear driven by an unseen, ominous force. The choreography inverts the bump-and-grind of Bob Fosse's style and transforms it into an out-of-control locomotive of bodies charging through life's unpredictable entanglements.
Other standouts included the local improvisational tap group M.A.D.D. Rhythms; Frank Chaves' unconventional odyssey with folding chairs, "Take a Seat," for River North; and Stallings' non-linear "in the belly of grace," featuring dancers (such as flawless technician Calvin Kitten from the Joffrey Ballet) and Luna Negra Dance Theater.