Category Archives: Dance Review

Burlesque and Comedy: Kiss Kiss Cabaret at The Den Theatre (Through December 29, 2018)

On September 11th, Uptown Underground closed its doors due to a dispute with the landlord. Thus, Kiss Kiss Cabaret was forced on hiatus until it could find a new space. They have signed on to call The Den Theatre home until at least the end of the year.

The show is different every night and thus the experience is different each time. Tonight is hosted by MsPixy who is an amusing host. She introduces each performer with genuine enthusiasm and then afterwards joy is clearly visible in her reaction. She also sings “Cabaret” midway through the show to the audience’s delight.

There is just one comedy performance tonight. It is by Velma Claptrap. She sings a song that is like the 12 Days of Christmas, but about a pussy ‘cat’, double entendre intended. The crowd eats it up.

Tonight’s lineup of burlesque consists of Vivi Valens, Elle Rioux, Crème Yvette, Faye LaVerte, and Aurora Rocket. Here are the three highlights of the night:

Elle Rioux closes the first half dancing to “The Girl’s Attractive”. Her passion and dedication to the art of burlesque is reflected in her performance as each movement is perfectly crafted to align with the music. It’s an audience favorite!”

Faye LaVerte dances to “Son of a Preacher Man” in an ironic and devilishly delightful fashion.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Photos by Kyle Bice

Aurora Rocket dances to “It’s My Party” in a very funny piece where she starts off very sad, but eventually cheers up!

They are finalizing some new group acts, choreographed specifically to take advantage of the Den Theater’s layout, that will debut this week! Also, at 7pm and 7:30pm, this is a rare opportunity to see burlesque before 10pm in Chicago.

Get tickets now for Kiss Kiss Cabaret through December 29th at the Den Theatre!

Cost of a ticket: $27
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It!
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

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So You Think You Can Dance Live 2018 at the Chicago Theatre (October 29, 2018)

Just like on the TV show, So You Think You Can Dance, the dances are flashy, energetic, and athletic. However, also like the show, the dances are very short. When you start getting into a dance after about a minute, it ends and the next song begins. It’s like eating a bunch of candy for dinner. It’s short and sweet, but it’s not a full meal. For the younger fans with shorter attention spans, this is just right. For adults looking for more depth, it won’t be found here.

Get tickets now for the rest of tour through December 9th.

Quinn Delaney

Mass Appeal! Giordano Dance Fall Series at the Harris Theatre (October 26, 2018)

Sidecar (2004)

Choreography: Mark Swanhart

In this piece, one male dancer is chasing after the girl he desires as “Only You (And You Alone)” plays. Other girls come to him, but he just throws them aside. It’s a very fun and playful dance and a great way to open the night.

Loose Cannon (2006)

Choreography: Jon Lehrer

The performers are all dancing in their white underwear. The music is beautiful and it feels like a dream. To match the classical music, they use many ballet moves showcasing their talents in another genre. Some humor is thrown in as well adding to its light touch.

JOLT (2012)

Choreography: Autumn Eckman

All the dancers are excitedly drinking out of mugs. What are they drinking? Alcohol, coffee, or maybe Jolt Cola? It gives them all a boost of energy and they proceed to dance very frenetically. At one point, they run across the stage in a single file line towards a light offstage. It’s a great visual as the bright white light contrasts with their black outfits.

SOUL (World Premire)

Choreography: Ray Leeper (So You Think You Can Dance)

Music: Tina Turner – Proud Mary

 

This piece is fun, soulful and energetic, just like Ray Leeper’s work on So You Think You Can Dance. (By the way, check back in a few days to see our review of So You Think You Can Dance Live). It has mass appeal and truly matches the spirit of this iconic song. After the curtain call, the dancers come out and dance in the aisles in a great immersive finale.

Cost of a ticket: $65
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It!

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Catch Giordano Dance back at the Harris Theatre on March 22 and 23 in 2019!

Quinn Delaney

Artistic! Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Fall Series at Harris Theatre (September 29, 2018)

There Was Nothing – Choreographed by Movement Art Is (Jon Boogz & Lil Buck)

There was Nothing

9/26/18 4:29:38 PM Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Fall Series Technical rehearsal of THERE WAS NOTHING Jon Boogz and Lil Buck Movement Art It Is Third Coast Percussion © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2018

This piece features original poetry written and performed by Robin Sanders. “Before the planets, stars, or being, there was nothing. Until the trinity, oxygen, fuel, and heat.” It goes on to describe the creation of earth, humans, and the intertwined and complex relationship between the two in a very artistic style. As this recording plays, the dancers perform these concepts in expert fashion and fluid movement.  It’s an especially memorable moment as the dancers portray five stages of the development of man into a being standing straight up on two feet.

Third Coast Percussion create a very moody sound that is ideal for a tensely dramatic scene. For the first piece, it works perfectly. However, 80 minutes straight of this music without melody is difficult to take. Add to that fact that there is no intermission, and it’s a true test of the attention span of the audience for an art form that demands ones undivided mental and emotional presence.

There was Nothing

9/26/18 4:37:21 PM Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Fall Series Technical rehearsal of THERE WAS NOTHING Jon Boogz and Lil Buck Movement Art It Is Third Coast Percussion © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2018

Cost of a ticket: $110

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Half Price

New Rating Scale:

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There was Nothing

9/26/18 4:43:33 PM Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Fall Series Technical rehearsal of THERE WAS NOTHING Jon Boogz and Lil Buck Movement Art It Is Third Coast Percussion © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2018

See our review of a Lil’ Buck performance here.

Quinn Delaney

Delightful! Harvest Chicago Contemporary Dance Festival at Ruth Page Center for the Arts (September 28, 2018)

The Harvest Chicago Contemporary Dance Festival takes place over two weekends at the end of September at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts. 16 dance groups perform during the festival. Here is a selection of the best performances from the second weekend.

Aerial Dance Chicago – Blackbird (excerpt)

Aerial Dance Chicago by Michelle Reid

Two pairs of silks hang from the ceiling. The aerialists use these to swing across the stage, climb to the ceiling, and flip upside down. It’s an impressive display of athleticism and grace. On an interesting note, when Ok Go needed to find dancers for their video “Upside Down & Inside Out”, they needed performers who could move in zero gravity. So, they chose aerialists who are used to moving their bodies in the air.

james morrow /  The Movement  – / /

James Morrow 1 by Sara Davis

This solo performance is raw. The Lord’s prayer is being recited as Morrow moves across the stage. He is exploring his relationship with both his Christian upbringing and the Chicago House community in a truly emotional fashion.

MitchellMovement & DancersOut of Pocket

This one is absolutely hilarious. It begins with four dancers portraying slot machines with the sounds of a casino playing. Later on they play “Money, Money, Money” by ABBA as they throw money around the stage. The audience is absolutely delighted. Lastly, “Money” featuring Alan Cumming and the Cabaret Ensemble from the 1998 Broadway Cast Recording plays as they dance around the stage to complete this medley of money related dances. It’s not easy to make dance funny, but this group pulls it off with style.

See our post about the first weekend here.

Cost of a ticket: $25
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It!

New Rating Scale:
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Quinn Delaney

Exceptional! Harvest Chicago Contemporary Dance Festival at Ruth Page Center for the Arts (September 22, 2018)

The Harvest Chicago Contemporary Dance Festival takes place over two weekends at the end of September at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts. 16 dance groups perform during the festival. Here is a selection of the best performances from the first weekend.

Jessica Miller Tomlinson Choreography – Speak to Me Only with Your Eyes

It’s ambitious to choose Led Zeppelin songs for a dance performance. Jessica Miller Tomlinson’s company is up to the task as the dancing matches the beauty of the music. First is Friends as a couple joyfully plays along with each other. More great dancing follows while Black Country Woman plays. Finally, a couple does a version of ballroom dancing with a modern twist during The Rain Song.

Theresa Bautista – I am a Pretty Girl

This is a piece with a message. It’s about a pretty girl who gets harassed everywhere she goes. A spoken word poem plays as Bautista dances out the strong emotions described.

 

Eric Mullis – Sherman’s Neckties

A dancer appears on stage in silence. Suddenly, a man plays a very bizarre and strange sound from behind the audience. It’s unexpected and causes many to jump in their seats. The odd sounds continue and several people laugh at the noises being created by a saxophone. At the same time, the dancer is making unique movements across the stage. It’s definitely the most memorable performance of the night.

 

Giordano II – Late Night Tales

Giordano II by Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth

Giordano Dance Company consistently puts on fantastic performances. This one is no exception as it is filled with skillful dancing and expert choreography by Joshua Blake Carter. See our many reviews of this exceptional company .

 

RE|dance group – The Biggest Wail From The Bottom Of My Heart

Just like their previous show, , this one is full of joy. The dancers move in synergy as they alternate lifting one another with delight. They bound around the stage with glee as the audience wishes they could go up on stage and join in the fun. It is a fantastic way to end the show as everyone leaves with a smile on their face.

Get tickets now for the last weekend of Harvest Chicago Contemporary Dance Festival!

Cost of a ticket: $25
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Exceptional Value!

New Rating Scale:
Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Exceptional! Dance for Life 2018 featuring The Joffrey Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and more at the Auditorium Theatre (August 18, 2018)

Dance for Life is a fantastic event that brings together the best Chicago dance companies and the best dance audience. The proceeds go to the Dancers’ Fund, which provides financial assistance to dance community professionals in their time of need due to a medical issue. It’s a celebration of the dance community and its ability to care for its own. Here is a selection of some of the best performances:

Chicago Dance Crash – Freshly Served (2018) – Structured by Jessica Deahr

Crash3Ashley Deran

This performance is intense. It’s a structured freestyle. Thus, the dancers improvise within time and space restrictions and feed off the energy of the music and the audience. It doesn’t take long before everyone is clapping and the break dancing energy rises. On multiple occasions, the dancers pull of impressive feats that are met with gasps from the crowd. It’s modern and it’s fresh and it fits in perfectly on this night.

 

Giordano Dance Chicago – Tossed Around (2017) – Choreography: Ray Mercer

TossedAround1

Before the performance, Nan Giordano is honored with a type of lifetime achievement award, a new thing this year. She humbly accepts as she thanks the Chicago dance community for all the help.

The performance begins with all the dancers sitting in chairs in a circle facing the center. They begin tossing each other around and moving about like a crazy game of musical chairs / duck duck goose. The movement is intoxicating and showcases the talents of this great company.

The Joffrey Ballet – Body of Your Dreams (2016) – Choreography: Myles Thatcher

12_Body of Your Dreams_The Joffrey Ballet_Photo by Cheryl Mann

The music for this piece uses a bunch of infomercials about fitness programs cut and pasted together in an electronic sounding piece. The dancers are wearing outfits that are a mix of workout clothes and tight ballet outfits while performing a mix of those two styles of movement. While at first it seems to be a form of pop art and fun look at exercise, it turns into a critical look at the current fitness industry. Within the Modern Masters program by The Joffrey back in February, it seemed a bit out of place, but it fits very well into tonight’s show.

 

Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre – Excerpts from Between Us (2016) – Choreography by Sherry Zunker

BetweenUs2_171021

In this piece, the dancers are joined by live musicians on stage playing a soprano sax and a violin. The musicians are involved in the choreography as they move across the stage. At one point, it even seems like the sax player is a snake charmer controlling the dancers with his music.  It’s a very interesting mix of musicians and dancers that really shows how closely they interact.

 

Hanna Brictson and Dancers – My Darling (2017) – Choreography – Hanna Brictson

41 dancers take the stage wearing all red with white suspenders as “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers begins to play. They all move in unison in perfect sync with the music in the largest group of the night. When the song reaches a climax, so does the dancing. It’s a perfect match that is met with thunderous applause at its conclusion.

 

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago – The 40s (1978) – Choreography: Lou Conte

The 40s displays the joy in America after World War II ended.  “Opus Number One”, as performed by Ralph Burns, starts and the full company dances happily out on to the stage with jazz hands waving. The song has that big band feel and swing is incorporated into the piece with a lot of twirls. Alicia Delgadillo stands out displaying a big ball of energy and enthusiasm. Lou Conte, the founder of Hubbard Street Dance, has remounted this piece expertly and it exhibits the best of this troupe. What a joyful way to end the night!

Quinn Delaney

 

Cost of a ticket: $75

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It

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