Category Archives: Dance Review

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

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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

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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!

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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

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A Celebration of Dance! Giordano Dance Chicago at Auditorium Theatre (June 9, 2018)

Giordano Moves – 2005 – reconstructed in 2017

This piece is pure jazz dance. It is expertly choreographed by the founder, Gus Giordano, and restaged by his daughter, Nan Giordano. Just like the original music by George McRae, it’s a mix of many people dancing at once and spotlighted solos. And just like at a jazz concert, the solos are followed by a loud applause by the audience. The dancing is incredibly expressive and it’s a great showcase of this company’s talent.

Feelin’ Good Sweet – 2014

Choreographer: Ray Leeper

To start the second half, Feeling Good by Michael Buble plays as the dancers move slowly around the stage. The lyrics slowly build: “It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life, for me. And I’m feeling good!” Then, the band comes in on the recording and the dancers burst to life. It’s an expertly choreographed dance to the song and the crowd goes wild. It’s an incredibly exciting performance and it’s a surprise that it is only taking place this night. It could surely sell out a week of a shows!

Wings – 1978

Choreographer: Gus Giordano

Giordano Wings (4)

The curtain rises and a gospel choir, The Bourne Family, is on the stage in all white. Shortly afterwards, Cesar G. Salinas dances onto the stage. Salinas retired from dancing eight years ago, but he agreed to return for this performance in honor of Nan Giordano marking 25 years as the Artistic Director of GDC. Despite this long break from performing, he danced as if he was in the prime of his career and the audience responded with thunderous applause. It was both a celebration of Nan Giordano and a celebration of dance itself.

Tossed Around

Catch Giordano Dance Chicago next at Dance For Life 2018 on August 18!

Quinn Delaney

Beautiful! Trifecta Dance Collective Presents In.Grained at Vittum Theatre (June 2, 2018)

Three elderly women, Mary Cox, Jeri Grein, and Donna Hennessey sit on the right side of the stage. To begin, they each stand up one after another to tell the story of their childhood. While they are telling their stories, music plays and dancers interpret their tales into movement. It’s a unique and great exploration of growing up in the 1940s during World War II.

Next, they all tell the stories of meeting their husbands and the courtship that followed. Even though this happened over 50 years ago, each of them lights up as they tell their tales. This was also reflected in the joyful dancing taking place with captures their excitement.

Lastly, the women talk about losing their husbands. It’s very emotional. They all talk about seeing signs afterwards that their husbands were saying everything was going to be alright such as a twinkling star or a seat number having special significance. The dancing truly captures the sense of loss and also the acceptance. Deek Buckins and Felicity Lyon Nicholson’s were exceptionally fantastic.

It all tied together beautifully. Don’t miss In.Grained November 9th at The Glen Club!

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Quinn Delaney