Coming at the tail end of National Dance Week, Inaside Chicago Dance (ICD)* takes the stage at the Athenaeum Theatre for its annual spring concert this Saturday. The one-night-only performance features seven works from a number of choreographers including three from Artistic Director Richard Smith. A little contemporary, some swing, a lot of jazz and tons of personality. You will be hard pressed to find a more energetic and enthusiastic group of dancers. The three ideals that go into the Inaside name and mission are integrity, passion and pride. Smith has passion tenfold – for life, for dance and particularly for jazz. “Jazz is totally a giver,” he said. “It deals with real, human topics. You’re going to leave the theater feeling better than when you came in.” He admits jazz has gotten a bad rap as of late and is looking to steer the company into the future of jazz. “I feel like jazz is the bastard stepchild of the dance world. When people hear jazz, they think jazz music and jazz hands.” His ambitious goal is to redefine the word and define Inaside as a contemporary jazz dance company by focusing on creating different approaches to traditional movement and progressing the vocabulary by challenging the dancer’s center of gravity with an asymmetrical approach. Wherever contemporary jazz is going, he wants Inaside to be leading the way.
Saturday, Smith has three of his works on the program. When No Means Maybe (2010), a full-company piece with a Southern backwoods feel about strong-willed women (“I’m surrounded by them,” he laughs.); an excerpt from his 2011 work More Than A Conqueror, which he will continue to expand; and his newest work, The Sides of Every Story, a trio questioning truth. “There are three sides to every story,” Smith said. “The right side, the wrong side and the truth in the middle, but it doesn’t know it’s in the middle.” Other pieces in the show include a swing dance extravaganza choreographed last season by Harrison McEldowney and Tony Savino, Mink, Jazz, and Swing: Dancing to the music of Miss Peggy Lee; Eddy O’Campo’s The Alarm Will Sound from 2008; a full-company contemporary work by choreographer Sinead Gildea titled capsule; and a piece by work/study intern and ICD performing apprentice Courtney Kozlowski that received the most votes at the company’s recent Choreographic Sponsorship Event. The fast-paced seven-number program is sure to entertain. As Smith said, “Just show up. We’ll do the rest.”
Inaside Chicago Dance, Saturday, April 28th at 8 p.m., Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave. Tickets are $30. Call 773.935.6860.
*RB previously served on Inaside’s board of directors.