This Saturday, March 12th, for a one-night-only show, Luna Negra Dance Theater is presenting a trio of works at the Harris Theater: two North American premieres and a revival by Artistic Director Gustavo Ramírez Sansano. Flabbergast, Sansano’s work, commissioned by former Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro in 2001, makes its way back to the company, with additions and changes, some ten years later. A fun, upbeat romp with a Latin flair, Flabbergast has the dancers singing, acting and flirting, while joyfully dancing as they portray what it’s like to be in a new culture for the first time. As the show closer, it pretty much guarantees the audience will leave the theater in a good mood.
Another upbeat piece by Venezuelan choreographer Luis Eduardo Sayago Alonso, about the search for the perfect mate and taking the plunge into marriage, makes a U.S. debut. Complete with odd props including oranges, a juicer and a chalk board, Solo una Vez (which means “only one time”) offers a witty turn about matters of the heart. The other North American premiere is Naked Ape by Spanish choreographer and NDT dancer Fernando Hernando Magadan. Originally created in 2009 for the TODAYSART Festival, an outdoor art extravaganza at The Hague, Ape started with the concept of conflict and tackles the struggle we have between instinct and logic while living in a technologically enhanced world. Magadan collaborated with multi-media artist Harmen Straatman, who created free-standing clothing sculptures equipped with light and sound sensors inside for the dancers to interact with throughout the piece. “The stage is not just a place to put a dancer to move,” Magadan exlpains during a Meet the Artists event at Instituto Cervantes. “It becomes a world out of itself, like Alice in Wonderland.” He was also impressed with the Luna Negra dancers. “It was a beautiful challenge to rework it with different dancers,” he says. “They were so willing to contribute…so professional and devoted.”
After receiving a standing ovation for the outstanding program last fall, Ramírez Sansano has set high expectations. Undaunted, he just wants to continue to show a new side to the company. “There’s a lot of things I want to show to the city of Chicago,” he says. So, how does a unique program like this come together? “They have to call my attention,” he says from rehearsal and a run-through of part of the show. “I have to see them in a place inside of the show. For me they have to be good pieces by themselves, but somehow connect to each other. I saw Solo una Vez, then I decided on Naked Ape because I thought it was a good contrast. We start with a clean and more classical aesthetic and then you have…a more avant garde movement and concept. Then Flabbergast has the Latin flavor, like something that could’ve been from 40 years ago, but is contemporary.” And what is his vision for the future of Luna Negra? “I would dream that every time you come see Luna Negra that it’s a surprise. Every kind of show has a different color. You know that it’s dance. You know that it’s Latin and Luna Nueva is more avant garde and Luna Niña is for kids and you can still go to all of them. As an audience member, what do I want to see? Unless it’s a great, great piece, you don’t want to see it every year. You don’t want to repeat and repeat the same thing. You want to search for more good.”
Harris Theater, Saturday, March 12 at 8:00 pm
Tickets: 312.334.7777 or harristheaterchicago.org