Tonight was the Chicago Dancing Festival‘s (CDF) Moderns program at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. The packed house was ready for a great show and CDF didn’t disappoint. Opening with Aspen Santa Fe Ballet‘s commissioned work by Spanish choreographer Cayetano Soto Uneven (2010) set the bar high. There was nothing uneven about it. The local audience (and Hubbard St fans) might have noticed some hints of Nacho Duato, Ohad Naharin and Jirí Kylían in this work, as Soto performed some of their works as a dancer. It obviously had a very contemporary European flavor and the ASFB dancers were on top of their game tonight (although it looked like the floor was slippery) as cellist Kimberly Patterson played live on stage.
River North Dance Chicago followed up with Charles Moulton’s Nine Person Precision Ball Passing (1980). I sat in on rehearsals last week after the company spent two days learning it. This speedy coordination game drew giggles and then awe as the dancers kept the balls in sequence for the seven-minute duration. The program notes call it “community art in the form of a living Rubik’s Cube” and that mistakes are inevitable. Leave it to the perfectionists at Rivno to not make a mistake. Doug Varone and Dancers finished up the first act with Varone’s Lux (2006). I really enjoyed this piece. I hadn’t seen Varone’s work or company before and wasn’t sure what to expect. When the announcer said it was set to the music of Philip Glass, the two ladies next to me said, “oh”. I’m not sure if it was meant to be good or bad, but it turned out (for me) to be good. The dancers’ movement quality was luscious and it just looked like it would be fun to dance. With a slowly rising moon on the back drop center stage, it was like a midnight frolic in the moonlight.
Adam Barruch‘s solo Worst Pies in London (2008) opened the second act. Set to music of the same name from Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, this was really duet between Barruch and Angela Lansbury singing the vocals on track. Short, sweet and funny, Barruch looked like a young Jim Carrey with rubbery facial expressions and the flexible body to match. Closing the show was Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (HSDC) performing Sharon Eyal’s Too Beaucoup (2011). This was one of my favorite works from their last season. Androgynously clad in flesh-toned body suits with white make up, wigs and contacts, the dancers look like a group of aliens that stumbled upon a mixed cd from earth and decided to have a dance party. Weird, kooky, cool. A fun, entertaining evening. The appreciative audience agreed.