Left St. Louis for 0Chicago accompanied by Flor to enjoy a fascinating city and to see dance, a lot of dance.
Wednesday, upon arrival, we headed to theMuseum of Contemporary Art where Lucky Plush was premiering a new work co-directed and co-created by Julia Rhoads and Leslie Buxbaum Danzig. I am a fan of Julia’s work. As Flor asked when it was over, “Is that really dance?” I answered yes. It was a fascinating work where movement simply happened and fore told various different episodes. The time spent there went by fast. In typical Lucky Plush style we either laughing or thinking where was this going. Having been an early show we went looking for something to eat and was surprised to see how early the restaurants closed on a Thursday night in Chicago. I guess I will not complain about St. Louis again.
Friday had us going to the Arts Institute for a couple of hours before attending a charming event with Dance Works Chicago and the Chicago Symphony. A beautifully conceived educational program that showcased the instruments of the orchestra through dance. Beautifully conceived and choreograph by Christian Spuck, German choreographer that I was unaware of and is taking over the Zurich Ballet. Certainly someone to follow. The dancers performed with great charm and artistry. I was thrilled to see what Julie Nakagawa and Andreas Bottcher, directors of Dance Works Chicago, have accomplished in just 5 short years.
By six we had a wonderful dinner with Gail Kalver, Executive Director of River North and were joined by Randy Swartz and his wife Lara from Dance Affiliates in Philadelphia, Liz Silverstein and one of her associates from Siegel Artists Management, and Julie and Andreas. Great conversation, laughter and good food was shared by all and we amused at the fact that Randy’s birthday was that day and mine the following. We were treated to scrumptious chocolate cake and ice cream with, thank heaven, one candle.
Dinner over we walked across to the Harris Theatre to see the performance of River North Dance Chicago. Always topnotch with dancers fully committed to the movement and the ideas behind it though I felt the program was not up to their higher standards of creativity. Good opening with an existing work but followed by a solo from a larger work that by itself did not stand up to the power that it usually generates. Hann Brictson danced it powerfully but as I said, did not come across as it usually does when performed as part of the complete work. The following work saw them static like manipulating balls. They did not drop them though we all wished they had. It was a work that appeals to some people but I founded somewhat contrite. The premiere of Al Sur del Sur, choreographed by two competitive tango dancers and using some of Piazzolla’s music left me unmoved, uninvolved and worst of all unconcerned. It was not real tango, it was not a dance work inspired by tango it simply was nowhere. Dancers looked and tried hard to look sexy and sensual. Having said this, the audience appreciated the work.
The best work of the evening was by Daniel Ezralow, it was an older work from their repertory that showed the incredible versatility of the dancers and their obvious talent to command the stage and sink their teeth into meatier works. A solo of Frank Chavez followed with control beauty though I have liked others he has done better. The final work, a premiere by Frank Chavez to Miles Davis music called Simply Miles, Simply Us meander back and forth and lacked that inner passion and that drive I have learned to love in Franks work,
The following day, having before spent an afternoon at the museums, we wondered the streets of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. Some shopping was done and we wanted to eat at a famous pizzeria that had an hour wait. No Pizza is worth an hour of my time. So back to the hotel for a little nap and then off to see a performance of Dance Works Chicago at the Ruth Page Dance Center. A small black box theatre made us once again admire this incredible company of six dancers that perform with complete control and commitment a variety of good works. The company is conceived as a training ground for young professionals, no one can stay longer than two years, after that they have to move on to another company. Seeing their dancers perform I doubt any of them will have a problem finding a job. They moved from physical dance, to dramatic dancing to comedy with no problem Kudos to Julie and Andreas.
Over at seven we rushed, with Randy and Lara, to the Auditorium Theatre where we had been invited to view Rasta Thoma’s Bad Boys of Dance. A company conceived to break barriers where physicality is the order of the day. Six male dancers and one woman romp for an hour and a half through a various popular music scores turning, leaping, splitting, Like Rasta himself says, Like You Think You Can Dance with pointed fee and technique.
The audience loved them, there was nothing not to like. Was it an artistic endeavor? No! But fun to see.
Late dinner, early rising and back on the CTA to O’hare airport and our American Airlines flight to St. Louis. Overall a most productive and fun time had by all.
My next journey, to New York to celebrate an honor bestowed on a friend of mine and then catching a plane to Tel Aviv where I have been invited to attend a dance festival of Israeli companies. It should be exciting.
Love and peace,