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Big Muddy’s ‘Lemp Legends’ leans into St. Louis folklore—and pandemic dance making

By on November 24, 2020

ST. LOUIS—When the Big Muddy Dance Company made Lemp Legends for the Edison Theatre in 2018, I would bet, dollars to donuts, they expected to remount it at some point. What they likely didn’t expect was a re-imagination quite like this. Lemp Legends marks many firsts for Big Muddy. It was their first full-length work […]

Rebecca Rego channels Lucia Berlin in new album, ‘Songs for Cleaning Women, Part 1’

By on November 21, 2020

CHICAGO—So far, Eighth Blackbird’s attempts at live-streaming a virtual concert series from their production house in Horner Park have not gone well. The series—called Chicago Artists Workshop, or CAW for short (get it? CAW? Like a bird?)—was set to open Oct. 20 with the ensemble’s Grammy Award-winning co-founders Lisa Kaplan and Matthew Duvall accompanying tenor Karim […]

When life imitates art: George Floyd, RBG and ‘We’re Gonna Die’

By on October 5, 2020

Ten minutes before the scheduled virtual opening of Theatre Y’s “We’re Gonna Die,” I heard that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died. I didn’t want to go, even though all that it required of me was to click a Zoom link and log-in. No shoes, no parking, no awkward lobby mingling. These are the luxuries of digitized […]

Before you ask your adjuncts to teach online this fall, prepare to pay them this summer

By on April 15, 2020

Universities’ quick action—abruptly closing campuses in March as a necessary response to COVID-19’s rapid spread across the United States—understandably resulted in a sloppy transition to distance learning. Most faculty had less than three weeks to get up and running and reimagine their courses online. The standard right now is not how to do this well, […]

Moving is important. What if we took the hint, and actually paused?

By on March 26, 2020

NORMAL, IL—My feed is filled with virtual dance classes and obituaries. As COVID-19 continues to tear through this country and redefine ways of life, indefinitely, I find myself busier than ever. It shouldn’t be this way. I spend the majority of my time watching and writing about dance. Now, there are no shows to write […]

Beyond ‘Sleeping Beauty,’ new film takes a deeper dive on Petipa

By on March 8, 2020

Icarus Films—the independent film producer that has created documentaries on Ohad Naharin, Pina Bausch and Trisha Brown—has a new dance film making its way to your laptops and living rooms. Marius Petipa: The French Master of Russian Ballet is currently available for use by academic institutions and libraries, and will be released on home video […]

Illinois Symphony hits all the right notes—and there were a lot of them—in V-Day program

By on February 16, 2020

BLOOMINGTON, IL—Love was in the air at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts Friday, which had big pink hearts projected onto the Illinois Symphony’s white bandshell set onstage. Indeed, many couples braved frigid temperatures and icy roads for this Valentine’s Day engagement called Love Notes, with the ISO offering a smattering of compositions from […]

‘An American in Paris’ at Drury Lane has all the movie magic of the original

By on February 8, 2020

OAKBROOK TERRACE, IL—The band was inconsistent. So was some of the tap dancing, and a couple actors’ French accents sounded, well, more like German. If that sounds harsh, it’s because I wanted to get those things out of the way; they’re the only negative things I can say about “An American in Paris,” playing through […]

Illinois Symphony features soloists from among its ranks in intimate ‘Magnificent Mozart’

By on January 26, 2020

BLOOMINGTON, IL–As Maestro Ken Lam announced what he called the “main dish” of a three-course musical meal Saturday at Bloomington’s Second Presbyterian Church, musicians adjusted their chairs to make way for their colleagues near Lam’s podium. As the evening’s soloists, Illinois Symphony Orchestra (ISO) concertmaster Roy Meyer and principal viola Nicholas Jeffery took their places […]

Big Muddy’s minimalist, modern day ‘Christmas Carol’ aims to forge a path for a Dickensian dance tradition

By on November 16, 2019

ST. LOUIS–It’s only been a week since the inaugural Big Muddy Dance Festival, and The Big Muddy Dance Company, who produced the expo, performances and workshop series in locations all over Grand Center, only just finished “Such Sweet Thunder” in October. “Such Sweet Thunder” was a collaborative effort with Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, Jazz St. Louis, and […]

Dance weaves a thread through 2019 Chicago International Film Festival

By on October 25, 2019

CHICAGO—A triptych of films screened Thursday to Sunday, collectively marketed under the header In Focus: Dance, forms an anchor point of the 2019 Chicago International Film Festival, North America’s longest-running competitive film festival. The films—director Levan Akin’s And Then We Danced, Isadora’s Children, directed by Damien Manivel, and Cunningham, a documentary on Merce Cunningham directed […]

Second ‘Evening of Ballet Stars’ a mix of contemporary and classic pas de deux

By on October 4, 2019

ST. LOUIS—With their second edition of “An Evening of Ballet Stars,” Dance St. Louis aimed to find out if lighting does, indeed, strike twice in the same place. Last year’s inaugural program featuring prominent principal dancers at Washington University played to a sold out crowd; on Sept. 28, the Edison Theatre was likewise heartily filled […]

Life is neither good nor bad—Ravinia’s first full-length ‘Candide,’ however, was very good

By on August 30, 2019

HIGHLAND PARK, IL—My last trip to the Ravinia Festival was on opening week in early June. It was unseasonably cold and blustery; wind whipped picnic blankets and napkins about. I regretted not bringing a parka. Summer weather was slow to start, and the outdoor oasis’ box office inevitably took a hit during a season that started with […]

At Physical Theater Festival, Aura CuriAtlas’s acrobats act out Steven Hawking’s story

By on June 13, 2019

CHICAGO — Two festivals which ran simultaneously this month — the Pivot Arts Festival in Uptown and Edgewater and the Physical Theater Festival in Lakeview — have more in common than their North side roots. Each is a veritable grab bag of contemporary performances from Chicago and beyond, many of which defy categorization. The Physical […]

First weekend of Pivot Arts Fest challenges Euro-centrism with multidisciplinary forays

By on June 8, 2019

CHICAGO — Summer is just beginning, and Chicago is itching to hit the beach. Last Sunday was sunny, but deceptively cold. The chill in the air didn’t stop a couple of brave bathers from sunning themselves at Thorndale Beach anyway, conspicuously opting in — perhaps unwillingly — to the end of Ayako Kato’s newest work, […]

Tap bookends ballet and Hubbard Street in 2019 Spring to Dance finale

By on May 26, 2019

ST. LOUIS, MO — On National Tap Dance Day, tappers opened and closed the final evening of Spring to Dance, capping three full days of performances at the Touhill Performing Arts Center. The night began with MoSTLy TAP, a local company started in 2017, and ended with Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP), which celebrates its 30th […]

Musical monotony needn’t be the rule, but at Spring to Dance, it’s a trend

By on May 25, 2019

ST. LOUIS, MO — It’s not a new trend. Contemporary dance has shared a kinship with minimalistic music for decades. As an undergraduate dance major around the turn of the century, I too was smitten by composers like Arvo Part and Philip Glass — I mean, there’s something intriguing about musical maps which are beholden […]

Contemporary is king on first night of Spring to Dance

By on May 24, 2019

ST. LOUIS, MO — With nightly performances through Saturday at the Touhill Performing Arts Center, the annual Spring to Dance festival is slowly building to a boil, spending much of its first day of programming firmly locked into contemporary dance. You had to make it to the end to see anything else, with the second […]

International dancewear brand Wear Moi finds a home in Chicago

By on May 14, 2019

CHICAGO — Since its humble beginnings in 1992, husband and wife business owners Christophe Ridet and Elisabeth Miegge-Ridet built their line of dance apparel called Wear Moi, going from custom orders made on a single sewing machine to an in-demand international brand sold in 60 countries at more than 700 retailers. For the Ridets, the next logical step was to plant […]

Opposites attract in Hedwig’s ‘Sea Level’ at Ruth Page

By on March 22, 2019

CHICAGO — The two pieces which make up Hedwig Dances’s spring series are positioned as opposites. The evening, called Sea Level: Above and Below, boasts world premieres by company members Taimy Ramos and Rigoberto Saura. It’s an apt juxtaposition: the murky groundedness of Ramos’s “A Flor de Piel” gives a sense of the dark abyss beneath […]

Saturday at the Epic Center: Beware the dance echo chamber — come to RAD Fest

By on March 10, 2019

KALAMAZOO, MI — In 2017, Fox News dropped the slogan “Fair and Balanced.” They claimed it was because the motto had been written by its dismissed chairman Roger Ailes, swapping the phrase for “Most Watched, Most Trusted.” Whatever you think about Fox News, the change certainly provides a more accurate picture of the network’s essence. […]

RAD Fest’s first night of short works puts American gender and race politics front and center

By on March 9, 2019

KALAMAZOO, MI — Two rows of chairs form a semi-circle around a projection screen hung at the front of the Judy Joliffe Theater. A third ring of audience members stands behind these chairs. On the screen, a video flashes footage of current events – the Women’s March and various other protests, and the Access Hollywood […]

Long works program a rare chance to see festival dances breathe

By on March 8, 2019

KALAMAZOO, MI — It is often the case that the dance festival setting provides a broad, but shallow view of an artist’s work. It’s an understandably impossible conundrum; festival organizers throughout the country want to bring as much variety as they can to audiences, and offer opportunities to as many artists as possible. In coming […]

Company Wayne McGregor’s ‘Autobiography’ asks big questions and plays in extremes — but it’s minimalism

By on March 8, 2019

ST. LOUIS, MO — It’s become easier than ever to learn about ourselves, with mail-in genome readers like 23andMe and Ancestry.com giving you more information than you might ever need to know about your health, family and cultural background based on a swab of saliva. But what does one do with such powerful information? Knowing […]

Tragedy yields sonic ecstasy: CSO debuts Schuman’s 9th with Mozart ‘Requiem’

By on February 24, 2019

CHICAGO — William Howard Schuman wrote Le fosse Ardeatine in 1968. Schuman, an American composer, created his 9th symphony (of 10) to commemorate the March 24, 1944 mass murder of 335 Italians by German troops at the Ardeatine Caves outside Rome. Opening a Feb. 21-23 program at Symphony Center, this weekend’s performances of Schuman’s Symphony no. 9 are the […]