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What's harder on inspiration than a commission? I'd say it's a commission intended to honor a stodgy occasion built around an arguably ahistorical date. Commissioned by Ravinia Festival to commemorate the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, Bill T. Jones's ruminative Fondly Do We Hope. . .Fervently Do We Pray arrived this week, saddled with expectations big enough to suffocate it. At its premiere last night it proved to be more Walt Whitman than Lincoln and more vocal performance than dance: a dreamy piece of performance art with a dose of A Chorus Line, whose most dramatic moment is provided by video and text. It’s sprawling and uneven, but whenever it trots out Walt, it’s great.
Fondly Do We Hope. . .Fervently Do We Pray will be performed again Sat 9/19, 8 PM, Ravinia Festival, pavilion, Green Bay and Lake Cook Rds., Highland Park, 847-266-5100,ravinia.org, $25-$65, lawn $10.