Alyo Children's Dance Theatre | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Alyo Children's Dance Theatre

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I have this idea that dancing builds character: in a kind of paradigm of social organization, the dancer must assert herself yet be constantly aware of others. And nowhere is this more true than in African dance, where shifts are cued by breaks in the music and calls from the drummers and other dancers. Yet within the traditional forms each person is encouraged, even required to be fully herself. And what's in it for a viewer? Plenty. Take the Alyo Children's Dance Theatre, which did a bang-up job at DanceAfrica last fall. Watching them all together--some 100 kids age 4 to 17--accompanied by the youthful Ene drum ensemble is like having storm clouds roar up to you and break, over and over again. This year, for "Cossan: Creativity," their fifth annual concert, the troupe will perform, among other things, their signature piece, Camara Suite (three dances from the Mali empire) as well as new works like Pique (a flirtation dance from Trinidad) and Kingho (a rite-of-passage dance for the drummers by Sia, Inc., a group of artists from Senegal). Artistic director Kimosha Murphy gets the kids young, preferably preschool age, then treats them gently, alternating games, stories, and dancing. She's been known to get them even younger: the babies of women who've danced while pregnant, she says, respond in their bassinets to the breaks. Now that's having the stuff in your bones. Saturday at 7 and Sunday at 3 in the Katherine Dunham Theatre of Kennedy King College, 6800 S. Wentworth; $8. Call 907-2193 for tickets and info.

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