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Cerqua Rivera Art Experience

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It's not often that dance audiences are treated to live music throughout a performance. Not surprisingly, many of the spicy newer pieces by this music and dance troupe, headed by composer-musician Joe Cerqua and dancer-choreographer Wilfredo Rivera, are Latin flavored. Brujos deseos is tinged with the tango, while the elaborate Day of the Dead, a suite of four dances, is inspired by indigenous Mexican dance forms, Aztec mythology, and more recent Mexican folktales. The piece's narrative involves a man who's responsible for the death of a woman in a car accident but doesn't own up to it; he must go through three stages of spiritual growth and confront the woman when her soul returns on the Day of the Dead. The piece employs slide projections by Matt Lamb, papier-mache masks, and a 16-foot dancing skeleton designed by Blair Thomas. Also relatively new is "Crows," a section in Millennium Mambo that features lyrics by playwright Regina Taylor, conga music, and three women in flowing, silky dresses; the athleticism of their movement is heightened in the piece's solo section, "In a Dance," by a woman in an S-M leather outfit. (The work's theme is the constraints placed on women.) The program's premiere is Scarecrow, a solo choreographed and performed by Rivera to music Cerqua composed for Next Theatre Company's production of The Laramie Project, about responses to the murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard. Also on the program are the solo At Last (performed by guest artist Paul Christiano), the playful Carole King Suite, Manteca, Summertime, American Plan, Givin' Out Some Soul (choreographed by music-theater wiz Kenny Ingram), Good Time Charlie, I Want to Be Ready, and Tom & Jerry. Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 Campbell, Arlington Heights, 847-577-2121. Through March 30: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM. $28.50.

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