Cerqua Rivera throws itself a party | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Cerqua Rivera throws itself a party

As ever, the troupe fuses dance and original live music in celebration of its 15th birthday.

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Bespoke music, played live, is a luxury for most companies. Not Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre, founded by choreographer Wilfredo Rivera and jazz musician Joe Cerqua. Every dance is a collaboration; every performance features live music. "New Works 2013," celebrating CRDT's 15 years, includes three premieres, two by CRDT members. Raphaelle Ziemba's mercurial new sextet, Phenomenologie du Son, may sound academic—the title pays tribute to philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty. But it's packed with everyday rhythms and gestures. Thoughtful, quirky music composed by CRDT woodwinds player Dan Hesler suggests four periods of the day, from early morning to late night. Ziemba likewise varies the mood, but both solo moments and group support remain constant, and reach their height in a closing tribute to retiring CRDT performer Kate Dempsey.

CRDT dancer Marc Macaranas requested a tune inspired by Sergio Mendes for his new Derramado ("Spilled"), and CRDT keyboardist Leandro Lopez Varady responded with a suitably silky yet percussive mix. At a rehearsal Macaranas urged his six dancers to become "low and thick," hoping to facilitate swaying and darting and thus suggest "a frenzied school of fish," as he puts it. Mei-Kuang Chen's Fixed; Perfectly is also new; musical interludes and several Rivera pieces, including his 2013 Lagrimas Negras ("Black Tears"), complete the program.

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