Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Culture Shock Chicago

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I 'm a sucker for hip-hop. I like to watch it, I like to do it (in my own limited way, of course). And this troupe, headed by Viola E. Elkins, is a charmer. When I saw them on a Dance Chicago program a year and a half ago, they were a large group--some 30 people--who moved to the music's intricate rhythms in synchrony, creating an amazing impression of power and speed. Now Culture Shock Chicago is offering its first showcase. Both programs include several guest artists--among them Chris Perricelli and the Hip Hop ConnXion, a group that's also appeared during Dance Chicago--most of them friends of company members. So it's kind of an extended-family effort. For this concert all the pieces are short; one that's somewhat longer is jointly choreographed by five of the more experienced Culture Shock members, including Anthony Wolf, Cathy LaMorena, and Adrian Dela Cruz. Formed in 1998 by Elkins and two other people who've since left, the troupe is young--and devoted to young dancers. Like other members of the international Culture Shock organization, started in 1993 in San Diego by dancer Angie Bunch and originally (but no longer) supported by Nike, Culture Shock Chicago is dedicated to cultivating "self-worth, dignity, and respect for all peoples." Elkins, who's 35, says she wishes such an organization had been around when she was young, because members "meet and learn about different cultures and different people, and they learn to bond as a team"--not necessarily an easy task for freestylers. Vittum Theater, 1012 N. Noble, 312-409-5347. Through March 16: Saturday, 8 PM; Sunday, 3 PM. $15.

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