DanceAfrica Chicago '97
However much I enjoyed the Caribbean dance classes I used to take, I always ended up in despair: I knew that I'd never be able to move like my classmates who'd grown up Caribbean, either here or down there. They had a lilt, a syncopation, that my straightforward Minnesota upbringing had never produced in me and that I was too old to learn--it seemed you had to grow up with it, learn it from your auntie's walk or street-corner flirtations. It was as if their bodies had springs built into them that made all movements--up and down and side to side, as in swinging the hips--rebound and reverberate, rendering the famed polyrhythms of African dance softer, less brutal, more natural. Anyway, you have the chance to judge for yourself at the seventh annual DanceAfrica, devoted this year to dances of the Caribbean. At the top of the bill is Garth Fagan Dance; Fagan, who's from Jamaica but is now based in Rochester, New York, will present a piece called From Before that explores his own roots in island dance. Given his penchant for sliced-up movement, clean and abrupt, it will be interesting to see what he does with these folk forms. The youthful Marie Brooks Pan-Caribbean Dancers convey the color and vibrant life of an island carnival; rounding out the program are three Chicago troupes that have done, and will do, their share of Caribbean dances--Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago, Najwa Dance Corps, and Sundance Production. As usual the jovial, commanding Chuck Davis will perform griot duty. Friday at 8, Saturday at 2 and 8, and Sunday at 2 at the Medinah Temple, 600 N. Wabash; $14-$18. (Marketplace, free and open to the public, is Friday 6 to 11, Saturday noon to 11, and Sunday noon to 7.) Call 773-989-3310 for tickets and information, 312-902-1500 for tickets, and 312-409-2903 for group rates. --Laura Molzahn
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by William Frederking.