The 18- to 24-year-old performers of DanceWorks Chicago are in a "magic stage of life," says artistic director Julie Nakagawa. "They're finding themselves, believing anything can happen." Adopting a "grow and go" approach, DWC "graduates" its dancers after a year or two. The troupe incubates not only dancers but, in its upcoming sixth-anniversary benefit, the young choreographer Joshua Manculich, a member of Thodos Dance Chicago. Personally, he says, he prefers slow, lyrical movement—but challenged himself to speed things up for The Rate in Which I Am. Originally a solo he entered in DWC's DanceMoves choreography competition, it's been reconfigured here as a "solo for six" that places each performer in a dramatic on-again, off- again spotlight. Despite the breakneck pace, Manculich asks the dancers to "experience relationships, the scenery." And despite their youth, they nail all the nuances of timing and feeling in this headlong work.
The rest of the program features live musical accompaniment. Jazz percussionist Paul Wertico plays over some of his recorded tracks for Francisco Aviña's new sextet, From Here to There. And folk group Sons of the Never Wrong—who make up the entire first act—return in the second to play their original songs for Gina Patterson's warm, loving My Witness.