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James Kelly Choreography Project

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What impresses me about Chicagoan James Kelly is his versatility. Sure, he can do a flat-out jazz dance, and has for such companies as Gus Giordano's. But he can also do something much more daring, especially for someone steeped in the jazz idiom: he can be quiet. His 4 on a Clarinet, set to Aaron Copland's Concerto for Clarinet and Piano, has its contemplative moments even as it asserts the music's cowboy tang. In this dance Kelly's style is more a balletic form of modern than it is jazz, and the same goes for Untitled Duet, in which two people, possibly lovers, are so still and quiet together that they create a private space in which to watch each other dance. Kelly has also done MTV-style, big-bang social criticism in such works as Crossing the Line, originally commissioned and performed by Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theatre. Such versatility can make an artist seem superficial, but Kelly isn't. Whatever style he chooses, he's committed to it entirely. These three dances plus Tooned In make up the program of his upcoming concert along with two new pieces: A Nation Once Again, about the conflicts in Northern Ireland, and Shostakovich for Two, a duet for Kelly and former Ballet Chicago dancer Patti Eylar. Thursday and next Friday, July 28 and 29, at 7:30 in the auditorium of the Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State; $15 (Friday is a company benefit; $35 and up includes performance and reception following). Call 409-1222 for tickets and information.

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