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Jazz Dance World Congress

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Jazz dance is a distinctly American form, a melting-pot stew of influences: Irish/African tap, Russian/French ballet, African tribal dances. Thoroughly blended and well spiced, it's been served up for decades on Broadway. But recently, in a curious reversal of the integration process, jazz dance has become a popular American export, a form other cultures are absorbing. Two years ago Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago brought in jazz companies from all over the world for the second Jazz Dance World Congress, a biennial event, and this week they're doing it again. It's a rare opportunity to see groups like Japan's popular Masashi Action Machine, as bright and flashing as a samurai sword, and the exotic, erotic La Compagnie Rick Odums from Paris. Appealing national troupes like the Jump Rhythm Jazz Project (New York) and JazzDance by Danny Buraczeski (Minneapolis) are also on the bill, not to mention Giordano's Evanston-based company itself. And then there are the related forms, the distant but dear cousins: tap companies like Chicago's Alexander, Michaels/Future Movement and New York's Toe Jamm; modern companies interested in percussion dance like Chicago's Jan Erkert & Dancers and Wats on Dance, from Palm Springs; Chicago's premiere African company, Muntu Dance Theatre. And lots, lots more, on five head-spinning bills (see listing for details). Saturday and Monday through Wednesday at 8 at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Northwestern University, 1977 South Campus Dr. in Evanston; $10-$15. Call 708-491-7282 for tickets. Sunday at 8 at the Navy Pier Skyline Stage, 600 E. Grand; $18-$22. Call 559-1212 for tickets.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/Mike Canale.

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