When I watched the video of Danny Buraczeski's most recent dance, Las Cuatro Estaciones ("The Four Seasons"), I was surprised. Was this the same choreographer whose work I'd seen in the summer of 1994, when his Minneapolis-based troupe performed Swing Concerto as part of the Jazz Dance World Congress? That piece--one of the highlights of the festival--is set to contemporary klezmer music and the big-band sounds of Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman, and the choreography originates in but vividly flies out from the universe of social dancing, particularly swing dance. Las Cuatro Estaciones is set to Astor Piazzolla's tango variation on Vivaldi's Four Seasons, and its individual motions and floor patterns alike are soft and flowing, recalling the modern-dance works of Paul Taylor, especially his 1975 "white ballet" Esplanade. What ties Las Cuatro Estaciones and Swing Concerto together is their musicality: Buraczeski has a gift for riding the music's current and elaborating on its details without being literal. What also sets this freewheeling choreographer apart is his gift for the muscular and plain, not common among jazz-dance choreographers. Ezekiel's Wheel, which he completed in 1999, seems to have been a pivotal work: interviewed shortly after the piece premiered, Buraczeski said, "[That] concert was my most personal yet, my most vulnerable. I don't make dances for audiences any more, I make them to explore my feelings....But I leave the door open so people can bring their own lives in." In Ezekiel's Wheel Buraczeski pays tribute to James Baldwin ("I feel like I'm saying thank you to him for his life, courage, and work"), setting the piece in part to a recording of Baldwin reading from his own writings and in part to an original score by Philip Hamilton. It appears with Swing Concerto and Las Cuatro Estaciones on a program that provides a glimpse of Buraczeski's wide-ranging changes over ten years. Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 S. Michigan, 312-344-8300. Opens Thursday, May 1, 8 PM. Through May 3: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM. $20 Thursday, $24 Friday and Saturday. Note: Jazzdance performs an hour-long matinee Saturday, May 3, at 3 PM; a free movement workshop for parents and children begins at 2:15. $10; $6 for children 12 and under. The troupe will offer a master class Saturday, April 26, 1-3 PM, at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln. $15.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Alvis Upitis.