Joel Hall Dancers | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Joel Hall Dancers


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If stuffy old Christmas ballets danced in cavernous halls simply bore you and the little ones, Nuts & Bolts: A Nutcracker for the 90s, Joel Hall's hip, evening-length modern jazz dance, provides an alternative. Set to Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn's rendition of the Nutcracker Suite, plus a generous dose of house music, Nut & Bolts unabashedly celebrates the holidays in a funky kind of way. Sure, there's the requisite dance on pointe, but beyond that anything's fair game. Throughout the first act the lead "ballerinas" wear purple and fuchsia tutus and Walkman headphones. In one section the whole troupe jitterbugs; in another they bop around like the gang in the party scene from A Charlie Brown Christmas. Perhaps the most entertaining bit, however, is "Chinois Chocolat," a goofy parody of ballet's sensuous pas de deux complete with kid-approved butt jokes. Ever-inclusive and generous in his dances, Hall stresses that Nuts & Bolts isn't a parody (although the word "camp" might be applied) or a Christmas event. It's a holiday dance, and his long-established multiracial troupe shows that the holidays are--as they should be--a joyful celebration of life. Friday at 7:30, Saturday at 8, Sunday at 2, Thursday-Saturday, December 7-9, at 8, and Sunday, December 10, at 2 at the O'Rourke Performing Arts Center of Truman College, 1145 W. Wilson; $10-$20 (opening-night benefit, $50). Call 587-1122 for tickets and information.

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