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

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Joel Hall Dancers


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Joel Hall's Nuts & Bolts keeps the candy colors and holiday sense of license and celebration from The Nutcracker--and little else. Where that 19th-century work focuses on the traditional family and material goods--hiding any romance or sexuality behind the weird smoke screen of a prepubescent girl, a peculiar godfather, and a prince who isn't quite flesh and blood--Hall in his stripped-down, very urban suite ignores "family values" and bourgeois trappings. Instead, in a version still suitable for kids, he gives us a Coffee and Tea male-female duet that mocks chivalry, divertissement dancers in drag, and other oblique allusions to the treacly original. The evening-length work--which takes a very loose, scattershot approach to the Nutcracker concept--includes but isn't limited to Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn's haunting update of Tchaikovsky's score: funk and house music and the dancing that goes with them are also part of the mix. And I have to say, no other blend of ballet and jazz I've seen realizes so well the creative potential in combining short tutus with rocking hips. Wednesday at 7:30, Friday, December 5, at 8, Saturday, December 6, at 2 and 8, and Sunday, December 7, at 3 at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport; $15-$20, $10 for kids 12 and under. Call 312-902-1500 for tickets, 773-935-6860 or 312-587-1122 for information.

--Laura Molzahn

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by August Tye.

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