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Jump Rhythm Jazz Project

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Billy Siegenfeld's new sextet, Sorrows of Unison Dancing, shows the upbeat choreographer in as downhearted a mood as I've seen him. To Chopin's Prelude in E Minor and variations by Christian Cherry, he depicts an emotional universe offering only dispiriting and limited alternatives: One can try to dance in perfect unison with others, which is both impossible and boring, creating disaffection. Or one can dance alone, which tends to create anger. The ballet exercises he draws on evoke conventionality and conformity, but they're no more expressive when merged with his jazz-inflected style--the dancers merely tip out of alignment, leaning heads and torsos back. In this setting, pure but almost self-parodic snippets of Siegenfeld's own punchy style look overly determined and even pugnacious. Siegenfeld also incorporates readings from texts as disparate as Gertrude Stein's The Making of Americans, Philip Roth's American Pastoral, Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, and Charles Dickens's Great Expectations into the work, producing a dynamically textured pastiche of music, literature, and dance. Sorrows ends on a forgiving note, with two dancers singing the bittersweet Frank Sinatra vehicle "Young and Foolish." Also on the program are Siegenfeld's If Winter, Settling for Less, Elling, Sweet: The Healing, I Hear Music, and Romance in Swingtime, created with associate artistic director Jeannie Hill, who also contributes a tap-dance trio, For Buster (dedicated to James "Buster" Brown). Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 S. Michigan, 312-344-8300. Opens Thursday, December 4, 8 PM. Through December 6: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM. $20-$24. Note: A family-oriented one-hour matinee Saturday, December 6, at 3 PM is preceded by a free parent-child movement workshop at 2 PM. $10; $6 for children 12 and under.

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