Cuban-American bandleader Xavier Cugat, who brought Latin music to the American masses in the 30s and 40s, inspired artistic director Eduardo Vilaro's new Cugat! It's not deep, but then neither was Cugat: he was a sharp cookie who reportedly once said, "I would rather play 'Chiquita Banana' and have my swimming pool than play Bach and starve." Cugat! is flamboyant and often sexy, designed in black and white to suggest old films and decorated with artificial palm trees; Angel Melendez & the 911 Mambo Orchestra provide live music. Occasionally the pace slows and the mood quiets down, as in a duet for Cugat and a soldier representing the communist regime. But more often you can relax and feel the island breezes or enjoy the nightclub steam. The company also performs the Chicago premiere of Tango Vitrola, by Argentinean choreographer Alejandro Cervera, and the Chicago premiere of Allegro con Sabor, choreographed by Bessie winner Pedro Ruiz and performed by members of Luna Negra and the Joffrey Ballet. Michelle Manzanales's wonderful Sugar in the Raw will be reprised. a Fri-Sat 10/19-10/20, 8 PM, Sun 10/21, 3 PM, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph, 312-334-7777, $25-$55, $10 for the "Mi Familia, My Dance" matinee. --Laura Molzahn
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Tango Vitrola photo by Audia.