Great moments in hybridization | Dance Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Great moments in hybridization

Muntu Dance Theatre and DanceWorks Chicago swap dancing genes


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Cross-pollination is the name of the arts game these days—and this weekend's collaboration between DanceWorks Chicago and Muntu Dance Theatre promises to bear fine fruit. The brilliant Muntu drummers will provide decisive African beats for DWC's performance of Alex Ketley's moody 2008 If Ever (an Ocean) Relinquished as well as for an African-dance finale choreographed for both troupes by Muntu artistic director Amaniyea Payne.

Another new work for both companies leans more toward the contemporary dance idiom. In 2009 talented choreographer Monique Haley created the uberquick Uhuru for River North Dance Chicago, and she hasn't abandoned that aesthetic in See(in) Me. But she does modulate it. While the piece includes some strenuous partnering, a mix of postrock and house instrumental music allows Haley to slow the pace and seemingly expose her dancers' inner lives. Working with two male-female couples, one from each troupe, Haley suggests the simultaneous recognition and disorientation of glimpsing oneself in a mirror. Several repertory works by each company complete the program.

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