Chicago's Muntu Dance Theatre offers an experience that defies categorization. There's plenty of movement, but the music--the singing, clapping, drumming--is equally compelling. What you see is flat-out physical, but the purpose of all that activity is just as clearly spiritual. The songs, dances, and stories come from Africa, but they've been filtered through modern America. The troupe makes no distinctions between aesthetic, cultural, and political aims. Just look at the two premieres Muntu plans for its 16th annual concert series, "Rituals": Mind Y'Own Business is a musical "reprimand" to the masses, translated from a traditional South African melody by Muntu drummer Baba Chief James Hawthorne Bey; Djon Dong Wolosodong is a traditional Senegalese dance honoring the ancestors and newborn children, choreographed by Senegalese artist Marie Bass Wiles. In fact the many offerings on this program are all over the map, from a revival of Muntu founder Alyo Tolbert's Basket Dance to a drum dialogue that celebrates the work ethic; the common denominator is the care and energy Muntu lavishes on all its performances. Next Thursday, December 10, at 7:30; next Friday and Saturday, December 11 and 12, at 8; and next Sunday, December 13, at 3 in the Katherine Dunham Theatre of Kennedy-King College, 6000 S. Wentworth. Tickets are $25 for Thursday's benefit performance (cocktail reception begins at 6); all other performances $6-$15. Call 602-1135 for tickets and information.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Kwabena Shabu.