Pilar Medina | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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There may be other soloists like Mexican artist Pilar Medina, but I don't know of any. She extrapolates from flamenco--in which she's well trained--to create works that are modern in feeling if not appearance, full of meaning and specific emotion. In El aguila dorada ("The Golden Eagle") she adopts several personas in turn, embodying Mexico's history and mix of ethnicities. At first very much an eagle, in a flowing multicolored gown, she wields a traditional fan in traditional ways--only it's made of feathers, Shedding the gown to reveal a Spanish-style dress, she arches her arms overhead in typical flamenco fashion-except that her hands are stiff claws. Later she becomes a solemn peasant woman whose arched-back torso expresses religious devotion, not pride, and whose outstretched vibrating hand represents supplication, not ecstasy. The recorded musical accompaniment includes traditional flamenco singing and guitar playing, jazz guitar, and the modern classical sound of Philip Glass. Flamenco purists will probably not be pleased by Medina's work, but perhaps El aguila dorada offers a vision of the future of ethnic dance, as artists fuse traditional forms with their training in Graham, Dunham, or Cecchetti technique. Medina's performances of El aguila dorada--the final programs of the Cruzando Fronteras festival--take place Thursday, March 28, Saturday, and Sunday at 7 at the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, 1852 W. 19th; $14 Thursday, $16 Saturday and Sunday. Call 989-3310 for tickets and information. --Laura Molzahn

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Christa Cowrie.

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