Despite its disco-esque backdrop of fluttering silver curtains, Reggie Wilson's The Tale: Npinpee Nckutchie and the Tail of the Golden Dek has a homely quality. Performed by four dancers and four singers, it features a range of music, from recordings by Grace Jones, R. Kelly, and others to live a cappella renderings of traditional songs--old blues, spirituals, hymns. The choreography is pointedly not fancy, often spare and in unison, and reflects popular forms like the Charleston, the cha-cha, and the electric slide. It's performed with feeling but casually, and the singers too give the music their all without regard for whether it's exactly in time or in tune. There's a sense of engagement but not of performance--it's as if these were people in a distant world unaware of being watched, an effect enhanced by lighting occasionally so dim you almost lose the performers in the murk. Brooklyn-based Wilson has created a respectful but entertaining look at music and dance of the African diaspora, with nothing airless about it. a Opens Thu 3/15, 7:30 PM. Through 3/17: Fri-Sat 7:30 PM, Museum of Contemporary Art, theater, 220 E. Chicago, 312-397-4010, $16-$24. Postshow talk Thu 3/15, and a roundtable on black social dance Sat 3/17, 2 PM.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Julieta Cervantes.