It's not easy to step onstage and exude sex yet remain cool and elegant. But that's what River North has done, not surprisingly attracting large audiences along the way. (Perhaps as a corollary, their work is also strictly G-rated.) Coartistic director Frank Chaves specializes in this vein, represented here by his 1993 trio Passion, his 1995 ensemble piece Charanga (whose name was changed from Macarena for obvious reasons), and the company premiere of his Grusin Suite: set to jazzy selections from the sound track of The Firm, its five sections convey a multitude of moods as River North's luscious, precise dancers embroider the music's quirky staccato rhythms and lyrical scallops--especially former Hubbard Street dancer Alberto Arias and the tiny Lara Tinari in their duet. But other dances on this program, particularly two new ones, make fun of such languid or fiery elegance. Company member Harrison McEldowney's humorous Change Partners features an odd woman out at a 50s-style ball where everyone has a partner except her; she abandons her dignity to chase down the man of her dreams. And in coartistic director Sherry Zunker Dow's new Zib Wohs all the dancers abandon their dignity to get the part: this spoof of Broadway-style shows and auditions is dominated by outlandish, garish costumes that are the very antithesis of cool elegance. But, as the refrain of the last song in this suite goes, the rule in showbiz is "Whatever it takes." And there's something wonderful about so many talented people working so hard to entertain. Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 3 at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport; $20. Call 773-935-6860 for information and tickets (including subscriptions), 312-902-1500 for tickets.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/ William Frederking.