Trinity Irish Dance Company
The dancers in this Chicago-based company make the Riverdance performers look like old ladies in cocktail-waitress outfits. That's partly because the Trinity Irish dancers are appreciably younger and partly because they wear heavily brocaded traditional costumes (often lovingly sewed by family members) but mostly because they're so well trained--one might even say drilled--in this quasi-military form. Chins high, arms held stiffly at their sides, these performers deftly execute the almost puppetlike footwork, with amazing ballon in soft shoes and astonishing strength and precision in hard ones. But artistic director Mark Howard doesn't stop at technique: his choreography won two gold medals this year at the annual world championships of Irish dance in Ennis, Ireland (the under-16 dancers won a third gold medal for their performance of the ceili, a traditional dance). There's nothing parochial about his vision, as he consistently works to combine Irish dance with other forms (tap, bharatanatyam, African dance) and to place it in unusual contexts: one of the works on this program is The Mollies, an Irish-American dance-theater piece about the Molly Maguires. The full 22-member company dances in both performances, with young kids making cameos in both; the under-13 team appears in the hour-long family matinee as well. Saturday at 2 and 8 at the Skyline Stage, Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand; $20 for the evening performance; $12 for the matinee, $8 for children under 12. Call 312-559-1212 for tickets. --Laura Molzahn
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.