Cerqua Rivera Art Experience | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Cerqua Rivera Art Experience 

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The adversaries of dance are not worthy. At least that's the impression I got from The Adversaries of Dance, one of the pieces by Harrison McEldowney on the Cerqua Rivera program called "Jazz Pie: A Moving Musical Slice of America." McEldowney has unearthed some hilarious passages from the early 20th century about the propriety of dancing, which are read aloud before each of the work's four sections. One pundit maintains that dancing is mere "hugging set to music," while another calls it an "addictive delight" that "murders" the weaker sex, said to be naturally more susceptible to its lures. McEldowney's penchant for broad humor shows up as the dancers fall by ones, twos, or threes to the floor as if shot during the section that follows the latter quote. The entire program cheerfully surveys a range of American music and dance from the last century, from popular forms like the Charleston and the watusi to modern and jazz. Composer-singer Joe Cerqua and his band provide the live music, with accompaniment in this show by harmonicist Corky Siegel (Saturday night only), violinist Johnny Frigo, and trumpeter Orbert Davis. Keeping the musicians onstage throughout makes them an integral part of the stage picture--a female solo by company choreographer Wilfredo Rivera set to Davis's arrangement of "April in Paris," which Davis plays smack-dab in the middle of the stage, turns into a duet that nearly erases the distinction between musician and dancer. In fact that's the aim of this impressionistic suite, set against murals by Matt Lamb. As Cerqua said in a televised interview, it's a "singing, breathing, dancing painting." Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 S. Michigan, 312-344-8300. Through July 10: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM. $17.50-$25; $40 for the Saturday show and a postperformance reception.

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

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