Chicago Human Rhythm Project | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Chicago Human Rhythm Project 

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This annual showcase, now in its 13th year, has held plenty of "legacy" concerts revealing the influence of one tap dancer on another--or on lots of others. So it's only natural it should go off and explore a larger universe this year, specifically the world of Latin-influenced percussive dance, in a series of concerts called "Ritmo--The Latin Beat." Headlining the opening weekend is Valeria Pinheiro's Vata Tap, based in Brazil, performing excerpts from Bagaceira ("Sugar Cane Pulp"). Watching the piece on video, I was impressed by its down-home vaudevillian air--there seemed to be plenty of jokes, incomprehensible to me since I don't speak Portuguese--and somewhat incongruous tap dancing. Sometimes what I thought at first was drumming was tapping in unison to produce an Afro-Brazilian beat; also unusual are the choreographed torsos, often in droopy modern-dance shapes. Also appearing opening weekend are two local Latin troupes, Gingarte Capoeira (which performs the Brazilian martial art) and Jaleo Arte Flamenco (performing a neoflamenco work by Nelson Sitton Carrillo), plus Chicago tappers Jimmy Payne Jr. and Perfect Timing, Rhythm ISS..., Especially Tap Chicago, the Jump Rhythm Jazz Project, and Chicago Human Rhythm Project founder Lane Alexander. During the week, the showcase is organizing three nights of tap slams open to soloists, duos, and small and large groups: each evening will feature 10 to 15 competitors, and the winner--chosen by the audience--collects that show's entrance fees. On Friday night of the second weekend, Dianne "Lady Di" Walker, Roberto Ayala, Van "The Man" Porter, Sam Weber, Jason Samuels Smith, Alexander, Martin "Tre" Dumas, and Perfect Timing perform; on Saturday the lineup is Ernest "Brownie" Brown, Pinheiro, Acia Gray, Brenda Bufalino, Heather Cornell, Lynn Dally, and Idella Reed, plus Rhythm ISS... and Especially Tap Chicago. On Sunday, August 10, 13 preprofessional troupes, participants in the project's Youth Tap Ensemble Conference, perform in "JAMboree!" Opening weekend takes place at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago, 312-397-4010. Through August 3: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM; Sunday, 7 PM. $19-$22. The tap slams take place at Northwestern University's Wallis Theatre, 1949 Campus Dr., Evanston, 773-296-1108, ext. 13. Through August 7: Tuesday-Thursday, 7:30 PM. $5. The second weekend is at Northwestern University's Josephine Louis Theatre, 20 Arts Circle Dr., Evanston, 847-491-7282. Through August 9: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM. $30-$35. "JAMboree!" also takes place at the Josephine Louis Theatre. Sunday, August 10, 2:30 PM. $30-$35.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/courtesy of Vata Tap.

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