James Kelly Choreography Project | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

James Kelly Choreography Project 

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It's not every choreographer who can make dances to classical music and pounding industrial rock, to the king of pop and to traditional Irish tunes. James Kelly can do that and more--and thank goodness, since his ability to shift gears means that the five dances on this program, all his, are all entertaining in different ways. The 1993 Crossing the Line wrenches the gut with its athleticism and teases the mind with its gender bending; A Nation Once Again is a heartbreaking love story, an inventive variation on step dancing, and a commentary on Irish history all rolled into one. A new quartet to romantic contemporary music by local composer George McRae is more haunting emotionally than almost anything I've seen Kelly do before, and It's Not Where, It's Me makes unusual use of the stage's light bars, lowered far enough to create a kind of jungle gym for the five dancers. The last piece on the program is meant to be a surprise, but I can tell you it's full of campy, dead-on takes on the 50s. Kelly's pickup troupe, including several dancers from River North and Hubbard Street, are not to be missed: they do a bang-up job. Friday and Saturday at 8 in the auditorium of the Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State; $15 (or $40-$250 for the benefit following the Saturday performance). Call 409-1222 for tickets and info.

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