Joel Hall Dancers | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Joel Hall Dancers 

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The story's almost apocalyptic: during one of those fire-and-brimstone thunderstorms last August, Joel Hall's studio and offices on School Street burned down; the company lost everything, from its costumes to 20 years' worth of photos. After that the Joel Hall Dancers subsisted in an unheated South Loop location, until in January it got too cold to work there even with the space heaters going. But somehow Hall has pulled things back together: the troupe has moved into new digs at 934 W. North, and it's putting on its by-now annual show. at the Merle Reskin Theatre, this year called "The Phoenix." In honor of its 20th anniversary, the company is performing three older works--El Gato Negro, R.E.M. 6-15, and Erutuf 1--plus a new suite of dances, also called The Phoenix. Two duets from the new work display the patented Hall mix of classical, jazz, and modern and establish a spiritual/sexual current of energy between the two dancers, but they're also subtly different: in one the man and woman seem younger, more excruciatingly intertwined; in the other, eye contact is more frequent than physical contact but just as powerful in its way. Hall says he based The Phoenix on the yogic cakras, the rivers of energy that flow through the body; you'd have to tap something to get through the kind of year he's had. Wednesday through next Friday, March 18, at 7:30 and next Saturday, March 19, at 8 at the Merle Reskin Theatre, 60 E. Balbo; $20-$25. Call 362-8455 or 587-1122 for tickets and information.

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