Luna Negra Dance Theater | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Luna Negra Dance Theater 

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Didn't make it south for carnival this year? It's OK--you can go see Luna Negra's performance of Vicente Nebrada's Batucada fantastica. The Venezuelan choreographer made this vibrant, stirring piece in 1977 for his own company, Ballet Internacional de Caracas, which performed the work with one woman on pointe and seven men. Later he set it on the New York group Ballet Hispanico, where Luna Negra artistic director Eduardo Vilaro was a principal dancer for nine years. During his tenure there he performed three of its eight solos, and when Nebrada died in 2002, Vilaro wanted to pay tribute to him by reviving Batucada fantastica for his own troupe. Luna Negra's version reverses the ratio of the sexes, and the seven women give Nebrada's vigorously sensual movement an appealing softness and humor. Frankly, they're cute as hell. Set to propulsive, percussive music by Luciano Perrone, the piece concludes with a joyous ensemble section that has about eight endings, each more riotous than the last. Is the dance a little dated and kitschy? That doesn't make it any less fun. Vilaro has choreographed two new dances: Angelitos negritos, an ensemble piece set to a pastiche score by Joshua Mathews, and the duet Imperfect Partners. Rounding out the program is a new work for the ensemble, Undertake to Do It Joyfully, by Jamaican-born poet-choreographer Brian Carey Chung. Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn, 312-337-6543. Through May 23: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 3 PM. $15-$25; $10 for children under 12.

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

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