Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago 

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Can't go to Africa? Try a concert by Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago instead. With no Spring Festival of Dance this year, this internationally known, long-lived troupe specializing in African and African-American dance and based at Kennedy-King College is producing a north-side concert showing off a new piece by Moustapha Bangora, former choreographer of Les Ballets Africains; Guinea Suite gathers together several dances of celebration and initiation. As usual, men and women dance separately, emphasizing the differences between the sexes. The girls about to undergo a rite of passage stand or kneel quietly, then burst into dances that include scooping, harvesting motions and arms raised in praise; swinging heads highlight the women's flexibility and forthright charm, embellishing the larger motions of torsos and arms. A piece for the men brings into focus their strength and aggression, as they ball up their biceps or flip back and forth from palms to feet. For the men and women alike, however, Guinea Suite illuminates the dancers' stamina and invention, as each one gives the ritualized movement his or her own energy. Also on the program are the South African "can dance" and the "koumpo," a masquerade from Gambia. As always the concert will ride the wild river of the Muntu drummers' music, and there will be pre- and postshow exhibitions of stilt walking and drumming, expositions of African history, and samples of African cuisine. Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 3 at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport; $15-$20. Call 773-602-1135 for tickets and information, including group rates. --Laura Molzahn

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

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