Ralph Lemon and Bebe Miller | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Ralph Lemon and Bebe Miller 

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Ralph Lemon performed here last in 1992, Bebe Miller in 1990. Both were engagements mainly devoted to company works at the Dance Center of Columbia College, but both were memorable in part for the choreographers' distinctive solos. Lemon's commissioned piece on the African-American experience, Solo, was actually something of a departure for him: the opening in particular was far from subtle, as he entered wearing a mask with huge, rubbery lips and mashed a banana into his mouth. Always inventive with scores, Lemon used for that piece a recording of LaVaughn Robinson trying to describe the difference between white and black forms of tap dancing. Satirical and bitterly intelligent on the effects of slavery, Solo was in complete contrast to an excruciatingly moving piece about death, Sleep, that Lemon had shown two years earlier at MoMing Dance & Arts Center. Miller's solo, Rain, was a spare, evocative fertility dance in which she approached but rarely touched a patch of sod on the stage--her restraint enhancing our sense of its tactility. Without being exactly alike, Lemon and Miller have a family resemblance in their penchant for irony and unpredictable movement, for aural and visual textures. Now it turns out that they collaborated in 1986 on a duet, Two, that in 1994 they decided to rework for film; in late 1996 British filmmaker Isaac Julien began working on it with them. The result, a short film called Three, reveals the choreographers' usual talents and adds Julien's dreamlike camera work. It will be shown on this program along with two new solos, one by each choreographer. Thursday, April 29, through next Saturday, May 1, at 8 at the Dance Center of Columbia College, 4730 N. Sheridan; $20. Call 773-989-3310 for tickets and information. --Laura Molzahn

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

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