River North Dance Company | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

River North Dance Company 

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Now in its 14th season, River North has a well-deserved reputation for slick performance and striking, sometimes humorous choreography. It also has a taste for the pop music--and sometimes pop dance--of earlier eras. The company's world premiere for its annual Dance Chicago engagement is Harrison McEldowney's full-company piece 5 Easy Lessons, set to songs by Sarah Vaughan. Its festival premiere is The Sweetest Sounds--A Tribute to Richard Rodgers, choreographed by artistic directors Frank Chaves and Sherry Zunker and including such tunes as "My Funny Valentine" and "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered." But the troupe achieved its earliest success with music and dance of a very different nature: Zunker's 1993 Reality of a Dreamer, an MTV-style takeoff on the song of the same name by Annie Lennox. Go figure. That dance returns to the River North repertoire with this engagement for the first time since 1999. The troupe performs two programs over two weekends. Program A includes Reality of a Dreamer; Chaves's At Last, a duet excerpted from his Mission; Ashley Roland's percussively choreographed solo Beat; Julia Rhoads's In the Oasis, made under the auspices of Dance Chicago's Choreography Project last year; 5 Easy Lessons; The Sweetest Sounds; A Mi Manera, a collaboration by Zunker, Ginger Farley, and Kevin Iega Jeff set to the Gipsy Kings' version of "My Way"; and Iega's affecting Naeemah's Room, an account in dance of his sister's emotional and physical breakdown. Program B includes Chaves's Thief, Zunker's Vent, McEldowney's The Box, In the Oasis, 5 Easy Lessons, Naeemah's Room, and Sam Watson and Christina Ernst's amazingly kinetic duet Wired. Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, 312-902-1500 for tickets; 773-935-6860 for information. Program A November 14-15: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM. Program B November 22-23: Saturday, 8 PM; Sunday, 3 PM. $20-$25. Note: The company offers a benefit performance Tuesday, November 18, at 6 PM at the Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph, 312-553-2000. A gala dinner dance follows. $300; $150 for children under 35.

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