The Joffrey Ballet performed an equally demonically difficult work — “In The Middle, Somewhat Elevated,” by the American-bred, European-based choreographer William Forsythe. The dancing — by Victoria Jaiani, Rory Hohenstein, Christine Rocas, Amber Neumann, Graham Maverick, Alexis Polito, Ricardo Santos, Anastacia Holden and Jenny Winton — was uniformly dazzling in its razor-sharp, knife’s-edge precisionism and fierce technical brilliance. Set to the mechanically percussive electroshock score of Thom Willems, the dancers must move like highly competitive, ultra-chic urbanites with killer attitudes and plenty of sexy alienation. Pitched into the most extreme and extended positions, they often resemble poisonous spiders in their black tights and green leotards. Though a fascinating showcase for the bravura Joffrey dancers, this work often feels painfully emblematic of its 1980s vintage and all its hot-and-cold narcissism.
When the Hip Hop Culture Dance Ensemble of the After School Matters program stormed on stage during an original work commissioned just for them by the Chicago Dancing Festival I thought, "This could change their lives." There were a bunch of talented artists sharing the stage with world-renowned, professional dancers from Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, the Giordano Dance Chicago and the Joffrey Ballet. Can you imagine being able to put that an application to a college dance program?