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Luna Negra and Chicago Tap Theatre: A sci-fi evolution

Luna Negra Dance Theater in Naked Ape.
Luna Negra Dance Theater in Naked Ape.
By Cheryl Mann

Our dependence on communicating via technological gadgetry has become so pervasive dance artists are bound to intentionally or subconsciously create work that references a mechanized universe.

For Luna Negra Dance Theater’s spring engagement, March 12 at the Harris Theater, Spanish choreographer Fernando Hernando Magadan explores in movement how new media can physically alter the way we relate to each other. He’s thought a lot about how an addiction to Tweeting and texting can make people oblivious to others. But he takes his cues from human evolution. So, for his new work titled Naked Ape, picture a graph of stooped Cro-Magnon men eventually standing upright. Except, in Magadan’s updated version, humans have now become machines. Four dancers, and one pontificating scientist, navigate around sculptures in the shape of disembodied clothing. They begin as one amoeba-like unit struggling to break into individuals against a classical Bach score overlaid with electronic tracks. The dancers embark on a journey of self-discovery -- from mechanical clenching to the desperate touching of another’s face. One woman in particular transforms before our eyes…softening her fingers and loosening her torso so that her bones seem to emerge anew.

Luna Negra Dance Theater also presents a reworking of artistic director Gustavo Ramirez Sansano’s 2001 Flabbergast, an absurdist commentary on the immigrant’s search for a homeland; and Venezuelan choreographer Luis Eduardo Sayago’s use of Latin American bolero songs to explore personal attraction. Performance is March 12 at 8 p.m. at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park, 205 E. Randolph Drive. Tickets: $25-$55. Call 312-334-7777 or visit More info:

On a somewhat related robotic note, Chicago Tap Theatre offers a re-tooled retro revival of artistic director Mark Yonally’s Changes: A Science Fiction Tap Opera, opening March 11 at Stage 773. Originally produced in 2006, it is still set to the music of David Bowie, more precisely referencing Ground Control to Major Tom. Tap dance, jazz stylings and storytelling combine in what CTT describes as “a tangled tale of space travel, alien despots and social upheaval.” By revisiting the show, Yonally says he was able to enhance the strongest sections of the original while creating greater, and more believable, dramatic tension. He’s scrapped the cartoonish earlier sets of a control panel and alien prison for a more streamlined minimalism…that also leaves more room for dance. Says Yonally, “All in all, I think this production is much leaner, cleaner and a heck of a lot more engaging for the audience.”

Changes: A Science Fiction Tap Opera plays March 11, 12, 18 and 19 at 8 p.m. and March 13 and 20 at 3 p.m. at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont. Tickets: $18-$30. Call 773-327-5252 or visit More info:

Also playing…

Same Planet Different World Dance Theatre performs March 10-12 at 8 p.m. at the Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 S. Michigan Ave. Program includes artistic director Joanna Rosenthal’s Grey Noise, a blistering portrait of violence and paranoia by way of film noir archetypes. On a similar trajectory, in HIT, Minnesota choreographer Carl Flink puts the dancers in the state of mind of athletes and sports fans. The goal is high-impact collision, not victory. Tickets: $26-$30. Call 312-369-8330 or visit More info:

Evanston Dance Ensemble debuts Body of Work: the dance of art, a multifaceted concert of dances inspired by visual artists, including Degas, Calder and Bansky. Performances: March 11 at 7 p.m.; March 12 at 4 p.m.; March 13 at 2 p.m.; March 19 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; and March 20 at 2 p.m. at Northwestern University’s Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston. Tickets: $15-$22. Call 847-491-7282 or visit More info:

Joining Hands II is a collaboration of traditional Indian, jazz and contemporary music and dance influences performed by Anjal Chande and the Aakash Mittal Quartet on March 14 at 7:30 p.m. at Soham Dance Space, 922 N. Damen. Tickets: $20. Visit



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