13 July 2007

Baryshnikov and Hell's Kitchen Dance

We've seen Baryshnikov only a couple of times before: in 2003, at a benefit performance in Columbus, Ohio, and in 2004 in a staged interview as part of the New Yorker Festival. This time, he was performing with his dance troupe, Hell's Kitchen Dance, in Chicago's Harris Theater, and he and they were phenomenal.

All three dances included Baryshnikov. The first dance was a solo--or sort of a duet with himself--video of a very young Baryshnikov was projected on the back wall and he danced in relation to it. It was so moving, somehow. I found myself weeping without knowing why.

The next dance also included two young female dancers. After an intermission, there was a performance that included the whole troupe. The choreography was splendid--thrilling and imaginative. Lots of arms and hands, heads--not just legs and jumping up and down. (Though there were plenty of leaps and pirouettes.)

What's great about Baryshnikov? Presence and grace. When he's on stage, he's just magnetic. You can't take your eyes off him. And when he moves, he's like liquid. He flows.

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