An All-Star Roster Creates a Must-Catch Collaboration for the Harris Theater

By John Dugan | September 19, 2018 | Culture

A quintet of talents from the worlds of dance and music press “play” at the Harris Theater.

(Photo: Future-Image via Zuma Press)

Two-way artistic cross-pollination has become expected in the performance realm. But this month at the Harris Theater, we’ll see collaboration pushed several degrees further in a multifaceted world premiere that draws from the digital in viral video dance and cerebral pop.

British singer/composer Devonté Hynes (better known as Blood Orange) has composed new music for Chicago’s Third Coast Percussion ensemble to perform in an original, evening-length work with dance from Hubbard Street Dance Chicago performers choreographed by Emma Portner, and Lil Buck and Jon Boogz (aka Movement Art Is).

All embrace collabs. As Blood Orange, Hynes has explored love and black identity in towering synth-and-string-drenched soundscapes, and is no stranger to modern dance (see the evidence on YouTube). Lil Buck has brought Memphis jookin to ballet stages. Third Coast has teamed up with dancers from Hubbard Street and modernist composers. And Emma Portner frequently pumps up the dance for Justin Bieber videos.

A group effort like this sounds wonderful but tricky—who kicks things off, one might wonder? Boogz, who went from Venice Beach street performer to video/touring sensation, explains, “The choreography stems from the story; the narrative guides the movement ideas. The music sets the tone of the work and guides how we express ourselves in movement.”

Portner, who has choreographed West End musicals, has welcomed the production’s comparatively long seven-week creative process. “It feels like the greatest gift I could ever receive at this point in my career, because it gives me the time and space to fail!”

With this team in place, expect exacting performances and a musical environment rife with emotion. In other words, a collaboration to remember. Sept. 27, 29 and 30, 205 E. Randolph St., 312.635.3799

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