By TOM LAVIS
Frank Chaves, artistic director and choreographer for River North Chicago Dance, wants his audiences to experience all the defining elements of the dance company.
“The audience will not only see River North, it will feel River North,” Chaves said.
Nothing thrills Chaves more than sending out that energy into the audience and have the audience send it right back to the stage.
“It brings all the emotion to the forefront and tears down that fourth wall between the audience and the dancers on a stage,” Chaves said.
The company will perform at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 6 at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, 450 Schoolhouse Road in Richland Township.
Every Chaves performance blends skilled and emotional dancers, stimulating music and bold choreography.
“People have come up to me and told me they have felt things during the performance that touches their lives in ways that they never have expected,” Chaves said.
He said his Cuban ancestry has had a major influence on how he stages a show.
“I was a musician before I became a dancer,” he said. “My Cuban roots instilled in me a romance and passion that translates into syncopated rhythms.”
River North Chicago Dance Company is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a 12-city national tour.
The jazz-based contemporary company boasts that it embodies a true flavor of “Americana,” specializing in showcasing the work of established and emerging American choreographers.
Founded in 1989, River North Chicago has established itself as one of Chicago’s leading dance companies, and one of the most popular national repertoire companies.
“This is a versatile group that is hot, sassy and daring in presenting new artistic works from Broadway to ballroom, jazz to contemporary and everything in between,” said Michael Bodolosky, arts center executive director. “We will have a jitterbug master call at 11 a.m. Feb. 6, which is free and open to the public.”
Chaves assumed sole artistic directorship of River North Chicago in 2001.
“Coming up with something original is as difficult as trying to add one more letter to the alphabet,” Chaves said.
He recently premiered his ground-breaking piece, “Forbidden Boundaries,” which will be performed in Johnstown.
“Forbidden Boundaries” addresses his own artistic journey that was derailed in 2005 when a cyst on his spine was removed, he said.
The procedure altered his physical capabilities.
“I had spinal surgery and found out I had a disease of the spinal cord,” he said.
“Since then, there have been phases of recovery – emotional and physical.”
“Forbidden Boundaries” also delves into taboo subjects.
“I have found it makes people uncomfortable, so that tells me it’s working,” Chaves said.
He initially conceptualized the piece in 2006 when he was creating “Underground Movements,” and the dancers utilize an unusual prop – a stretchy shirt – to portray internal struggle in four sections: Invitation, Hidden Truth, Harmony and Confrontation.
The shirts can be twisted into ropes that suggest straitjackets or leashes as the bound dancers strain to escape.
Chaves said one of the most passionate of the dance’s four sections is a trio of dancers, two men and one woman, that performs Hidden Truth.
“This is my favorite section, and it connects with so many people,” Chaves said. “The costuming keeps the people on the edge of their seats.”
The piece explores the ways we engage, ignore and occasionally live at peace with inhibitions, he said.
Imaginative props, rigorous athleticism, high-energy ensemble sections and an eye-pleasing ending highlight the piece.
Confrontation builds to an incredible climax as its dynamic percussive rhythms underscored the dancers’ final rejection of their boundaries.
“I have Harmony in there because we can find peace within ourselves, too,” Chaves said. “But we often know what we need to do and just can’t do it.”
Tickets are from $10 to $28 and are available from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays at the box office or by calling 269-7200, (800) 846-2787 or by visiting www.upjarts.com.
What: River North Chicago Dance.
Where: Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, 450 Schoolhouse Road, Richland Township.
When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 6.
Tickets: Available from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays at the box office or by calling 269-7200, (800) 846-2787 or visit www.upjarts.com.
Cost: $10, $26, $28.
By TOM LAVIS
Captured on film | Annual Johnstown movie festival kicks off tonight
People yearning to become successful filmmakers have an opportunity to showcase their talents during the seventh annual Johnstown Film Festival. Johnstown Area Heritage Association’s festival will be held tonight through Saturday (June 6-9) and will feature a mix of film shorts – documentaries, experimental films, narratives and comedies.
Toe-tapping music | Jazz Along the River kicks off Friday at St. Mary’s in Cambria City
Jazz Along the River will be back again this summer. The monthly jazz event has become a fixture at St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church pavilion, Fifth Avenue and Power Street in the Cambria City section of Johnstown. The series of concerts will feature a different jazz group on the fourth Friday of each month through September.
Texas Tenors returning to Arcadia
Contrary to popular western lore, the good guys, or at least the good singers, wear black hats.
The Texas Tenors will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Arcadia Theater, 1418 Graham Ave., Windber.
Cresson Lake Playhouse to stage ‘The Fantasticks’
This musical has been on Broadway for 54 years.
“The Fantasticks” will be presented Thursday through June 2 at Cresson Lake Playhouse, 279 Shapiro Road, Loretto.
Curtain times will be 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays.
Events | Whitewater bash
Benscreek Canoe Club’s Stonycreek Rendezvous will be held today through Sunday on the Stonycreek River and Greenhouse Park, Route 403, Tire Hill.
Events | Young art
Greater Johnstown Young Artists Exhibit is on display through May 25 at the Community Arts Center of Cambria County, 1217 Menoher Blvd., Westmont.
'Seeing the Invisible' exhibit opens Friday in Loretto
Painting on a different plane is a positive study for artist and Altoona native Barbara Wachter. Her latest exhibition, “Seeing the Invisible: Paintings by Barbara Wachter,” opens Friday at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Loretto. The exhibition features 35 canvases of contemporary impressionism that will be on display in the museum’s Margery Wolf-Kuhn Gallery.
Events | 'Grand Finale'
Johnstown Symphony Orchestra will present “Grand Finale” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center in Richland Township.
Showcase of the Stars will feature students from local high schools
Local theater arts will flourish at an area arts center. The fourth annual Showcase of the Stars will be presented at 7 p.m. May 18 at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center in Richland Township.
Polka party | Three-day festival will feature Slovenian and Polish bands
After a seemingly endless winter and an abbreviated spring, the people of Johnstown are ready to kick up their heels. And there is no better opportunity to do that than by attending the Friendly City PolkaFest. The Greater Johnstown/Cambria County Convention and Visitors Bureau and St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church co-sponsor the event. They are ready to welcome thousands of polka enthusiasts to the city May 31 through June 2.
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