I’m ashamed to say that I was unaware of the twenty-year existence of Chicago Dance Crash before attending the opening night of Booms Day, the production celebrating the company’s 20th anniversary, running through September 10th, at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts. There is clearly a vibrant community of studios, dancers and choreographers like those from Chicago Dance Crash that make Chicago their home, and now that I’m aware of it, I’m excited to explore it further.
The hour and a half long movement play follows a young girl as she copes with the frenetic chaos of an apocalypse swirling around her with only her boom box to keep her company. Her journey is narrated by a recording of herself telling her tale to an unnamed man. This clever addition gives voice to the young girl at the heart of the story, play by play accounts of some of the events as they happen, and some witty humor sprinkled throughout.
And then there’s the dancing. The dancing is the heart and soul of the piece and its heart beats fast and its soul is seemingly endless in its depth. The speed and constant contact between dancers are mind-boggling and breathtaking, literally. The acrobatic and martial arts inspired choreography, mixed with hard hitting hip hop from different eras and then delicate interactions between characters makes you want to see the show again because you know there’s so much you missed the first time around. The cast rarely dances in unison, so it is startling and super impactful when it does.
KC Bevis is the Girl and she delivers an absolute power house performance. I don’t know how she and the rest of the dancers are able to sustain the energy and strength throughout the show that they exhibit. Ms. Bevis, especially, has little time to rest between scenes, and the super urban and funky costumes, designed by Jeff Hancock, are multi-layered for many. But those challenges never show, even in the intimate space of the Ruth Page theatre. There is only joy, intensity and focus on the faces of the dancers. The choreography, made up of choreographed movement, dancer source movement and freestyle, is a glorious blend of hip hop, concert dance, and martial arts. The speed and constant interaction between dancers are mind-boggling, and the audience responded to the most impressive feats of movement throughout.
I really enjoyed the narrative form of the work, and I saw glimpses of death, rebirth, heaven, and hell, all trying to answer the questions: How do you start over when given the opportunity? Will it be better or easier the second time around? Can you exist happily without the company of others? Can you exist without having to make difficult choices? The audience is asked to close its eyes a few times throughout the show, as white footlights become brighter and brighter. Those moments give you a quiet moment to reflect about what’s happening on stage, and it is a welcome respite.
The rest of the production’s artistic team added a great deal to the show, from the lighting design of Erik S Berry to the audio recordings and mastering of Johnny Nevin, Heart and Soul Productions. The soundtrack, by Artistic Director Jessica Deahr, is a delightfully eclectic mix of everything from the Electronic Hip Hop of Lorn and Dolor, folk music of The Mamas and the Papas, rap of Kanye West and many, many others.
Alongside KC Bevis are fellow Chicago Dance Crash company members Logan Howell, Kelsey Reiter, Monternez Rezell, Diamond Burdine, Molly Harris, Jack Halbert, Ibrahim Sabbi and Christian Castro. Also performing are Jimmy Weeden, Anna Goetz, Seye Magat-Carr, Jordan Ordonez, and Phil Wood. All were mesmerizing to watch and I hope to see them perform again in the very near future.
Chicago Dance Crash’s world premiere of Booms Day runs through September 10th, Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn Avenue. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for children 12 and younger- available here
About Chicago Dance Crash
Chicago Dance Crash was founded in 2002 and burst onto the scene with its fusion of classic and contemporary styles, including ballet, capoeira, breakdance, acrobatics, and contemporary dance. Since then, it has grown to be an important part of the Chicago dance scene and beyond.