River North Dance Chicago premieres ‘Eva’

 

Singer Eva Cassidy inspired the new River North Dance Chicago show.  Credit: Cheryl Mann
Singer Eva Cassidy inspired the new River North Dance Chicago show.
Credit: Cheryl Mann

Like many listeners, Frank Chaves didn’t discover the music of Eva Cassidy until after her death in 1996. The singer, whose repertoire ranged from jazz standards to blues, pop, folk and country tunes, passed away at the age of 33 of melanoma. Since her untimely death, her stunning voice and tragic story have led to much wider recognition.

This weekend at the Annenberg Center, River North Dance Chicago will premiere Chaves’ new piece, “Eva,” which was commissioned by Dance Celebration for its 30th anniversary season. Chaves, River North’s artistic director, was first exposed to Cassidy’s music through Randy Swartz, artistic director of Dance Celebration.

“I fell in love with her voice,” Chaves says. “She has the voice of an angel and a gift for making you really hear and understand lyrics in a new way, a very clear and intense way.”

“Eva” features four of Cassidy’s covers: Sting’s “Fields of Gold,” the blues classic “Stormy Monday,” the jazz standard “Autumn Leaves” and the gospel favorite “Wade in the Water.” While Chaves was more interested in responding to her voice than to her story with his choreography, her loss is felt through his use of vocal snippets as transitions between the songs. “It was challenging because Eva wasn’t known for talking,” Chaves says, “but I wanted to create the sense that you were attending a live concert. It’s a little haunting, but I think it’s also tender and warming to the soul to hear her voice as if she were there.”

The remainder of the program comprises three Philadelphia premieres and a pair of return performances. “The Good Goodbyes,” set to an original solo piano suite by Chicago Children’s Choir director Josephine Lee, is about relationships within the dance community, while “Renatus” is a striking solo for a female dancer wearing a scarlet evening gown with a 30-foot train. “Three” is a male trio dance with an Asian-inflected score, created by Robert Battle shortly before he was named artistic director of the renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Finally, Chaves’ “Forbidden Boundaries” features the entire company playing tug-of-war with a stretchy, ripped shirt.

The full program, Chaves says, represents the diversity of River North Dance Chicago. “I don’t want people to just come see River North; I want people to feel River North,” he says. “Our mission is to create and present a highly artistic program that is also accessible and entertaining, even for an audience who might be afraid of dance.”

River North Dance Chicago
April 4-6
Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
3680 Walnut St.
$20-$55, 215-898-3900
www.annenbergcenter.org


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

What New Yorkers need to know about the…

A measles outbreak in New York City has spread further, the health department said Wednesday.

Local

Bloomberg launches $50 million anti-gun violence effort

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to spend $50 million on a grassroots anti-gun violence network to challenge the National Rifle Association.

Local

East Village woman fights off rape attempt from…

An East Village woman fought off an attempted rapist that she woke to find standing on her bed over the weekend, police said.

International

Nearly 300 missing after South Korean ferry capsizes

Almost 300 people were missing after a ferry capsized off South Korea Wednesday, in what could be the country's biggest maritime disaster in over 20 years.

Movies

Curtain raiser: The Tribeca Film Festival arrives this…

The Tribeca Film Festival begins its two-week run in Lower Manhattan on Thursday, boasting dozens and dozens of films of all stripes.

The Word

Paul Walker's brothers will replace him in 'Fast…

Ever since a car crash took Paul Walker's life, fans have wondered what the "Fast & Furious" franchise would do without one of its most beloved stars.

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

Going Out

Accomplice Tour: New York (Spoiler Alert)

When I signed up for the Accomplice show tour, I had no idea what I was in for. But every grimy job comes with a great reward.

NHL

Top 5 Philadelphia storylines for Flyers-Rangers

The slate is clean for the Flyers and the Rangers. Which is good news for the Flyers.

NFL

Jets confident despite Chris Johnson leaving with no…

Jets fans clamored for a playmaker on offense all offseason. It looked like they were going to land that player on Tuesday when Chris Johnson…

NBA

Knicks, Nets rivalry never materialized despite national attention

When the NBA schedule was released, the league anticipated an intense rivalry between the Nets and Knicks with all four games slated for national TV.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

Wellbeing

Could a facelift give you the edge at…

It's not just women lining up for procedures.

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Personalize your massage at a private practice

CityTouch customizes spa treatments to meet client's needs.