River North Chicago dancers dazzle with showmanship, skill

Wadsworth Auditorium was host to a rare and impressive spectacle last Saturday evening as the River North Chicago Dance Company performed.

According to junior Ahmed Sheikh, coordinator of the show's sponsor Limelight and Accents of the Activities Commission, River North's style of dancing, "[incorporates] elements of jazz and modern dance."

This complementary combination of styles blended with the eclectic music, stylish costumes and raw talent of the River North dancers made for a night of impressive entertainment.

The first number of the night, entitled "Uhuru," featured the River North dancers in white costumes performing to "an afrobeat style of music" as described by the River North Chicago Web site. Indeed, the song possessed elements of both Africana and jazz music, featuring pulsing beats and energetic rhythms. The dancers moved swiftly and gracefully across the stage, incorporating skillful leaps and twists into their act.

When "Uhuru" ended, the audience, filled with Geneseo students, staff and community members, erupted into applause and cheers for the amazing display. According to the dance company's Web site, "Uhuru" is a world premier piece being featured for the first time in the River North's performances this year.

One of the most beautiful dance sequences of the evening featured a male and a female member of River North performing to a melodic Slavic song. Their slow but graceful movements in the soft lights of the stage went beyond performing a dance to telling a story that followed along with the moods of love and despair present in the music.

Waves of applause from the audience followed this dance's completion, as was the case for every other performance throughout the night.

The intermission following the first half of River North's show had audience members impatiently waiting to see what the dance company would do to top its previous impressive numbers.

As Sheikh walked through the crowd greeting ticket holders, he said, "The second half's going to be [even] better."

Sheikh's promise did not prove false as the three remaining dance numbers elicited even more applause, cheers and impressed whistles than their predecessors.

The final segment of the show was by far the most remarkable. It was a dance performance divided into five sections, each of which featured a different musical mood and performance style.

This multi-faceted finale seemed to convey the story of a group of people moving from desolation and gloom to an energetic celebration of life via a tribal ceremony. It was a very large, skillful and moving dance number that resulted in a standing ovation from the audience.

The River North Chicago Dance Company recital proved a very successful and impressive event. More information about the dance company can be found on their Web site, Rivernorthchicago.com.