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Tuesday
Mar272012

SunSpots: Vinx - A Musical Journey!

Stephanie's Just Hangin' Around!

 

Vinx:  One Man.  One Voice.  One Drum.

Stephanie!
Soleil@so-LAZE.com


We've probably all experienced the power of an artist who touches us in a special way, who seemingly journeys through life with us, who uplifts us when we need it most, provides a laugh or sets a mood.  Vinx has been that for me and he is a gift that I'd like to share with you.*

VinxI was first introduced to Vinx in 1991 when a girlfriend shared a cassette tape (hey - it was the early-90s!) containing five versions of Touch My Heart.  Passionate, emotional, lyrical - just Vinx, accompanied by Patrice Rushen on piano.  I was hooked and got my late fiancé, Edward Wilson, hooked, too.  Together, we went on a quest to find more - Rooms In My Fatha's House, I Love My Job, The Storyteller - hooked!

What is it about Vinx?  He's uncategorizable.  Jazz, R&B, Rock, Caribbean, Gospel-ish and stuff you just can't smack a convenient label on.  Ed vowed to wake our future children daily with I Feel Incredible.  I chose Tell My Feet (I Made It Home) to close Ed's funeral on an uplifting note.  When I drive down to Alabama, the song Why O Why is my best friend (okay - so is every Vinx CD I own)!  He runs the gamut.  It would be easy to go through his various CDs and extract an R&B album (Will Downing covered his tune Don'tcha Talk to Me Like That) that would easily fit within the mainstream.  However, to do so would mean eliminating the essence of Vinx: individuality and true artistry.

Five versions of a song?  That's not uncommon with Vinx, who sometimes performs a full show with only his drum.  Or he may be accompanied by other musicians and vocalists.  Or he may create intricate layers of sound with his voice - guitar, bass, drums and vocal harmonies - recorded live and looped to provide the coolest background for a new vocal take on an old favorite!

There is no better way to begin your Vinx musical journey with than An Intimate Jazz Jam on Friday, March 30th, 2012.  Only fifty guests will be able to attend this special event held in an historic Bronzeville mansion, with proceeds benefitting the Rotary Club of Chicago Southeast.  Brace yourself for an extraordinary journey with twists, turns and varied terrain, expertly guided by the lush, baritone voice that is Vinx.  Enjoy!

*Enter to win a pair of tickets to see Vinx at RCCSE's 15th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, March 31, 2012, 7pm at The Connection, 4321 S. Cottage Grove.  Deadline to enter is Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 8pm.  You must be a subscriber to enter!
Thursday
Feb162012

SunSpots: "Winter Fire" - Joffrey Ballet

Stephanie's Just Hangin' Around!

 

"Winter Fire" - Joffrey Ballet

Stephanie!
Soleil@so-LAZE.com

I will start by saying that I am no dance critic - I can really only say "WOW . . . " when seeing the strength, athleticism and grace of the dancers.  However, I will do my best to share what I saw, heard and felt!


Winter Fire is comprised of the works of three world-renowned choreographers in a mixed repertory program featuring two premieres and an audience favorite.  I've come to expect traditional, classical ballet from Joffrey, but this program was definitely contemporary.  The dancers' costumes throughout the performance were minimalist - nothing flashy or elaborate.  Thhe stage was less than minimalist - it was bare, with lighting and media projection as the only effects.  However, no theatrics were needed to enhance this passionate performance by Joffrey Ballet!


The program opened with In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, by William Forsythe (former Joffrey dancer).  This piece was created for the Paris Opera Ballet in 1987 and has a sort of industrial feel.  There are elements of classical ballet, but in a twisted - "deconstructed" - way.  The music by Thom Williams adds to the industrial feel with a sound reminiscent of The Art of Noise.




[caption id="attachment_1016" align="alignright" width="128"] Victoria Jaiani & Fabrice Calmels[/caption]

After the Rain, was quite a contrast! The live music by Arvo Pärt imparted a peaceful, sumptuously sensual tone, particularly in Part II, a pas de deux performed by Victoria Jaiani and Fabrice Calmels.  Their performance was beautiful - full of grace, sensuality, tenderness, strength and flexibility!  Again, in contrast to In the Middle, Christopher Wheeldon's choreography is more of a classical style.  The dancers' lines were bold and clean and the lifts were intricate works of art.  This 2010 Joffrey Premiere, which received unanimous critical acclaim, concluded with a standing ovation!




[caption id="attachment_1024" align="alignleft" width="154"]Infra - Christine Rocas & Lucas Segovia Christine Rocas & Lucas Segovia[/caption]

Winter Fire closed with Infra, a mix of the deconstructed  style of In the Middle and classical ballet.  Infra evoked feelings of disconnectedness and indifference.  A screen across the back wall displayed black and white pedestrian animations - people passing each other with no interaction.  (I'm surprised they didn't have headphones on or handheld devices . . . )  The pedestrians are on a subway platform with ebbs and flows of commuters and music punctuated with the sounds of a busy urban environment.  Like the pedestrians, the dancers generally had no interaction.  It felt as though they moved separately, even as they crowded the stage and dispersed - much like the animatronic display.  There were a few brief encounters during these breathtaking performances, but they ended tragically, and with a return to a disconnected existence.  Created following the 2005 London subway bombings, the emotional aftermath is prevalent throughout this work.  This is the US Premiere of Wayne McGregor's sumptuous work, premiered by the Royal Ballet of London in 2008.


Winter Fire is comprised of contrasting styles, music and emotions, but delivers consistently compelling, passionate performances.  The production continues through February 26th at the Auditorium Theatre.

Photos by Herbert Migdoll
Sunday
Feb122012

SunSpots: River North Dance Chicago

Stephanie's Just Hangin' Around!

 

Love Certainly Was at "Love is . . ." !

Stephanie!
Soleil@so-LAZE.com


 

River North Dance Chicago, critically acclaimed for their athletic, sensual and dynamic repertoire, unveiled two world premieres as it invited audiences to discover what “Love is . . .” at the company’s Valentine’s Weekend engagement at the Harris Theater.

Love is . . .The performances were beautiful, sensuous, emotional and passionate.  One of the highlights was The Good Goodbyes, featuring Frank Chaves’ luscious choreography and musical score by composer and Artistic Director of the celebrated Chicago Children’s Choir, Josephine Lee.  It was difficult to separate the music from the choreography, as the two forces of passion fueled each other and forged a visually and musically stunning performance.

The second half was all about the Tango!  Nothing says love and passion quite like the Tango and RNDC certainly made that statement clear!
Friday
Feb032012

To-DosLetter: Love is In the Air!

Stephanie's Just Hangin' Around!

 

Get Started with Valentine's Day Planning!

Love is in the air and Soleil's To-Dos has sniffed out some great ways to celebrate Valentine's Day!  From cooking classes, intimate concerts, chocolate and Champagne, tango music and tango dance lessons, free events and galas - we have something for singles, couples, young and old To-Do!  Here is a sampling:

Tropical Treat Nights - Enjoy a tasty treat while learning about the "sweet plants" of the Garfield Park Conservatory. Fact and flavor stations will be staffed by educators throughout the Conservatory, featuring chocolate, chicle, vanilla, cinnamon, chewing gum, banana and more. Come taste your way through their tropical paradise!

Chocolate & Champagne Tour - Guests will sample chocolate treats with Champagne themes, as well as glasses of Champagne, and will meet special Visiting Chocolatiers, and will learn the history and fun facts about both chocolate and Champagne.

Odyssey Valentine's Dinner & Cruise - Nothing's more magnificent than a Valentine's Day Weekend celebration on the water aboard Chicago's most luxurious cruising vessel, Odyssey. Distinctive cuisine. Live entertainment. Dancing cheek to cheek. Breathtaking views. Laughter and intimate conversation. There are different packages; choose from dates on February 10-12 and 14.

Diego Amador Trio - Experience the passion of flamenco-infused jazz!

Love IsRiver North Dance Presents: "Love is . . . Celebration" - River North Dance Chicago, critically acclaimed for their athletic, sensual and dynamic repertoire, unveils two world premieres and invites audiences to discover what "Love is . . . " at the company's Valentine's Weekend engagement!

From Bean to Bar: The Science, History & Culture of Chocolate - This tantalizing adventure will surely have you looking at our favorite tropical treat - chocolate - with fresh eyes and taste buds! Participants will taste their way through the natural and cultural history of the cacao plant, and discover how we get from the fruit of a tropical tree to the tasty treat we all love. Impress your valentine with your new knowledge of chocolate or better yet, sign up together!

World Kitchen: From the Heart - Indulge in decadent dishes and sweet treats, made "From the Heart" and perfect for sharing with friends, family, or your special Valentine!

Tribute to Vesta WilliamsLegendary Songstress: A Tribute to Vesta Williams - Featuring Angela Winbush, Regina Belle, Shirley Murdock and Miki Howard.

Chicago WinterDance: Tangata - Vastly pared down from previous years, this will be one of two WinterDance sessions this year. :=( (The other is on February 18th). While you're there, peek in on Luminous Field by Luftwerk - a digital canvas of light and geometrical form! Musically choreographed lights and dramatic images will reflect off The Bean and surrounding buildings.

Valentine's Day Couples Cooking Class - Perfect for Valentine's Day: Join Parties That Cook at Charlie Baggs in the Belden Stratford, and get lucky by making a meal that's sure to be both romantic and memorable. You and your partner will heat up the kitchen as you learn cooking techniques, sip prosecco and prepare an array of international gourmet small plates with hands-on instruction.

Anti-Valentine's Day PartyAnti-Valentine's Day Party - Who knew bitter could be so fun! Chicago Reader makes it so at their third annual event - and for only $14!! The Chicago Reader teams with 2nd Story to bring you the best bad date stories to turn your Valentine's Day frown upside down. See someone you fancy? Buy them a valentine and a derby girl will deliver it for you!

Valentine's Love Affair: The Isley Brothers & Chrisette Michele - I think this is an extraordinarily odd combo - perfect for a May-December or Cougar relationship!

All About LoveAll About Love - f/ Keith Sweat, Fantasia and Eric Benet - Eric Benet, alone, makes this worth the price of admission!

Sex, Love & The Second City: A Romantic Dot Comedy - From The Second City, the legendary comedy theatre and the creators of the touring hit Sex & The Second City, comes a play about relationships in the age of social networking. There are Plenty of Fish in the sea, but can we all live in eHarmony? Or are our lives too much of an open (Face)book? Find out in this hilarious new show at Up Comedy Club!

While this list should get you well on your way to planning a perfect evening, we will continue to update our Valentine's Day listings, so visit often!  Whatever you decide To-Do, have a fabulous Valentine's Day celebration!

Stephanie!
Soleil@So-LAZE.com
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We hope you enjoy our To-DosLetters and website and that you will share them with your friends, family and colleagues.  And when you attend an event that you heard about through us (shoot, even if you heard about from someone else (okay, just jokin'!)), tell 'em you heard about it from Soleil's (so-LAZE) To-Dos!
Monday
Jan232012

In the News: Victory Gardens appoints Geoffrey Jackson Scott as its Director of New Play Development 

Victory Gardens appoints Geoffrey Jackson Scott as its Director of New Play Development




Geoffrey Jackson Scott Geoffrey Jackson Scott

Today Victory Gardens Theater announces the appointment of Director of New Play Development Geoffrey Jackson Scott.  In this newly-created position, Geoffrey Jackson Scott will serve to further develop Victory Gardens as the home to bold voices of world premiere theaterHe will be responsible for the cultivation, development and production of new plays and theater work, and dramaturgy.  He will also manage the literary office.  His position is within the VG Artistic Department, which also includes Artistic Director Chay Yew, Associate Artistic Director Sandy Shinner and Associate Producer Will Rogers.

“We are extremely pleased to have Geoffrey complete our artistic staff and return to his hometown of Chicago. I've loved working and collaborating with him on new plays for many years. I know he will bring his immeasurable experience, commitment and passion for new theatre work to VictoryGardens,” comments Chay Yew.

Geoffrey Jackson Scott has spent the last decade supporting the development of some of the field's most exciting contemporary theater makers.  Most recently, he spent eight seasons at New York Theatre Workshop under the leadership of Artistic Director James C. Nicola, first as Literary Fellow through its Emerging Artist Fellowship program from 2004-2006 and subsequently as Literary Associate from 2006-2012.  At NYTW, Jackson Scott supported the development and/or production of new work from companies, playwrights and directors such as Elevator Repair Service, UNIVERSES, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Edith Freni, Jordan Seavey, Thomas Bradshaw, Betty Shamieh, Matthew Lopez, Jackie Sibblies Drury, Christopher Oscar Peña, May Adrales, Andrew Ondrecjak and Julin Mesri. 

From 2007-2009, Jackson Scott served as co-curator of The Martin E. Segal Theatre Center’s Prelude Festival.  During his tenure, the festival expanded to more directly foster an environment in which artists and audiences could gather and engage with those issues and concerns that motivate contemporary creative work.  As Prelude co-curator, Jackson Scott presented the work of artists such as Judith Malina/The Living Theatre, Aaron Landsman, John Jesurun, Dan Safer/Witness Relocation, Phil Soltanoff/Mad Dog Experimental, National Theatre of the United States of America, David Levine, Richard Foreman and Marina Abramovic. 

Prior to New York, Jackson Scott resided in Chicago where he spent a season in residence with Roadworks Productions as Associate Artistic Director.  He holds a BA in Theatre with a Concentration in Directing from Columbia College Chicago and an MA in Media Studies with a dual concentration in Technology and Society and Visual Culture and Cultural Studies from New York University.

Soleil's To-Dos welcomes you home, Geoffrey!

 
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