Visceral Dance Chicago returns to Harris Theater

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When I arrived at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance last season to catch the inaugural performance of Visceral Dance Chicago, I had no expectations. I was there primarily because I had received an email from Brian Sidney Bembridge, the award-winning set and lighting designer whose work I have admired for many years. And while I knew absolutely nothing about this new, contemporary dance company, he said he was doing the lighting for its debut evening and thought the work was exceptional.

By the end of the evening I was totally blown away.

VISCERAL DANCE CHICAGO When: Nov. 21 and 22 at 7:30 p.m. Where: Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph Tickets: $25-$75 Info: (312) 334-7777;

It takes a certain self-confidence to make your debut on the stage of the Harris Theater — the place that such well-established troupes as Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, River North Dance and Giordano Dance Chicago call home. But Visceral was more than ready to compete. And now they’re back, performing this weekend.

Visceral’s program will feature three world premieres — by Banning Bouldin, Harrison McEldowney, and artistic director Nick Pupillo — as well as the duet, “Mabul,” a company premiere by Ohad Naharin, the Israeli choreographer whose work is part of Hubbard Street’s repertoire. Completing the lineup will be a reprise of last season’s “Changes” by Monica Cervantes (formerly of Luna Negra Dance Theatre) and the galvinic “Impetere” by Pupillo.

Bouldin’s abstract “Souvenir” is inspired by the concept of time and memory. McEldowney’s high energy “Cool Love HD” depicts love, loss, and happiness with a surprise, interactive multi-media component. “My Realm,” a solo, but with two casts (one female, one male), was developed by Pupillo with cellist Desiree Miller (who performs her original score live on stage). Naharin’s piece explores the strength, beauty and deep emotional weight between the male-female dancers.

Nick Pupillo, founder and artistic director of Visceral Dance Chicago, graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Science in Ballet. In 2001, he joined Giordano Dance Chicago and toured nationally and internationally with the troupe for three years. Pupillo decided to train and mentor young talent by developing the prestigious Visceral Studio Company which he opened in 2006. He founded Visceral Dance Chicago in the fall of 2013.

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