Redmoon has a new home in Pilsen where it is staging its 50-minute 2013 “Winter Pageant” directed by John Musial and Will Bishop, delighting audiences with a melange of highly original props, masks and costumes.
This “Winter Pageant” tells a myth inspired by the poem “The Conference of the Birds” by Farid ud-Din Atta.
Truth to tell, the visuals dazzle so much that little story line is needed.
You sit in the bleachers watching a spirited parade of talent, mainly dancers, strut their stuff.
Indeed they have a lot to show. What makes it so much more interesting is that it brings together varied East and West dance traditions from some of the many ethnic subcultures of Chicago into a unified performance.
This includes: The Happiness Club of Chicago (hip hop), Kalapriya Dance (Indian), Indonesian Dance of Illinois, Pineapple Dance Studio (belly dancers), Mexican clown artist Fernando Córdova Hernández, show stopper aerial dancer Helena Reynolds, with music by the surf-rock band The San Andreas Fault.
The visual thrill begins before the equivalent of the curtain going up. Imagine a basketball court-sized hall with bleachers and white cushions on the floor for seating. What seems to be a tree of pear-shaped lights is in the center. Swings decorated with garlands reach high up to the ceiling and actors and visitors are enjoying using them. Bird sounds come from a larger than life phonograph above the hall. A few actors in bird beaks walk around the hall interacting with those children who aren’t in the center making things with Redmoon staff. A white clad flute player is heard above the din. A band of bears playing electric guitars is on the ready by the side. This is a carnival waiting to happen!
Through masks, machines, song and dance, the cast of 40 performers tells the story of a flock of birds that live a playful, happy life protected by their sacred Tree of Light until the Light is stolen by an evil Raven.
A pigeon and dove are chosen to go to the Underworld to retrieve the light.
They and we encounter moving birch trees, deer, monkeys and more.
The ensemble in monkey masks joyfully performs the Balinese Monkey Dance that you can see in this YouTube clip below.
Time whizzes by to the ever so happy and breathtaking ending when the Phoenix, aerial dancer Helena Reynolds,
comes in a door carried by a lift truck with a tall crane and dazzles all with her graceful athleticism, as she brings back the light.
Wholesome and creative, Redmoon’s Winter Pageant is a show every Chicago family should get to see at least once, if not annually.
There are only five performances left and its well worth your time to clear your calendar to catch one of them.
Redmoon, 2120 South Jefferson Street
Friday December 20, 7 PM
Saturday December 21, 4 and 7 PM
Sunday December 22, 1:30 and 4 PM
For information or tickets call the Redmoon Box Office at 312 850 8440 x 123 or visit the Redmoon Theater website.
Photos: Al Zayed