It begins with a sweet yet sexy dance duet to Deniece Williams’ 1981 tender ballad “Silly” that is as satisfying to watch as the soulful singer’s emotionally rich and velvety voice is to hear. Next, the joint is not only jumpin’, it’s Lindy Hoppin’, Big Apple-in’ and Gospel Clappin’ to the Big Band jazz rhythms of black bandleader Jimmie Lunceford and his Orchestra’s “Tain’t What You Do, It’s the Way That Cha Do It.” Grace Jones’ hypnotic rendition of “La Vie en Rose” is the musical backdrop to a subtle samba-like shuffle that along with designer Jonathan Belcher’s lights and scenery—hundreds of vertical, metallic strips that reflect light like a disco ball—evokes the easygoing and playful ambiance of a French discotheque circa the seventies. And that’s just the beginning. Somehow, acclaimed choreographer Reggie Wilson and his Fist & Heel Performance Group, who integrate Afro and Caribbean dance forms with postmodern technique in the Museum of Contemporary Art’s premiere of their “The Tale: Npinpee Nckutchie and the Tail of the Golden Dek,” also fold into this musical and movement social dance experiment the Electric Slide, traditional spirituals, Chicago-style Stepping and more pelvic gyrations than you would find in a Fosse revival.Sexier than “Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk,” but just as socially relevant in its celebration and exploration of black dance traditions and the human search for connection, “The Tale…” sees renaissance choreographer Reggie Wilson back in Chicago for the first time since his MCA debut in 2003. A series of workshops, post-show discussions and roundtables will be offered in conjunction with the premiere. (Fabrizio O. Almeida)
MCA Theater, 220 East Chicago, (312)397-4010. Thu-Sat 7:30pm. $16-$24. This production is now closed.