Muntu Dance Theatre celebrates four decades of bringing passionately energetic African and African-American dance and music to Chicago audiences at the Harris Theater this weekend. Don’t let the “gala” title fool you into thinking this will be a stuffy, sit-silently-in-your-seat affair. Muntu—the word means “the essence of humanity”–brings the joy and power of community into vibrant motion, the audience included. And with forty years of research and presentation of Caribbean and African folklore, music and dance, there’s a lot to celebrate. The program adds dashes of contemporary choreography to the culturally traditional repertory, courtesy of Jeffery Page, who has created dances for Beyonce and performed in “Fela!” and boasts warm reception on “So You Think You Can Dance.” You’ll also see pieces by Monique Haley and Muntu’s Artistic Director Amaniyea Payne and Assistant AD Idy Ciss. (Sharon Hoyer)
At the Harris Theater, 205 East Randolph, (312)334-7777. Saturday, July 21 at 7pm. $15-$150.