MUST SEEREVIEWSTheatre ReviewsTom Williams

Last Dancer Standing (More Than Hip-Hop)

A World Premiere.

Written, Directed & Choreographed by Rueben D. Echoles.

Produced by Black Ensemble as part of

The Dance Theater season.

At Black Ensemble Theater, Chicago.

A worthy story about reality TV gives dancers the vehicle to excel.

Departing from their bio/musicals about R & B stars, Rueben D. Echoles has written a ambitious book to enhance his desire to feature modern dance. This musical is framed by a reality show TV show that features a season-long dance contest wherein the last dancer standing will win $10,000. We get to see the behind-the-scenes drama of a black originated show that becomes apparent the network doesn’t want to succeed. Sebastion (Andre Teamer) is the producer/owner of the show and one of the judges.

In this soapbox  drama, the show’s host, Radiant Michaels (Alexis J. Roston) has issues with her mother’s being on the show.   Evette Michaels (Sharl Addison). The cast of dancers, divided into grows for the contest, have personal issues. Add  R & B singer and show judge Justin Paul (Deverin Deonte) pinning for Radiant and we have enough drama to suppliment the dancing. this strong ensemble consists of: Kylah Frye, Linnea Norwood, Lemond A. Hayes, Brian Nelson, Charlotte Drover, Brian Boller, Trequon Tate, Michael Adkins, Junior White, Alexis Aker and Shonee Muse.

But the real star here is the ensemble  of dancers who manically translate Echoles’ varied choreography into a sweeping rhymthic movements worthy of appreciation. I always thought that the Black Ensemble needed stronger choreography to compliment the terrific orchestra and the fabulous singers. And this year, under  Rueben D. Echoles.’ leadership, dance has found its place at the Black Ensemble. Kudos!

Smartly, the songs were catchy but relatively unknow but were dancable. There is a reasonable mystery as who will be the last dancer standinng. But, that went to the stronest dancer (in my view). There is a touch of politics, some TV racism issues that give the show credulity. But it is all about dance and these dances deliver.

Highly Recommended.

Tom Williams.

Jeff Recommended.

At Black Ensemble Theater, 4450 N. Clark, Chicago, IL, call 773-769-4451,, tickets $55 -$65, Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Friday & Saturdays at 8 pm, matinees on Saturdays & Sundys at 3 pm, running time is 2hours, 35 minutes withintermission.