Original "Wizard of Oz" Prequel Story Told Through Lens of Dance

Aug 23, 2018

DUBUQUE, Iowa – University of Dubuque Heritage Center continues its sixth annual Live at Heritage Center Performing Arts Series with acclaimed professional dance company Chicago Dance Crash (CDC). Founded in 2002, CDC has morphed into the Midwest’s premiere fusion style hip-hop/contemporary dance ensemble. With 14 dancers, CDC will perform its signature full-length work, “The Bricklayers of Oz,” showcasing the company’s unmatched athleticism and accessibility.

WHAT:            Live at Heritage Center Performing Arts Series – Chicago Dance Crash performs “The Bricklayers of Oz”

WHEN:            Friday, Sept. 21 – 7:30 p.m.

WHERE:          John and Alice Butler Hall, Heritage Center, University of Dubuque

TICKETS:        Adult $25-$30 advance/$30-$35 day of show; Alumni/Military $20 advance/$25 day of show; Child/Student $10 advance/$15 day of show

Who sweeps up the confetti in Munchkinland? Who paves the roads and waters the flowers?

As the flagship production of CDC’s 15th anniversary season, “The Bricklayers of Oz” returns to CDC’s roots of big pop culture with an original prequel to L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz. The origin story of the yellow brick road is told with breakdancing and hip-hop for all ages through a production that was recognized by Dance Magazine as “The Most Inventive New Work of 2017.” It’s an action-packed, lighthearted street tale of the lesser known laborers that toil within The Land of Oz with narration and original lyrics by Chicago rapper Al Tamper. CDC’s hip-hop fusion style, full of flips and spins, helps tell the story of the Wicked Witch of the East and her power-hungry plan to coax others into building her magical road, followed by the realization and uprising of an otherwise ignored group of people.

A 75-minute production in two acts, “The Bricklayers of Oz" was conceived and choreographed by CDC Artistic Director Jessica Deahr, who also portrays the Witch alongside a band of “skeezers” (aka the bricklayers) and “munchkins.” A small town jazz dancer turned big city B-girl, Deahr’s international performance career has developed into one of the country’s fastest-rising choreography catalogues. Described by the Chicago Tribune as “…brash, funky, bright and street friendly in style,” Deahr’s movement invention and teaching style pulls inspiration from ballet, breaking, hip-hop, capoeira, and a touch of the old school jazz forms that nurtured her.

The Chicago Sun-Times raves, “There is something about Jessica Deahr’s ingenious new hip-hop dance-theater piece that is so imaginative, so playfully revisionist, and so superbly realized by all artists involved, that [“The Bricklayers of Oz”] feels like an instant classic all its own.”

Every so often a company bursts onto the dance scene with such original talent and drive that a whole new genre is born; and so it has been with Chicago Dance Crash. Within the last several years, CDC has been featured on Italian, French, and American television as well as nationally recognized publications including Dance Magazine and The Huffington Post. They are a two-time winner of the Black Theatre Alliance Award for Choreography and they were selected by critics as “The Best Dance Company in Chicago” by the Chicago Reader. CDC’s recent touring engagements include appearances in New York City, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Iowa City, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Boston, Detroit, and Buffalo.

Dubuque-based dance group Dreaming Allegiance will open for CDC. Founded in 2015, Dreaming Allegiance is a group of six performing artists composed of Cameron Ramsey, Nehemiah Hargrove, Nick Anderson, Curtis Schwartz, Ranita Anderson, and Garrick Johnson II, an adjunct dance instructor at UD. Ramsey founded the troupe with a purpose of inspiring others by sharing their skills and passion for dance and the arts.  While working together as dancers at Diamond Jo Casino’s Club 84, they decided to combine and leverage their talents as a local dance company.

Prior to the performance, members of Chicago Dance Crash will deliver a free pre-show lecture from 6:30 to 7:00 p.m. in Babka Theatre, adjacent to Butler Hall, offering insights on the company and their work as well as time for questions and answers.

Chicago Dance Crash can still be chosen as part of a flexible season ticket package or single tickets are available Monday through Friday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Farber Box Office, Heritage Center, University of Dubuque, 2255 Bennett Street; by phone at 563.585.SHOW; or online at www.dbq.edu/heritagecenter.

Patrons are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance. New for 2018-2019, all tickets increase by $5.00 beginning at midnight the day of performances.

This engagement is supported, in part, by the William P. Woodward Visiting Artist-in-Residence Endowment. Also, Chicago Dance Crash community youth outreach programming support has been provided by the Dubuque Racing Association and associated casinos, Q Casino and Diamond Jo Casino.