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Urban Legends

Dancers from opposite sides of the Atlantic duet in slave-freedom celebration.

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Dance companies from the U.S. and Africa team together to re-enact the haunting legacy of African colonial history in tonight's production of The Scales of Memory at Playhouse Square. Filled with tribal beats, spoken word, and expressive moves, the dance features Senegal's Compagnie Jant-Bi and New York's Urban Bush Women. "They have a shared community history: the Africans who mourned the people who left and never came back, and the African Americans who lost their heritage," says Pam Young, the executive director of Dance Cleveland. To make the dance steps authentic, the New York troupe traveled to the West African coast to soak up the aura of old slave-trade posts, while the Senegalese ensemble toured a former American plantation. The trips helped shape the show's story of the fight against oppression in Africa and, during the Civil War, in the American South. And one of the dancers is ex-Plain Dealer arts reporter Paloma McGregor, who, three years ago, won a coveted spot in the 14-member New York group over hundreds of other dancers. "I remember her calling and saying, 'I'm an Urban Bush Woman!' We were screaming with joy that night," says Young. "Dreams can really come true, if you have the heart and soul to work for it." The curtain goes up at 8 tonight at the Ohio Theater, 1519 Euclid Avenue. Tickets are $15 to $40. Call 216-241-6000 or visit www.playhousesquare.org.
Sat., March 1, 8 p.m., 2008

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