Spring invariably marks the arrival of an action-packed dance season in Chicago. It just seems that as the temperatures climb a slew of companies – local, national and international – fly onto the stage. Here, in chronological order, is a look at what’s in store for the city’s dance lovers from March through May:
Visceral Dance Chicago: (March 5 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in collaboration with the Chicago Philharmonic; April 8 at the Harris in its SpringFour concert): The Chicago Philharmonic, led by Scott Speck, will join forces with Visceral Dance Chicago and artistic director/choreographer Nick Pupillo for one performance only of “The Dream,” a theatrical re-imagining of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “The Dream of a Ridiculous Man,” a tale of redemption and renewal. The score for this convergence of dance, music and literature will be drawn from the work of Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, Osvaldo Golijov, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Minoru Miki, John Cage, Ennio Morricone and Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood. Then, on April 8, Visceral will return to the Harris for its SpringFour concert, featuring the world premiere of Pupillo’s “Synapse,” an LED-light immersive experience set to the driving house beat of Darryl Hoffman, as well as the return of his “Atlas,” set to music by the Turin String Quartet. The program also will include the technically challenging “Minor Threat” from Montreal-based choreographer Mark Godden, set to Mozart’s “Piano Concerto in D minor,” and “Changes,” a 2014 work by the gifted Spanish choreographer Monica Cervantes that explores the fast paced relationships in contemporary life. Visit www.harristheaterchicago.org.
Malpaso Dance Company of Havana (March 9-11 at the Dance Center of Columbia College): One of Cuba’s most highly regarded contemporary dance troupes, the troupe will perform Canadian choreographer Aszure Barton’s “Indomitable Waltz,” set to music by Romanian composer Alexander Balanescu, Britain’s Michael Nyman and Germany’s Nils Frahm, as well as “24 Hours and a Dog,” by Malpaso co-founder Osnel Delgado, set to music by Grammy Award-winning Cuban-American jazz composer Arturo O’Farrill. Visit www.colum.edu/dance-center.
Thodos Dance Chicago in “Full Circle” (March 11 at the Auditorium Theatre): This one-night-only performance will mark Thodos Dance Chicago’s 25th anniversary as well its final performance as a permanent ensemble-based contemporary dance company. To celebrate, the company – which has helped develop and showcase the work of many new choreographers, and also devised highly successful narrative works about everything from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair to the relationship between Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan – will perform Melissa Thodos’ “The Wheel Trilogy” (the 1986 “Reaching There,” the 2011 “Getting There” and “There,” a world premiere). Also on the program will be the Chicago premiere of “Nos Duraturi,” by the late West Coast pioneer, Bella Lewitzky, plus three short works (Brian Enos’ “Acid Reign,” company member Briana Robinson’s “Uncovering,” and Thodos’ “Changing Strangers”). Visit www.thodosdancechicago.org.
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Spring Series (March 16-19 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance): The company, one of the first in the U.S. to perform the work of Nacho Duato, will pay homage to its two-decade relationship with this acclaimed Spanish-born choreographer by reviving “Jardi Tancat” (1983), his exquisite piece for three couples set to Catalan music recorded by vocalist María del Mar Bonet i Verdaguer, as well as a duet from “Multiplicity.Forms of Silence and Emptiness” (1999), his two-act tribute to composer J. S. Bach. Also on the program: A reprise of Lucas Crandall’s full-company work, “Imprint” (2016), with improvised live percussion by Hubbard Street dancer David Schultz, and Canadian master Crystal Pite’s “Solo Echo” (2012), to music for cello and piano by Brahms. Visit www.hubbardstreetdance.com
Ballet 5:8 in “Scarlet” (March 18 and 19 at the Athenauem Theatre): This full-length ballet, a dance/film hybrid, spins off “The Scarlet Letter,” Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic 1850 novel about Hester Prynne, the young woman in a Puritan society who becomes pregnant out of wedlock, and must wrestle with her guilt and grief in that judgmental society. Choreographed by Julianna Rubio Slager, and set to the music of Charles Ives, the piece blends an original spoken word performance by Kylla Pate with film elements by Preston Miller. Visit www.athenaeumtheatre.org
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (March 22-26 at the Auditorium Theatre): An annual Chicago tradition for 47 years, the visit by this ever-dazzling company, led by artistic director Robert Battle, will feature four different programs, all of which will conclude with Ailey’s enduring masterpiece, “Revelations.” Program A will include “Deep” (Mauro Bigonzetti’s piece to music by Ibeyi, twin sisters who sing in the Nigerian language Yoruba and English; “Walking Mad” (Johan Inger’s wild take on Ravel’s “Bolero”); and “Ella” (Battle’s brief piece set to a live concert version recording of Ella Fitzgerald singing “Airmail Special”). Program B will feature “r-Evolution, Dream.” (Hope Boykin’s work inspired by the sermons and speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (recorded by Tony Award winner Leslie Odom,Jr., of “Hamilton” fame), with music by Ali Jackson; “Masakela Language” (Ailey’s work on the theme of “race-induced violence” set to the music of Hugh Masakela; and the pas de deux from Christopher Wheeldon’s “After the Rain,” to the music of Arvo Part. Program C will feature “The Winter in Lisbon” (Billy Wilson’s celebration of four decades of Dizzy Gillespie’s music); “Untitled America” (Kyle Abraham’s piece about the impact of the prison system on African-American families), and “In/Side”(Battle’s brief piece set to Nina Simone’s rendition of “Wild is the Wind”). Program D will feature “The Winter in Lisbon” and “r-Evolution, Dream.” Visit www.auditoriumtheatre.org
Giordano Dance Chicago (March 31-April 1 at the Harris Theatre for Music and Dance): This troupe, which invariably brings high-octane energy to the stage, will perform “Lost in this World,” a world premiere by Liz Imperio (a choreographer for Jennifer Lopez and Gloria Estefan); a reworked version of Frank Chaves’ “Grusin Suite”; a reprise of Peter Chu’s “Divided Against,” to original music by Jean-François (Djeff) Houle; “A Ritual Dynamic,” Jon Lehrer’s signature work featuring all 16 Giordano dancers; “Sneaky Pete,” Brock Clawson’s film noir-style piece; and “The Man That Got Away,” Sherry Zunker’s darkly comic “pas de deux for one.” Visit www.harristheatrechicago.org
The Joffrey Ballet in “Global Visionaries” (April 26-May 7 at the Auditorium Theatre): For this mixed repertory program the company will perform a world premiere piece (as yet unnamed) by that Swedish mischief-maker, Alexander Ekman, whose surreal and satirical ballets, “Episode 13” and “Tulle,” have proven popular with Joffrey audiences. Also on the bill will be the Chicago premiere of “The Miraculous Mandarin,” a tale of urban corruption and seduction set to the 1926 score by Bela Bartok and choreographed by Yuri Possokhov, resident choreographer for the San Francisco Ballet whose “RAkU,” “Bells” and “Don Quixote” have all been performed by the Joffrey. Finally, there will be a reprise of “Mammatus,” the sensational work by acclaimed choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, set to music by Michael Gordon — a ballet that gives Hitchcock’s film “The Birds” a run for its money. Visit www.joffrey.org.
Jessica Lang Dance in “The Wanderer” (May 3 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance): Lang, the choreographer who last season created “Tesseracts of Time” on a commission from the Harris Theater and Chicago Architecture Biennial, will now showcase her 2014 piece, “The Wanderer,” a contemporary story ballet set to a live performance of Franz Schubert’s glorious operatic song cycle, “Die schöne Müllerin.” Using elements of classical ballet, the work is notable for its striking design, with trees suspended from the rafters to expose their stringy roots. Visit www.harristheaterchicago.org
Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg, Russia in “Red Giselle” (May 19-21 at the Auditorium Theatre): This full-length work, first performed here in 2000, inaugurated the relationship between Chicago and choreographer Boris Eifman’s company, which is now celebrating its 40th anniversary. Marked by Eifman’s unique and virtuosic ballet vocabulary, and his devotion to stunning design, “Red Giselle” is a feverish love letter to one of the 20th century’s greatest ballerinas, Olga Spessivtseva (1895 – 1991), whose tragic life not only suggested modern parallels to the classic “Giselle,” but also involved major political upheaval, mental illness and matters of celebrity. Visit www.auditoriumtheatre.org