The passion for dance in Chicago has grown exponentially during the past 20 years. And those with lingering doubts that this sports-minded city of broad shoulders can also embrace that art in all its many forms need only consider the thousands who gathered in late August for the finale of the Chicago Dancing Festival in Millennium Park. The adventurous dance programming at major venues this Fall is a further indication of the intensifying dance fever here, as Chicago-based companies, along with visiting companies from around the globe, will be on display. Here is a look at just a sampling of the major events:
THE JOFFREY BALLET IN “ROMEO AND JULIET” (Oct. 13-23 at the Auditorium Theatre): While much of the Joffrey buzz is about Christopher Wheeldon’s re-imagined version of “The Nutcracker,” to have its world premiere in December, the return of the company’s “Romeo and Juliet” — Polish choreographer Krzysztof Pastor’s stunningly modern take on the classic — is not to be missed. Set to Prokofiev’s score, one of the finest in all ballet, Pastor has woven the story of the fabled star-crossed lovers into three starkly drawn, cinematic periods of 20th century Italian history awash in political strife and war. The Joffrey dancers are exceptional actors as well as dancers, and this production also is an ideal way to salute the ongoing citywide Shakespeare 400 project honoring the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death. Visit www.auditoriumtheatre.org.
HUBBARD STREET DANCE CHICAGO (Nov. 17-20 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance): The company’s Fall season will feature two world premieres — one by resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo (his 15th piece for the company), and the other by 2013 Guggenheim Fellow Brian Brooks, who has been commissioned by the Harris Theater through the Imagine campaign. Completing the program will be two eye-popping works by the Czech-born, Netherlands-based dance master Jiri Kylian — “Sarabande,” a powerhouse work for six men set to J. S. Bach’s second partita for solo violin, with electronically manipulated live vocals and body percussion; and “Falling Angels,” a feverish, ritualistic work for eight women set to a section of Steve Reich’s phased-percussion composition, “Drumming.” Visit www.hubbardstreetdance.com/fall.
VISCERAL DANCE CHICAGO (Oct. 1 at Harris Theater for Music and Dance): Although it is just entering its fourth season, Visceral has established itself as one of this city’s most highly polished and audacious contemporary dance companies, capable of grabbing the stage with its impressively dramatic dancers and top-notch roster of choreographers, including artistic director Nick Pupillo. This Fall program will feature new works by Los Angeles-based choreographer Erica Sobol, and a new duet, “Atlas,” by Pupillo. It also will include a reprise of Pupillo’s dazzling percussive work, “Vital” (with live music by Peter Ferry), as well as Irish choreographer Marguerite Donlon’s daft and brilliant “Ruff Celts.” Visit www.harristheaterchicago.org.
GIORDANO DANCE CHICAGO (Oct. 28 and 29 at Harris Theater for Music and Dance): This jazz-based contemporary dance company of ever-dynamic performers will debut “Divided Against,” a new full company work by choreographer Peter Chu (“So You Think You Can Dance”), the American dancer, choreographer, teacher and current coach for Nederlands Dans Theater 2. It is set to original music by Jean-François (Djeff) Houle, a bass player and electronic musician from Quebec. Also on the bill will be works by Autumn Eckman, Sam Watson, Jon Lehrer, Ray Mercer and Keisha Lalama. Visit www.harristheaterchicago.org.
DANISH DANCE THEATRE IN “BLACK DIAMOND” (Oct. 21 and 22 at Harris Theater for Music and Dance): Led by British choreographer Tim Rushton, Danish Dance Theatre, which will be making its Chicago debut at the Harris, is Denmark’s largest contemporary dance company. Rushton’s abstract, futuristic “Black Diamond,” featuring 16 dancers, is set to the sounds of violinist Alexander Balanescu, the beat king Trentemøller and composer Philip Glass. Visit www.harristheaterchicago.org.
AN EVENING OF DANCE WITH MACARTHUR FELLOWS (Sept. 16 at the Harris Theatre for Music and Dance): This concert (free, with a limit of two tickets per person, and reservation required), is part of the 35th anniversary celebration of the MacArthur Fellows Program (better know as the “genius grants”). It will include a unique lineup of works by choreographers who have received the award: Susan Marshall’s “Kiss” (performed by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago); Merce Cunningham’s “Springweather and People” (performed by Erin Dowd and Forrest Hersey of the Merce Cunningham Trust); Kyle Abraham’s “Dearest Home” (performed by Abraham.in.Motion); Michelle Dorrance’s “Boards and Chains” (performed by Dorrance Dance) and Mark Morris’s “Pacific” (performed by Mark Morris Dance Group). Visit www.harristheaterchicago.org.
ENSEMBLE ESPANOL’S FLAMENCO PASSION (Sept. 29 at the Auditorium Theatre): Fresh from its tour of Spain this August (the ultimate test), this superb company, now celebrating its 40th anniversary, will return to the Auditorium as part of the “Made in Chicago” Dance Series, with the presentation of founder and artistic director, Dame Libby Komaiko’s signature work, “Bolero,” set to the familiar Ravel score, enhanced by a backdrop of Picasso paintings, and performed by this remarkable Chicago company whose costuming and dramatic flair never fail to generate immense excitement. Also on the bill will be Ron DeJesus’ “Mil Clavos” (“One Thousand Nails”), a piece exploration of traditional Spanish dance in a modern context, and “Iroko,”a work evoking the roots and branches of Spanish dance and its relationship to the continents of Europe, Africa and the Americas. Visit www.auditoriumtheatre.org.
LIZT ALFONSO DANCE CUBA IN “CUBA VIBRA!” (Nov. 5 and 6 at the Auditorium Theatre): With so much attention now focused on Cuba, now is an ideal time to revel in the delights of a hot Havana night as this company brings its irresistible fusion of cha-cha, rumba, conga, bolero and mambo to the stage. An ensemble of 17 dancers will be accompanied by a seven-member, on-stage band with vocalist. Visit www.auditoriumtheatre.org.
NORA CHIPAUMIRE IN “PORTRAIT OF MYSELF AS MY FATHER” (Oct. 20-22 at the Dance Center of Columbia College): This work, created and performed by the Zimbabwe-bred, New York-based Nora Chipaumire, Senegalese dancer Kaolack and Shamar Watt, is an evening-length dance piece that considers the African male through the lens of cultural traditions, colonialism, Christianity and liberation struggles — and how these ideas might impact the African family and society on a global scale. Visit www.colum.edu/dance-center.