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Columbia Dance Center announces 2015-2016 season

During its 42nd season as one of Chicago’s top presenters of contemporary dance, the Dance Center of Columbia College will showcase the Stephen Petronio Company paying homage to American postmodern masters, a Butoh-meets-hip-hop duet courtesy of Michael Sakamoto and Rennie Harris, the New York-based troupes of Urban Bush Women and Camille A. Brown, San Francisco Bay Area’s Joe Goode, Camille A. Brown and this city’s very own Natya Dance Theatre (which draws on classical Indian and modern dance), and the ever-popular Giordano Dance Chicago.

All performances will take place at The Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan. Subscriptions and single tickets go on sale July 7. Call (312) 369-8330 or visit http://www.colum.edu/dancecenterpresents.

Here’s a closer look at the lineup:

+ Stephen Petronio Company (Oct. 1–3, 2015):

Petronio’s most recent project is “Bloodlines,” an initiative “to honor an incomparable lineage of American postmodern masters.” During the next five years, SPC will perform iconic choreography from a family tree that straddles the 20th and 21st centuries alongside new creations by Petronio. In each case, SPC will be the first contemporary American company to perform these works outside the original choreographers’ companies. For its Chicago performances, SPC performs the post-New York City premiere of a program including “Glacial Decoy” by Trisha Brown, with visual design by Robert Rauschenberg; “Rainforest” by Merce Cunningham, with music by David Tudor and visual design by Andy Warhol; and Petronio’s “Nonlocomotor,” with music by Clams Casino and the Young People’s Chorus of New York City.

+ Natya Dance Theatre (Oct. 22–24, 2015):

Rooted in the Indian dance-theatre technique of Bharatanatyam, Natya returns to The Dance Center to celebrate 40 years of performing and creating dance art with the world premiere of “Varna – Colors of White,” an exploration of universal emotions and their diverse colors that find expression through words, music, dance and drama. Conceived by founder and artistic director Hema Rajagopalan, the narratives bring together the secular and the divine, the manifest and the unmanifest as part of the integrated whole. Eminent musicians from India accompany principal dancer Krithika Rajagopalan and the Natya dancers. Based on ancient texts and poems of Sage poets, and set to original musical scores, “Varna” considers feelings of love, desire, compassion, sorrow, greed and jealousy along with humor.

+ Camille A. Brown & Dancers (Nov. 5–7, 2015):

In “Black Girl: Linguistic Play,” Brown reveals the complexity of carving out a self-defined identity as a black female in urban American culture. In a society that often portrays black women only in terms of their strength, resiliency or trauma, this work seeks to interrogate these narratives by representing a nuanced spectrum of black womanhood in a racially and politically charged world. With original music compositions, performed live by pianist Scott Patterson and electric bassist Tracy Wormworth, Brown uses the rhythmic play of African-American dance vernacular, including social dancing, double dutch, steppin’, tap, Juba, ring shout and gesture, as the black woman’s domain to evoke childhood memories of self-discovery. From play to protest, the performers come into their identities, from childhood innocence to girlhood awareness to maturity—all the while shaped by their environments, the bonds of sisterhood and society at large.

+ Giordano Dance Chicago (Feb. 4–6, 2016):

Returning to The Dance Center for the first time in 37 years, Giordano Dance Chicago, which will celebrate its 53rd season, offers an intimate program filled with its trademark passion, artistry and athleticism. Included will be the aggressive “Exit4,” choreographed by internationally renowned Roni Koresh, and the whirlwind “Shirt Off My Back,” from Broadway performer Ray Mercer. The company also offers a FamilyDance performance on Feb. 6 featuring a free workshop for parents and children with the artist, followed by a family-oriented performance.

+ Urban Bush Women (Feb. 18–20, 2016):

Under the direction of African-American choreographer Jawole Zollar, Urban Bush Women returns on the heels of its 30th season of performances at The Dance Center in spring 2015. It will perform “Walking with ’Trane,” a suite of works based on the life and artistic imprint of jazz pioneer John Coltrane. Grammy Award-winning pianist George Caldwell provides live accompaniment with a reinterpretation of John Coltrane’s album “A Love Supreme.”

+ Joe Goode Performance Group (March 10–12, 2016):

Joe Goode’s evening-length “Hush,” pushes the boundaries of dance theater, with narrative, drama, music and dance playing equally strong roles. The dancers’ voices, a driving musical score, and the unique presence of a Foley (sound effects) artist create a provocative soundscape for the story of six interlocking characters in a rundown bar troubled by their hushed secrets.

Joe Goode Performance Group in “Hush.” (Photo: RJ Muna)
Joe Goode Performance Group in “Hush.” (Photo: RJ Muna)

+Michael Sakamoto and Rennie Harris (March 31–April 2, 2016):

In “Flash,” their dance-theater duet – written, choreographed and performed by Rennie Harris and Michael Sakamoto – the artists combine their dual approaches to manifesting a body in crisis. The work is conceived as a “conversation” between the artists’ respective aesthetics (Butoh and hip hop), cultural backgrounds (Japanese-American and African-American) and personalities. Hip hop and Butoh were born from marginalized, postwar urban subcultures, and each embodies a philosophical approach to the creation of cultural identity through dance.