The Harris Theater for Music and Dance has come up with a glittering lineup of international, national and Chicago-based dance companies for its 2015-2016 season.
John Neumeier’s Hamburg Ballet will perform both “Othello” and “Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler.” The Miami City Ballet will return to Chicago after quite an absence with a wide range of works including one by the hot young choreographer Justin Peck. And the Mark Morris Dance Group will present “Dido and Aeneas.”
The Harris Theater has commissioned the gifted American choreographer Jessica Lang (not the actress) to create a piece in collaboration with architect Steven Holl, and the Harris also is helping to support the work of Chicago-based choreographer Julia Rhoads and her Lucky Plush Productions. Finally, AXIS Dance Company will return to the stage for a celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In addition to the work on stage, audiences will be able to enjoy the extensive renovations that have occurred to the Harris Theater building itself.
Dancers from the Miami Ballet in “Allegro Brilliante.”
Here is a closer look at the season:
± AXIS Dance Company (Oct. 8 – 10, 2015): Founded in 1987, AXIS emerged at a time when the Disabilities Rights and Independent Living Movement were gaining momentum and the dance community was just beginning to open its doors to people with disabilities. In partnership with ADA 25 Chicago, the Harris will commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act with these performances.
± Jessica Lang Dance (Nov. 6, 2015): This world premiere work is being commissioned by the Chicago Architecture Biennial (a major international event to be held in Chicago in the fall), and the Harris Theater. Lang will team with 2014 International Architecture Award recipient Steven Holl, taking a sculptural approach to his work, and utilizing visually arresting sets and costumes that allow for three-dimensional interactions with bodies and objects. Set to music by Arvo Pärt, the work draws inspiration from author Jorge Luis Borges’ 1941 short story, “The Garden of Forking Paths.”
± Hamburg Ballet (with John Neumeier’s “Othello” on Feb. 23 and 24, 2016, and his “Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler” on Feb. 26 and 27, 2016): In “Othello,” Neumeier, a master of the full-length ballet, draws on Shakespeare’s seminal tragedy of love, jealousy, betrayal, and revenge. The ballet will be performed with live accompaniment by the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra, with music by Arvo Pärt, Alfred Schnittke, and Naná Vasconcelos. These performances are being presented in conjunction with Shakespeare400, celebrating the legacy of the playwright during 2016 — the 400th anniversary of his death. Neumeier’s 1975 work, “Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler,” is considered one of his most important and defining ballets, inspired by the choreographer’s great love of Mahler’s music. (These performances are rescheduled from February 2014 when an electrical fire at the Harris made Hamburg Ballet’s performances impossible.)
± “Trip The Light Fantastic: The Making of SuperStrip” by Chicago’s Lucky Plush Productions (March 3, 2016): Lucky Plush celebrates its 15th anniversary with the creation of a new dance-theater work loosely inspired by the sensational stories and larger-than-life characters in classic pulp magazines. “SuperStrip” follows a group of washed up superheroes attempting to reinvent themselves by starting a non-profit think tank for do-gooders. Comic book-style graphics, Foley effects and real-time video will help create an experience in which contemporary dance meets an animated graphic novel — part comic-strip, part silent film. The piece, created by Lucky Plush founder, director and choreographer Julia Rhoads, features music by Michael Caskey and visual design by John Boesche, and has been co-commissioned by the Harris Theater and the Pamela Crutchfield Dance Fund of the Imagine campaign.
± Mark Morris Dance Group (April 5 and 6, 2016): Based on Henry Purcell’s opera, Morris’ acclaimed work will be performed with a live orchestra and chorus, with Morris as conductor. It tells the story of Dido, Queen of Carthage, who is in love with the Trojan prince, Aeneas. A sorceress who desires the destruction of Carthage, and its queen ,crafts an evil plan, sending a messenger in the form of Mercury to tell Aeneas he must leave Carthage and sail for Italy to found a new Troy. Undone by the abandonment of her lover, Dido kills herself, and her death is lamented by mourning cupids.
± Miami City Ballet (April 29 and 30, 2016): Making its Harris Theater debut, the company, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, will perform two different programs over two evenings and shine the spotlight on works by George Balanchine and New York City Ballet’s young resident choreographer, Justin Peck (whose ballet, “In Creases,” was just performed by the Joffrey Ballet). The company, whose dancers are now under the artistic direction of Lourdes Lopez, are known for their musicality, interpretive artistry, technical clarity and great speed and attack. The Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra will provide live accompaniment. The April 29 program will include Balanchine’s “Allegro Brillante” (to the music of Verdi), Peck’s “Chutes and Ladders” (to music by Benjamin Britten), Liam Scarlett’s “Viscera” and Alexei Ratmansky’s “Symphonic Dance” (to Rachmaninoff). The April 3o program will include “Ballo della Regina” and Pecks’ recent hit, “Heatscape,” for which he collaborated with artist Shepard Fairey (best known for his 2008 “Hope” poster for Obama’s presidential campaign), who evokes the vibrant streets of Miami.
Tickets are now on sale for the dance performances of the 2015-2016 season. Patrons can save 40% off the cost of single tickets by building their own subscription package of three performances through the See The Dance Flex Pass. For more details visit http://www.HarrisTheaterChicago.org or call (312) 334-7777.