From ballet to modern to jazz, Chicago’s vibrant dance scene is back

Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre, Ensemble Espanol, the Joffrey Ballet and Giordano Dance Chicago are among the companies back in full swing this fall and winter.

SHARE From ballet to modern to jazz, Chicago’s vibrant dance scene is back
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in Jardi Tancat by Nacho Duato. Photo by Todd Rosenberg

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago presents “Jardi Tancat” by Nacho Duato.

© Todd Rosenberg Photography

While dance can certainly be enjoyed virtually, the physicality and sensuality of the movement cry out to be seen live. And that’s exactly what audiences can expect this fall as companies return to the stage after the extended coronavirus shutdown.

Here’s a look at dance offerings worth taking in this fall/winter:

Mandala South Asian Performing Arts

Mandala South Asian Performing Arts

Tom Rossiter

Oct. 9, “The Story of Ram,” Mandala South Asian Performing Arts, Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster St., Naperville (mandalaarts.org). This family-friendly, outdoor production celebrates the Indian holiday of Diwali and interprets the ancient epic tale of “Ramayana.” Participants include Mandala’s professional dance ensemble, Gingarte Capoeira; Indonesian Dance of Illinois; Somapa Thai Dance Company of Washington, D.C., and Thai Music @ Chicago.

Oct. 9, Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre, Fine and Performing Arts Center at Moraine Valley Community College, 9000 College Pkwy, Palos Hills, (cerquarivera.org). Performing “Shiver,” “Soul Remedy” “Identity City” and “Mood Swing.

The Seldoms

The Seldoms.

Andrew Glatt

Oct. 13-24, “Home: A Celebration,” Joffrey Ballet, Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker (joffrey.org). This season-opening line-up marks the Joffrey’s downtown return to live presentations and the company’s debut in its new performing home at the Lyric Opera House. The mixed-repertory program includes the world premieres of Nicolas Blanc’s “Under the Trees’ Voices” and Yoshihisa Arai’s “Boléro.”

Oct. 14-16, “Grass,” The Seldoms, Dance Center at Columbia College Chicago, 1306 S. Michigan (dance.colum.edu). Formed in 2001 and based in Chicago, the Seldoms create issue-based dance works often in collaboration with partners from such fields as history or science. This new work, as the center’s promotional materials put it, investigates “the war on weeds and the war on weed.” 

Ensemble Espanol: Monica Saucedo in Horizonte. Photo by Dean Paul.

Ensemble Espanol: Monica Saucedo.

Dean Paul Photo

Oct. 15-18, Ruth Page Civic Ballet Training Company, Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn, (ruthpage.org). Ruth Page Civic Ballet Training Company performs Nejla Yatkin’s re-imagining of “Expanding Universe,” a piece first created by Ruth Page and Isamu Noguchi, plus pieces by Rigo Saura and Nelson Reyes.

Oct. 16, Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater, Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Ida B. Wells Parkway (auditoriumtheatre.org). This performance, which includes a five-piece vocal-instrumental ensemble, culminates the company’s 45th season and opens the Auditorium Theatre’s 2021-22 line-up. It also inaugurates the venue’s “Made in Chicago” Dance Series and kicks off the Instituto Cervantes’ Chicago Flamenco Festival 2021. 

Giordano Dance Chicago. L-R Tanner Boyer, Ashley Downs, Fernando Rodriguez in Take a Gambol. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

Giordano Dance Chicago: Tanner Boyer (from left) Ashley Downs and Fernando Rodriguez.

Photo by Todd Rosenberg

Oct. 22 and 23, “59th Season Fall Series: Illuminate,” Giordano Dance Chicago, Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph (harristheatearchicago.org). This 13-member resident ensemble returns to its performance home with a program of classic and contemporary jazz works, including the company premiere of Adam Houston’s “All For You.” and works from the company’s repertory including “Flickers,” “A Little Moonlight,” “Shirt Off My Back,” “Take A Gambol” and “Pyrokinesis.” The two evenings mark the final performances of dancer Zachary Heller after 14 seasons with Giordano Dance.

Oct. 23, “Roots & Wings,” Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, Auditorium Theatre (auditoriumtheatre.org). In August at the Pritzker Pavilion, Deeply Rooted was supposed to present a preview of “GOSHEN,” an in-development dance-theater work created by Donald Lawrence, a Grammy Award-winning producer, songwriter and gospel artist based in Chicago. When that performance had to be canceled because of inclement weather, it was included as the finale of this reformulated program. 

Nov. 5-20. Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble, Ebenezer Lutheran Church, 1650 W. Foster, (danztheatre.org): Performing “The Yellow Wallpaper “and RE/dance Group’s “The Attic Room.” $20.

2021 Fall/Winter Entertainment Guide

2021 Fall/Winter Entertainment Guide


The arrival of cooler weather and shorter days can’t stop Chicago from having a good time. Find something fun to do in the city with our Fall/Winter Entertainment Guide.


Nov. 12 and 13, “Xenos,” Akram Khan Company, Harris Theater (harristheaterchicago.org). Khan serves as the artistic director and choreographer for this much-lauded, London-based company that bears his name. He performs this self-created solo work that combines kathak, an Indian classical form, and contemporary dance to probe the disturbed nightmares of an everyman colonial soldier caught up in the horrors of World War I.

Nov. 18-21, “RE/TURN,” Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Harris Theater (hubbardstreetdance.com). Hubbard Street’s fall offering includes a world premiere by Jermaine Maurice Spivey and “Jardí Tancat,” a work by renowned Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato. The program opens the 14-member company’s 44th season and marks its first performances under the leadership of Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell, who took over as artistic director in March.  

Dec. 2, “Fires of Varanasi: Dance of the Eternal Pilgrim,” Ragamala Dance Company, Harris Theater (harristheaterchicago.org). The Ragamala company marks its 25th anniversary with this work for 10 dancers, exploring life, death and the after-life through the power of ritual. It was choreographed by the Indian-American mother-and-daughter team of Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy, who also oversee the Minneapolis-based company.

Deeply Rooted Dance Theater.

Deeply Rooted Dance Theater.

Photo by Ken Carl

“The Nutcracker”

“The Nut Tapper”: Reggio “The Hoofer” McLaughlin and friends present a percussive take on the classic ballet featuring both students and professional dancers. Nov. 28. Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, $20; oldtownschool.org

“The Art Deco Nutcracker”: Set in 1920s America, this is a fresh take on the holiday favorite. Dec. 4. A&A Ballet at Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport; aacenterfordance.org

“The Nutcracker”: Christopher Wheeldon’s reimagining of the holiday classic sets the tale on Christmas Eve, 1892, months before the opening of the 1893 World’s Fair. Dec. 4-26. The Joffrey Ballet at Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker; joffrey.org

“The Nutcracker”: Celebrate the holiday season with Ballet Chicago’s staging of the holiday classic. Dec. 10-19. Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, $18-$53; athenaeumtheatre.org

“The Nutcracker”: Salt Creek Ballet’s full-scale production of the holiday classic. Nov. 27-28 at Hinsdale Central Auditorium, 5500 S. Grant, Hinsdale. Dec. 11-12 at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd. Dec. 18-19 at McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell, Glen Ellyn; saltcreekballet.org

Contributing: Mary Houlihan

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