Chicago has become home to a large, exceptionally talented (if all too often unheralded) community of dancers and choreographers, as well as a destination for touring companies. And this fall’s action-packed lineup showcases the art in all its forms with something for ballet aficionados, contemporary dance enthusiasts, fans of jazz, folkloric and percussive dance, and musical theater lovers captivated by electrifying dance sequences.
Here is a look at the fall season:
JOFFREY BALLET (www.joffrey.org/1718season): The Joffrey’s exceptionally busy season will begin with a first-ever collaboration with Chicago’s Lyric Opera – a not-to-be-missed world premiere production of Gluck’s “Orphee et Eurydice” directed, choreographed and designed by Hamburg Ballet’s John Neumeier (Sept. 23 – Oct. 15 at the Lyric Opera House). Next up will be the Chicago premiere of Lola de Avila’s acclaimed adaptation of “Giselle” (Oct. 18-29 at the Auditorium Theatre), the quintessentially romantic ballet set to Adolph Adam’s score. A tale of love, class distinctions, betrayal, madness, forgiveness and more, its title role is a great test of a classical ballerina’s dramatic powers.
HUBBARD STREET DANCE CHICAGO (hubbardstreetdance.com): To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Hubbard Street will leap out of the gate with something completely different. Its Fall program, “Space, In Perspective” (Sept. 21-24 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance), will take the form of an “immersive installation,” as its 16 company members, plus 16 dancers from the Hubbard Street Professional Program, perform a work choreographed by Peter Chu (of FOX TV’s “So You Think Can Dance” fame), and set to a score by Djeff Houle (musical director for Criss Angel’s “MINDFREAK Live!”). The hour-long piece will have the dancers and audience (no more than 400 people per performance, broken into several smaller groups) moving around the theater’s lobbies, backstage areas and loading dock, culminating with everyone on stage.
ENSEMBLE ESPANOL SPANISH DANCE THEATER (AuditoriumTheatre.org): This company of extraordinarily accomplished, fiercely dramatic dancers is rooted in flamenco but thrives on classical, contemporary and folkloric forms of Spanish dance and music. Its Oct. 6 program at the Auditorium Theatre will include richly theatrical variations on all these techniques and include: “Iroko,” a virtuosic work of modern flamenco dance choreographed by Angel Rojas and Carlos Rodriguez; “Defalla, Out of the Box,” Angel Rojas’ visually stunning contemporary riff on the classic ballet, “The Three-Cornered Hat,” set to the music of Manuel de Falla; “Ecos de España,” a 1983 work by company founder Dame Libby Komaiko, set to Spanish folk music and inspired by the paintings of Francisco de Goya; and “Bolero,” Komaiko’s masterpiece set to the Ravel score, and infused with projections of Picasso’s artwork.
+ VISCERAL DANCE CHICAGO: In its two local engagements (Sept. 16 at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie and Oct. 7 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance), this sophisticated contemporary company, now in its fifth season, will present “Here,” a world premiere by Princess Grace Choreography Fellowship recipient Danielle Agami. Set to an original composition by Glen Kotche, the drummer from the rock band Wilco, it delves into “the simple workings, habits and attitudes of everyday life in an exploration of the ordinary.” Also on the bill will be the zany “Ruff Celts” by Ireland’s Marguerite Donlon; “Minor Threat,” Mark Godden’s piece set to Mozart’s “Piano Concerto in D minor”; and artistic director Nick Pupillo’s recent “Synapse,” a visually enthralling LED-light immersive experience set to the driving house beat of Darryl Hoffman.(www.harristheatrechicago.org)
SHEN WEI DANCE ARTS (AuditoriumTheatre.org): This company, founded by Shen Wei – the internationally acclaimed Chinese-born (now New York-based) choreographer, director, dancer, visual artist and MacArthur “Genius” Award winner who staged the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics – will make its Chicago debut Sept. 23-24 at the Auditorium Theatre. On the bill will be two Wei masterworks – “Folding,” which conjures a dreamlike world and is set to traditional Tibetan Buddhist chants and the music of English composer John Tavener, and “The Rite of Spring,” a highly-charged abstract take on Stravinsky’s groundbreaking score.
GIORDANO DANCE CHICAGO (harristheatrechicago.org): This highly athletic, oxygen-devouring company, founded by the late jazz dance master Gus Giordano and now celebrating its 55th anniversary, will performing Oct. 27 – 28 at the Harris Theatre for Music and Dance. On the bill will be two world premieres – “Tossed Around,” choreographed by Broadway dancer-choreographer Ray Mercer (set to an original score by Sbongiseni “Bongi” Duma), and “If I Could…,” by the gifted Chicago choreographer, Brock Clawson. In addition, Nan Giordano will restage her dad’s “Giordano Moves,” and the program will feature Liz Imperio’s “La Belleza de Cuba,” Frank Chavez’s “Grusin Suite” and Autumn Eckman’s “G-Force.”
A GOLDEN CELEBRATION OF DANCE: (AuditoriumTheatre.org)For one extraordinary night (Nov. 12), the Auditorium Theatre will welcome dancers from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre, the Dutch National Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, the Joffrey Ballet, the Mariinsky Ballet, MOMIX, the New York City Ballet, Parsons Dance, the Suzanne Farrell Ballet, and the Washington Ballet. All will perform as part of a gala event commemorating the golden anniversary of this landmark Adler and Sullivan theater’s grand re-opening in 1967, following a 26-year closure.
DANCE CENTER OF COLUMBIA COLLEGE (www.colum.edu/dance-center): The season kicks off with the Chicago Human Rhythm Project (Sept. 21-23), and the Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group (Oct. 12-14) whose “Citizen” incorporates elements of blues, folk, African Diaspora cultures and video. Then comes the Chicago debut of New York-based COCo. Dance Theatre (Nov. 2-4) in “Virago-Man Dem,” an experimental dance-theater work by Cynthia Oliver that explores “masculinities and their multiplicities within cultures of Caribbean and African-American communities.”