The Santaland Diaries at Theater Wit
By Zach Freeman
As any denizen of the theater who’s been in this town for any amount of time knows, Chicago DOES theater. With more than 250 active theater companies and a constantly growing number of venues, if you can’t find a good show to attend on any given night, you’re just doing it wrong. And this holiday season Chicago is really throwing down the gauntlet of performance options with more than forty (yes, you read that right) holiday shows. And yes, almost all of them are Christmas-related. In fact, there are almost a dozen versions of “A Christmas Carol” alone.
But Chicago is a diverse city and our theater companies reflect that. We’re not talking about several dozen versions of the same old stuff, we’re talking about more than forty completely different takes on the holiday season. It’s a lot for any one person to take in, so we thought we’d help you determine which show (or shows) you should be seeing over the next month or so to get yourself into the appropriate holiday mood (whatever that means for you).
We can’t list them all, but here are twenty to get you started. Here we go… Read the rest of this entry »
Photo courtesy Jennifer Gerard
The River North Dance Company fall program is bookended by world premieres, opening with Ashley Roland’s slithering, sexy “Get Out the Ghost.” The piece for six dancers starts with a writhing, twitching dance of the possessed. Southern Gothic imagery comes to mind from the scuttling, slinky movement vocabulary and a delicious score featuring excerpts by Edgar Meyer, Thomas Newman and Bela Fleck. Halfway through the piece an exorcism occurs and the three couples are released from their torment into spinning, ethereal lifts. The show closes with a new commissioned piece by Deeply Rooted Dance Theater’s Artistic Director Kevin Iega Jeff. Iega Jeff has created several works for RNDC and the two are a good fit; Iega Jeff’s emotionally driven choreography sits well on this group of dancers who move with a sweet, unguarded clarity. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo courtesy William Frederking
The Chicago Dancemakers Forum celebrates ten years of sponsoring local dance artists by filling the MCA with performances by past grant recipients. Dozens of choreographers have developed their voice as CDF Lab Artists and many of them will perform from 1pm-5pm on Saturday November 16—all seen for the price of museum admission. The alumni reunion will fill galleries and the MCA stage; in the theater: Carrie Hanson, Ayako Kato, Shirley Mordine, Rachel Bunting, Hema Rajagopalan, Peter Carpenter, Molly Shanahan and Rachel Damon to just name a few. In the galleries: Atalee Judy, Nicole LeGette and Ginger Krebs, Erica Mott, Asimina Chremos, dance films by Nadia Oussenko and many more. Read the rest of this entry »
Season after season, the Chicago Human Rhythm Project seeks out rhythmic dance and percussion groups around the world and invites them to perform in Chicago. Missing a CHRP Global Rhythms show means missing the opportunity to see—and hear—a dance style rarely performed on this continent. The guests this year: Che Malambo from Argentina. Malambo is traditional dance style that emerged from Gaucho’s culture—a high-speed, aggressive flurry of stomping feet below a torso held high. Flicks of the leg refer to the language of tango, rapid-fire heels and the machismo posture of el toro to flamenco. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo courtesy Ravi Ganapathy
The mother-daughter team of Hema and Krithika Rajagopalan collaborate once more with Lookingglass co-founder David Kersnar to create a fusion of classical Indian Bharata Natyam and narrative theater. “The Seventh Love” takes name from the Buddhist conception of the five aspects of love (attention, affection, acceptance, allowance and appreciation) plus two more: perfect love and the seventh, ultimate, selfless love. Staged as a discussion (and duet) between a sage and king, “The Seventh Love” examines relationships through stories about the life of Krishna. Kersnar and Krithika Rajagopalan pull contemporary experiences into the narrative by weaving in stories from Chicago women about their real relationships, ranging from loving marriages gone sour to romantic disappointments quietly suffered to tales of abuse. Read the rest of this entry »
A recent visit to South Africa inspired Deeply Rooted to add a suite of short repertory pieces to their fall program. The company was the first from the U.S. to attend the international JOMBA! Festival in Durban, South Africa and “The Dance We Dance” suite” was so well received that artistic director Kevin Iega Jeff decided to bring it back home. The title of the program refers to the generations of choreographers represented in the program, from established artists to emerging talent like Nicole Clarke-Springer, who presents “Hadiya,” a new work about the killing of a teenage girl, shot in the back while talking with friends in Chicago’s Harsh Park. Read the rest of this entry »
By Sharon Hoyer
Chance is the incubator for discovery in Bill T. Jones’ 2011 “Story/Time.” Inspired by John Cage’s “Indeterminacy,” in which Cage read one-minute stories to his audience, chosen at random, Jones applied a similar set of restrictions to his own stories, as well as music composed live by Ted Coffey, and dance excerpts from Jones’ thirty years of repertory. The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company brings “Story/Time” to the Dance Center of Columbia College in October and Jones spoke with me via phone about the piece.
What drew you to Cage’s “Indeterminacy” as a basis for the piece?
I was inspired by John Cage, but he and I are so different I thought it would be an ironic interrogation about his notions of making. Cage’s stories are about music, Eastern philosophy, the life inside his head. I thought what is the life inside Bill T. Jones’ head? John Cage doesn’t write about sex; I do. My experiences of the art world come from my experience as an outsider. So the stories have a very different temperature. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: Todd Rosenberg
Between Aspen Sante Fe Ballet and Hubbard Street’s fall program, audiences have the opportunity to see not one but two Chicago premieres from Alejandro Cerrudo, Hubbard Street’s extraordinary resident choreographer, this month at the Harris. After immersing himself in his evening-length “One Thousand Pieces” last fall, Cerrudo returns to short pieces, setting a new work on his home company. And there’s more in-house choreographic talent represented this season; Robyn Mineko Williams, recipient of a Princess Grace Choreography Fellowship award this year, presents a new work entitled “Fluence.” Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: Sharen Bradford
You have but one night to see the virtuosic Aspen Santa Fe Ballet in their first Chicago appearance since they breezed through for an evening in 2011. Aspen Santa Fe specializes in contemporary work commissioned from some of the most talented choreographers from around the globe. Saturday’s show includes a piece commissioned from Hubbard Street’s own fast-rising star Alejandro Cerrudo (not yet performed here) and two choreographers whose imaginative work will be fairly new to Chicago audiences: Cayetano Soto, from Spain, and Jorma Elo of Finland. Read the rest of this entry »
Before moving to Salt Lake City to take the helm of Ballet West, Adam Sklute spent twenty-three years with the Joffrey Ballet, as dancer, Ballet Master, and Associate Artistic Director. Sklute returns to Chicago this weekend, bringing Ballet West for three nights at the Auditorium Theatre. The company performs Sklute’s take on “The Sleeping Beauty” Friday and Saturday, and a program of contemporary mixed rep Sunday.
What attracted you to the story of Sleeping Beauty?
I’ve been long fascinated with the classics. When I came to Ballet West, one of the things I loved best was our history with the classics. I’m in fact doing “Sleeping Beauty”this year as a tribute to our fiftieth anniversary, as we’ve had “The Sleeping Beauty” in a number of incarnations over our company’s history. I personally liked this work because, to me, it’s about the music and I think of this as Tchaikovsky’s greatest score for ballet. I was excited to produce my own take on it—which is truly a classical version; it’s very much based on the Marius Petipa original. I put my own spin on it, edit it down, make it more palatable for twentieth-century audiences. Read the rest of this entry »