Theater, Dance, Comedy and Performance in Chicago

Preview: Dances for the Underground/The Seldoms, Peter Carpenter, Kate Corby & Dancers

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RECOMMENDED

The Seldoms share the bill for two weekends at Links Hall, presenting the first chapter of a new work by the company’s intellectually driven artistic director Carrie Hanson. “RockCitizen” is inspired by the rock-music-driven counterculture movements of the mid-to-late-twentieth century. Hanson seeks to unpack counterculture from social, political and economic perspectives, asking questions about how the phenomenon emerges, the groups it unites, the way it simultaneously questions dominant culture and encourages consumerism, and how it diffuses or fails. Hanson is a great pairing with Peter Carpenter, who last weekend presented the twelfth  iteration of his multi-year, ongoing “Rituals of Abundance for Lean Times,” entitled “Dominant Collapse.” Carpenter is an independent dance-theater maker inspired by many of the same forces that move The Seldoms. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Nutcracker/Joffrey Ballet

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image002RECOMMENDED

The Joffrey presents five programs throughout their season, showing works by about a dozen leading choreographers of past and present, but there’s one show that keeps the lights on: twenty-four performances of “The Nutcracker” account for the bulk of Joffrey ticket sales, pulling non-regular dance attendees (and their visitors) into the Auditorium Theatre for a holiday tradition and, in many ways, helping to fund the rest of programming. Robert Joffrey’s vision of the Christmastime confection is a shimmering spectacle, heightened by the additions of the two-story Mother Ginger puppet by Kermit Love and an ensemble of more than one-hundred young dancers. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Princess Grace Awards: New Works/Hubbard Street Dance

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Photo: Todd Rosenberg

Photo: Todd Rosenberg

RECOMMENDED

Princess Grace Awards are distributed each year to emerging artists of formidable talent in the fields of dance, film and theater (one measure of Chicago’s strong and growing dance scene is the considerable number of Princess Grace winners living and dancing in our city). Winners of Princess Grace choreography awards is the unifying theme of Hubbard Street’s two-weekend run at the MCA, but the choreographers in question have plenty more noteworthy lines on their CVs, too. The most recognizable name—certainly on a national level—is Kyle Abraham who, on top of the Princess Grace, has won a Bessie and a MacArthur fellowship, choreographing for the likes of Alvin Ailey and New York City Ballet’s Wendy Whelan (the performance, which includes a duet by HS’s resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo, is this January at the Harris). The Chicago Dancing Festival commissioned a new work from Abraham for Hubbard Street last fall, which is now reprised on the smaller MCA stage. Abraham’s gorgeous, detailed “Counterpoint” will be a treat to see in a more intimate setting. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Made in Chicago/Thodos Dance Chicago

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Photo courtesy Cheryl Mann

Photo courtesy Cheryl Mann

RECOMMENDED

Adler and Sullivan’s dazzling landmark Auditorium Theatre turns 125 this year, and part of the celebratory programming is a welcome “Made in Chicago” music and dance series. Melissa Thodos’ company will perform on the Auditorium Theatre’s boards for the first time—an apropos choice seeing as Thodos is Chicago-made herself: Evanston-born, training, performing and founding her own company in the city by the lake. Thodos Dance reprises their acclaimed hour-long theatrical piece of Chicago history, “The White City: Chicago’s Columbian Exposition of 1893,” based on Erik Larson’s famous book.  Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: 25th Anniversary Season/Jump Rhythm Jazz Project

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260 Billy FullRECOMMENDED

Movement is personal. Our bodies and the way we inhabit them is integral to our identity, our sense of self. And for Billy Siegenfeld, founder of the Jump Rhythm Jazz Project, personal movement is tied up in most meaningful aspects of how we live in the world. Talk with Siegenfeld for a half hour and you’ll probably start to see the relationships between skeletal alignment and psycho-spiritual wellbeing, between muscular tension and emotional repression, between rigidity and imperialism, between the physical body and the natural world. Siegenfeld created Jump Rhythm—a blend of tap, jazz and eruptive vocalizations, using the entire body as a rhythmic instrument—as a vehicle to explore his philosophy of movement twenty-five years ago and, for the anniversary performance, has created a semi-autobiographical piece about the birth of the technique. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: River North Dance Chicago/Harris Theater

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Photo: Cheryl Mann

Photo: Cheryl Mann

RECOMMENDED

“I was surprised,” choreographer Ivan Perez said when I asked how it was to work with the dancers of River North Dance Chicago. “They’re very jazz-based and I was surprised how invested they were in learning this work and how they took to it. It’s great to work with companies well established in this vocabulary, but it can be more interesting to work with dancers looking to challenge themselves and do something new.”

Perez is an independent choreographer, born in Spain and residing in the Netherlands, where he has lived since his stint as a company member of Nederlands Dans Theater. He is in Chicago by invitation of Frank Chaves, artistic director of River North, which celebrates twenty-five years this fall. The invitation was essentially a cold call; Chaves found a clip from Perez’s “Flesh” on YouTube, and the thee minutes worth of duet he saw was enough to inspire Chaves to call up the young choreographer in The Hague and talk about a visit to set the piece on River North. “It was my first experience shopping online for a choreographer,” Chaves said, “and I scored.” Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Trade Winds & Aires de Cambio/Hedwig Dances and DanzAbierta

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Photo: Susana Pous

Photo: Susana Pous

RECOMMENDED

A long-growing partnership between Jan Bartoszek, founder and director of Hedwig Dances, and Susana Pous, resident choreographer of the Havana-based DanzAbierta, comes to fruition next weekend in two intersecting pieces created in tandem. The difficulties of traveling between Cuba and the U.S. forced Bartoszek and Pous to work primarily separately, but “Trade Winds” and “Aires de Cambio” interlock on stage and are, in subject, context and structure, about exchange. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Rosas danst Rosas/MCA Stage

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Photo courtesy Herman Soregeloos

Photo: Herman Soregeloos

RECOMMENDED

“Rosas danst Rosas” is a dance out of time. Even though Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker created it thirty years ago at the tender age of twenty-four, the quietly captivating piece for four women feels as though it could have been made yesterday. The piece instantly launched the success of De Keersmaeker’s new company “Rosas” and inspired two generations of contemporary choreographers to follow. The timeless appeal of “Rosas danst Rosas” is in its simplicity and honesty: movement phrases are constructed from natural, everyday gestures and body positions, each holding a subtle and familiar mood. The piece moves from floor to feet, starting with phrases that alternate between feverish restlessness and detailed stillness, the occasional slap of a hand on the floor, sharp inhalations and slow exhalations, the rustling of fabric against skin and floor the only score. The second movement—the most famous section of the piece—takes place seated in chairs to the ticking clock score created for the piece by Thierry De Mey and Peter Vermeersch. Six simple phrases, punctuated by relaxed postures, are repeated and rearranged in a complex visual counterpoint. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: All-American Celebration/American Ballet Theatre

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RECOMMENDED

Our country’s highest-profile ballet company returns to the Auditorium Theatre with a performance of works by American choreographers from the American century. Two pieces by Twyla Tharp are on the program: her elegantly classical group work set to Bach’s Partita No. 2 for solo violin, and a black-tie-and-tails duet to six Sinatra standards. We’ll also see Jerome Robbins’ iconic “Fancy Free”—Robbins’ first work—the story ballet about the adventures of three strutting, tumbling, white-suited, WWII-era sailors on shore leave, set to the music of Leonard Bernstein. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Stories in Motion/Joffrey Ballet

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image001 (1)RECOMMENDED

To whet audience appetites for the fall season, the Joffrey presents a special one-weekend amuse of short narrative ballets. Two pieces are from the Joffrey rep: Antony Tudor’s 1936 “Lilac Garden,” a moonlit tale of quiet longing set in the Edwardian era, and George Balanchine’s take on the parable of the Prodigal Son, set to the music of Prokofiev. The company will also premiere “RAkU,” by San Francisco Ballet’s resident choreographer Yuri Possokhov, and inspired by the true story of a Buddhist monk who burned down the Kyoto Temple of the Golden Pavilion. Read the rest of this entry »