March Madness isn’t just for basketball, March Hares, or Easter Bunnies! Catch the dance delirium on dozens of Chicago dance stages that are literally jumping with fresh new work from near and far this month.
Hop into March on a comic book note with Lucky Plush’s world premiere of “Trip The Light Fantastic” (March 3, Harris Theater). Chicago’s Lucky Plush Productions, fresh on the heels of its newly-awarded MacArthur Grant, celebrates its 15th anniversary with the creation of a new dance-theater work, “Trip the Light Fantastic: The Making of SuperStrip.” Commissioned by the Harris Theater, SuperStrip follows a group of washed up superheroes attempting to reinvent themselves in a nonprofit think tank for do-gooders. Comic book-style graphics, Foley effects and real-time video will create an experience like none other—contemporary dance theater meets animated graphic novel, part comic strip, part silent film.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre roars into town for its annual Chicago season at the Auditorium Theatre (March 8-13). Three separate programs feature choreography by artistic director Robert Battle, Paul Tayor, Ronald K. Brown, Rennie Harris, and classic Ailey choreography. In addition to “Revelations,” performed in each of the three programs, Program A will include “Open Door,” “Love Songs,” and “Awakening;” Program B, “Exodus,” and “No Longer Silent;” and Program C “Blues Suite,” “Cry,” and Piazzolla Caldera.”
The Dance Center of Columbia College features two out-of-state touring groups: Joe Goode Performance Group (March 10-12), and Rennie Harris and Michael Sukamoto (March 31-April 2). San Francisco-based choreographer Joe Goode pushes the boundaries of dance theater, with narrative text, music and dance playing equally strong roles. The full evening work takes on atmospheric depth with a soundscape by Sudhu Tewari and Ben Juodvalkis. Tewari specializes in creating electro-acoustic sound art from the remains of discarded stereo equipment, kinetic sculptures and other devices. For Hush he uses techniques from the world of movie sound effects – known as Foley art – to create a many-textured ambient environment for the performers.
“Flash,” a duet choreographed, written and performed by Rennie Harris and Michael Sakamoto, combines their dual approaches to manifesting a body in crisis. The work is conceived as a “conversation” between the artists’ respective aesthetics (hip hop and butoh), cultural backgrounds (African American and Japanese American) and personalities. Hip hop and butoh were both born from marginalized, postwar urban subcultures, and each embodies a philosophical approach to the creation of cultural identity through dance. Flash is an interdisciplinary performance project combining butoh and hip-hop dance, multimedia and other theatrical elements to address the intersection of urban and environmental crisis, social resistance and identity.
Three compelling works of dance-theater, with costumes by Jeff Award–winning designer Branimira Ivanova, bring a sizzle to Season 38 at Hubbard Street (March 17-20, Harris Theater). In Resident Choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo’s “The Impossible,” an aging couple looks back on their youth; its poignant, surprising scenes raise intriguing questions about memory, mortality, partnership, and the resilience of the human spirit. In contrast, Gustavo Ramírez Sansano’s “I am Mister B” is a witty, exuberant, and fast-paced homage to the great ballet choreographer George Balanchine. This quicksilver piece — made exclusively for Hubbard Street — is set to the celebratory final movement of Tchaikovsky’s third suite for orchestra in G major, with gossamer, deep-blue set designs by Spanish artist Luis Crespo. Completing the program is a commanding world premiere from Lucas Crandall for the full ensemble, performed in boots, and inspired by the energy and velocity of stampedes.
Links Hall’s “SET FREE: Progress In Performance” 3rd Mondays series (Links Hall, March 21) supports the progression of creative work through performance. A SET FREE residency at Links Hall includes five Monday evening showings shared among four artists, each receiving 25 minutes per evening to repeat and revisit the development of their work, which includes both SET material, and improvised FREE work. The series ends with one final weekend performance split among all four artists involved. The four artists participating in this new series are Peter Carpenter, Lisa Gonzales, Jessica Marasa and Ysaye McKeever. Tea and light snacks will be served at each performance.
MORE EXCITING DANCE EVENTS:
Northwestern University’s “Danceworks 2016” (March 3-6, Nu’s Josephine Louis Theatre), presents this year’s annual dance showcase featuring choreography by Tony and Olivier Award-winner Garth Fagan, 2015 Guggenheim Fellow Rosy Simas, Hedwig Dances Artistic Associate Maray Gutiérrez, NU Dance faculty member Jeff Hancock, and Dance Program Director Joel Valentín-Martínez.
The Ruth Page Dance Series presents Concert Dance Inc. in “A World Of Dance” March 4-5, Ruth Page Center for the Arts). These two performances celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Ruth Page Dance Series, and will honor Artistic Director Venetia Stifler's retirement from the NEIU Department of Music & Dance Program. Both evenings will feature live musical accompaniment and will highlight five of Ms. Stifler's favorite works, ranging from her earliest choreography "The Chicago Project" to last summer's stunning Ravinia Festival commission "Fly Me To The Moon" as part of the Frank Sinatra Centennial Celebration. Also on the program will be guest artist of the Ruth Page Civic Ballet with a preview of their world premiere dance created as part of the 2015 cultural exchange with Cuba's Escuela Nacional de Ballet and partially funded by The MacArthur Foundation's International Connections Fund.
Chicago Repertory Ballet stages “Macbeth” at the Ruth Page Center (March 4-5). This design/dance collaboration between Chicago Repertory Ballet and John Pobojewski/Thirst design tells the tragic tale of Lord and Lady MacBeth and their blood-soaked ascent to the throne.
Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble continues its 15th season dedicated to woman's voice. CDE teams with Sildance/ AcroDanza to present "Bindis and Bruises & Encuentros" (March 4-12, Ebenezer Lutheran Church), directed and choreographed by Silvita Diaz-Brown."Encuentros" integrates dance, partner acrobatics, sound and text to represent the political journey of a couple. This triptych explores the stages of relationships through infatuations, imperfection and self-actualization.
Cerqua Rivera launches “Inside/Out 2016 Kickoff” with two programs at Old Town School of Folk Music. On March 5th, you can meet Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre’s professional Dance and Music Ensembles and get an intimate preview of the year ahead in this event kicking off the second year of CRDT Inside/Out. You’ll not only experience this company’s collaborative musicians and dancers performing in combination with visual art, but you’ll also be a part of it – CRDT Inside/Out events always include audience participation and conversation. All ages welcome to this interactive showcase of the company’s unique work which combines live music, contemporary dance, and visual art. On March 24th, CRDT will present Inside/Out With Sherry Zunker and Joe Cerqua. This is a chance to see art being born and get to know the people and ideas shaping it. Join renowned choreographer Sherry Zunker as she shares her brand-new work in progress “An Intimate Affair,” her inspiration, and her process.
The Joffrey Academy of Dance and the Museum of Contemporary Art present four world premieres in the sixth annual “Winning Works” program (MCA, March 5-6). This years competition winners--ABT soloist Jeffrey Cirio; former River North dancer Christian Denice; Mariana Oliveira, artistic director of the Union Project Dance Company--each choreographed a work, along with a fourth by Joffrey Academy Artistic Director Alexei Kremnev, titled “Coco + Igor.” All four works are performed by dancers from the Joffrey Studio Company and Joffrey Academy Trainee Program.
Thodos Dance Chicago reprises “Chicago Revealed” at the Harris Theater (March 5). The concert begins with Sono's Journey, a new full company dance story, created and choreographed by TDC Founder and Artistic Director, Melissa Thodos, that reflects the life and journey of acclaimed dancer, Sono Osato. Act II features three world premieres: RedLines/BlueHorizon by guest choreographer Kevin Iega Jeff, Artistic Director of Chicago's Deeply Rooted Dance Theater; Robyn Mineko Williams, former dancer at River North Dance Chicago and member of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago for twelve seasons, will premiere a new work titled At the Apex. A third premiere is by TDC Company Founder and Artistic Director, Melissa Thodos, titled Thio Kosmos, or "Two Worlds" in Greek. This work will shed light on the Greek-American perspective of life in our city.
MOMENTA presents Dance Kaleidoscope (March 5-6 and 12-13, Doris Humphrey Memorial Theatre, Oak Park) – an evening of dance works that reflect MOMENTA’s colorful repertory. Featuring the classical ballet works - Act II of Swan Lake and Fairy Doll; the return of Randy Duncan’s epic Journey; a reprise of audience favorites by Cora D. Mitchell and Gina Sigismondi; and two new physically integrated works by Ginger Lane and Sarah Najera.
The Dance COLEctive celebrates 20 years of cutting-edge choreography, innovative collaborations and mentorship of new choreographers with “Revelry/20 Years,” (Links Hall, March 11, 12, 13 & 18, 19, 20). The program comprises premieres, works by current and former company members and reconstructed repertory by alumni and special guests. Choreography by Margi Cole, Madelyn Doyle, Shannon Edwards, Margaret Jenkins, Katie Petrunich.
Shen Yun classical Chinese dance company takes you on a journey spanning from the origins of Chinese civilization through the height of the Tang and Song dynasties all the way to the modern day (Rosemont Theater, March 13-14; Civic Opera House, March 15). Heavenly maidens, brave warriors, mischievous monks, and, yes, even a flying pig! China's 5,000 years of uninterrupted history has yielded an endless treasure trove of legends, myths, and literary classics. Based in New York, Shen Yun has become the world's premier classical Chinese dance company and a global, cultural sensation, reviving the authentic culture of China that was once almost lost.
Danceworks Chicago presents “Dance Flight” (Ruth Page Center for the Arts, March 18-19). $20-25Dance Flight is like a wine flight, a sampling of sorts. Join us as we offer an assortment of dances to fill your one-hour dance card! Stay afterwards for an informal, post-performance meet the artist session hosted by the dancers.
Thodos Dance Chicago brings its full length “A Light In The Dark,” the story of Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan, to the McAninch Arts Center of DuPage College (March 19).
“In The Mood” (McAninch Arts Center College of DuPage, March 20). Much more than a concert, this fully staged musical revue celebrates America’s greatest generation through the music of Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, The Andrews Sisters, Frank Sinatra and other 1940s Swing-Era icons.
RE|dance group will premiere Lucy Riner's new evening length work, What Brings Me To This Place (Hamlin Park Field House March 24-25 and March 31-April 1), a coming of age research project.
RE|dance group will also host two contemporary dance companies from other cities as part of an effort to support touring opportunities for emerging dance artists. March 24-25 will feature Take Root from Detroit, MI. Take Root creates dances and multi-media art projects that connect with communities and broadens the artistic and intellectual scope of all people through dance and movement.
March 31-April 1 will feature JESSICA KONDRATH | THE MOVEMENT from Los Angeles, CA. The mission of JESSICA KONDRATH | THE MOVEMENT is to explore the intimate connection between movement and the musical score.
The Adventures of Tapman ( Stage 773, March 26) features light-hearted, 60s-era comic book humor, elaborate projected special effects, and phenomenal tap dancing including the unique tap dance fighting style, Tap-Fu!
Perceptual Motion, Inc. (Harold Washington Library, March 31) features a sneak peek at dances to be performed at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts in June. Included are Lin Shook's newest work, Where the Sky Meets the Sea, a trio for 3 women inspired by Lake Michigan in the early morning, the old favorite Poles Apart, Harvard Vallance's Dance 101 and the premiere of the dance created from PMI's Your Ideas in Motion Contest* held in January.
For details and tickets, go to seechicagodance.com and click on "Upcoming Events."