Bras, broomsticks, and triple time steps sweep across the Chicago dance landscape in the merry month of May! Chicago Dance Month continues into the coming month with a bursting bouquet of exciting dance events you won’t want to miss.
A landscape of bras sets the stage for “RockCitizen,” Carrie Hanson’s latest social inquiry dance theater work for The Seldoms (Storefront Theater, May 5-15). As a companion piece to Hanson’s “Power Goes,” “RockCitizen” looks at the social movements of the 1960’s that rode waves of protest experimentation, hedonism, and dissonance in efforts to remake what it means to be an individual and a community, a citizen, and part of--or sometimes outside of or even against--a civic body. This collaborative theatrical adventure reunites the same acclaimed artistic team, who deliver an expansive, layered and daring exploration of what it means to rock the system: playwright Stuart Flack, visual artist Bob Faust, sound artist Mikhail Fiksel, lighting designer Julie Ballard, video artist Liviu Pasare, historian Michael J. Kramer, Assistant Director Christina Gonzalez-Gillet, guest performer, actor Brian Shaw, and the ensemble - Philip Elson, Sarah Gonsiorowski, Damon Green, Matthew McMunn, Cara Sabin, and TJ Stallworth.
The earliest recorded version of “Cinderella” dates back to the 7th Century BC story of “Rhodopis,” a Greek slave girl who marries the king, but you only have to go as far back in history as Charles Perault’s 1697 fairy tale to find the source for Frederick Ashton’s ballet realization, created in 1948 for the Sadler’s Wells Ballet. The Cinderella story of the persecuted heroine, whose reversal of fortune exemplifies goodness triumphing over greed and selfishness, exists in virtually every culture across the globe. The Joffrey Ballet celebrates the culmination of its 60th Anniversary Season with the return of Ashton’s dazzling three-act ballet, which the Company last performed here in 2010. Set to Sergei Prokofiev’s classic score performed live by the Chicago Philharmonic, this enchanting fantasy is full of splendor, humor and magic, and is widely considered one of Ashton’s greatest full-length ballets. Cinderella will take place at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University in ten performances only, May 11-22, 2016. Wendy Ellis Somes, former dancer at The Royal Ballet, first staged this rags-to-riches story for the American debut at The Joffrey Ballet in 2006, fulfilling Robert Joffrey’s dream of having the Ashton ballet in the Company’s repertoire. Somes returns with her colleague Malin Thoors for this staging. Breathtaking sets and costumes designed by David Walker add beauty to this family favorite production, featuring a full company of 45 dancers with 39 different characters.
Do-si-do your partner and arabesque left with Ballet Chicago, under the direction of former New York City Ballet dancer Daniel Duell. “Take Flight,” the company’s spring season, features two iconic Balanchine works in two performances at Harris Theater, 2 PM and 7:30 PM, May 14th. Duell will stage George Balanchine’s “Square Dance,” which blends American folk dance with the choreographer’s innovative neoclassic minimalism, set to the music of Vivaldi and Corelli. Balanchine was in love with everything American, and his “Stars and Stripes,” set to the music of John Philip Sousa, is yet another example. Ballet Chicago will perform the challenging Pas De Deux from “Stars and Stripes,” which Duell performed under Mr. B’s direction. Also on the program are Ted Seymour’s “Celestial Rites” and a world premiere to the music of Maurice Ravel.
Audible Odyssey blazes a tap dancing trail with “Take Five,” (Stage 773, May 27-28). For five years, Audible Odyssey has commissioned and presented original, diverse choreographic works from Chicago’s best and brightest tap dancers. TAKE FIVE celebrates this milestone, presenting the restaging of three crowd-favorite works from past seasons including Zada Cheeks’ critically-acclaimed Diabolus, alongside three world premieres from this year’s Artists in Resonance incubator artists, Starinah Dixon, Rich Ashworth and Matt Pospeshil.
Robyn Mineko Williams premieres her new, evening-length “UNDER(cover)” at Links Hall, May 27-29. Blending dance, original, live music by composer/musicians Robert F. Haynes and Tony Lazzara, and special lightscapes by Brooklyn-based designer Burke Brown, the work explores varying scales of extroversion versus introversion. The work is built to offer audiences an unconventional, more visceral theater experience with JT Williams’ rich visual environments, offering choices of perspective and different options for viewing the performance action. Hubbard Street 2 dancers Zachary Enquist, Elliot Hammans, and Adrienne Lipson perform the cross-disciplinary piece, developed in part during a residency at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, New York City, and awarded through the Princess Grace Foundation-USA Works In Progress program.
MORE EXCITING DANCE THIS MONTH:
Kyle Abraham’s “When The Wolves Came In” winds up its run at the Museum of Contemporary Art at 3 PM, May 1st. Meeting tough questions about race and social progress, Abraham pairs his fluid choreography with an evocative design by visual artist Glenn Ligon. Abraham’s score for this suite of three dances moves from the singular
contemporary classical composer Nico Muhly, to a group of spirituals, to a new work commissioned from Grammy Award–winning jazz pianist Robert Glasper.
Innervation Dance Cooperative presents “The Palindrome Project.” (Links Hall, May 1st). A palindrome is a word or phrase that reads the same backward as forward. IDC pushes the choreographic envelope by exploring the ins and outs of several classic tunes. Using songs like Smooth Criminal, Crazy in Love, Dancing On My Own, You Don't Own Me, and Personal Jesus, the choreographers were challenged to pair up and mirror a song selection for the first and second acts. This season's guest choreographer, Jessica Lynn joins the ranks using Mad World.
“Abstraction” (Fulton Street Collective, April 29-May 1) is jorsTAPchicago’s reboot of its previous show, Rackets, in which dancers literally turn the way viewers perceive tap dance upside-down. In maintaining its collaborative roots, the company will once again team up with a series of artists to challenge audiences' understanding of tap dance and art as a whole.
The choreography presented in “Mess Hall: Installment Two” (Links Hall, May 1st) offers a buffet of hybrid styles and blended aesthetics. Each of the nine choreographers in Installment Two brings her own approach to movement art making. Choreographer Dina Liberatore has teamed up with a sound designer to mix sound and improvisation, while Hayley Larson draws on her training in circus arts to inform her movement, and Emily Loar integrates her own writing and spoken word into her work. From traditional modern to circus, partnering, and improvisation, Mess Hall ultimately begs the question, what is dance today?
The Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s “Stomping Grounds” continues its free series with three multi-company performances this month: May 2nd is hosted by Ensemble Espagnol at Northeastern University; May 15th, hosted by the Mexican Folkloric Dance Company at the National Museum of Mexican Art; and May 21st, hosted by Muntu Dance Theatre at DuSable Museum of African American History.
Meet the Chromanauts: explorers of explorers of time and quantum-chroma space. They have set off on their most daring mission yet: exploration of the third dimension. Dance and visual art meet in this explosive live-action scifi adventure (Side Street Studio Arts, Elgin, May 7th and 21st). Choreography is by Christine Hands, visual art by John Mosher. The Visual Art Exhibition runs May 6-28, 2016.
Ayodele Drum and Dance brings its spring concert, “Deja Vu: Flash Back Fly Forward” to the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts May 7th.
Ballet 5:8 School of the Arts' newest full-length story ballet, The Toymaker, (Stagg High School Performing Arts Center, Palos Hills, May 7-8) is a refreshing new story ballet with music from the fun-filled ballet Coppélia. Thanks to the delightful original score by Léo Delibes, spirited choreography inspired by Marius Petipa, and a story about a magical toymaker, the ballet brings out the best of the old and the new for a charming experience for the whole family. The production features a cast of over 100 students from Ballet 5:8 School of the Arts classical ballet training programs, all-new handmade costumes and sets, and choreography by Ballet 5:8 Artistic Director Julianna Slager.
Cerqua Rivera Dance Theater continues its “Inside/Out” series with Raphaelle Ziemba and Miles Davis (Old Town School of Folk Music, May 12). Dive deep into CRDT’s revival of “Corner Sketches: A Tribute to Miles Davis” with choreographer Raphaelle Ziemba and trumpeter Pharez Whitted. “Corner Sketches” is an audience favorite being revived for the first time in 5 years. Join Raphaelle in a discussion about interpreting this legendary music for today, a preview of the new choreography in progress, and an opportunity to be a part of the art.This event is part of CRDT Inside/Out 2016 – a seven-month creative and audience engagement journey which culminates in the Fall Concert Series. You are invited Inside the company and its artistic process while the company gets Out of the studio to share work in progress and to be fueled by Chicagoans all over the city.
Dance Shelter 2016 showcases potent contemporary dance works by 6 risk-taking choreographers, produced by the Chicago Moving Company (May 12-13, Hamlin Park Field House Theater). On the bill are: the Chicago premiere of Artistic Director Karla Beltchenko's "The Collectors", an investigation combining movement and film with live score by an of-the-moment music artist.
New works by noted experimentalists/CMC Artists in Residence include: Rachel Bunting/The Humans and Ayako Kato (featuring live music by noted avant-jazz artists: Jason Roebke/double bass/Thursday and Josh Berman/cornet/Friday) premieres by 3 young dancemakers, selected from CMC's 2015 D49 Festival: Linden Dream/Lyndsae Rinio, Momentum Sensorium/Helen Lee, Karen Yatsko. All 6 works are performed each night.
Esoteric Dance Project presents “Venture,” a performance series highlighting two premieres from Co-Artistic Director Brenna Pierson-Tucker and EDP’s inaugural Choreography Mentoring Program recipient, Joanna Paul (Links Hall, May 13-15). Also mounted is a reexamined duet originally debuted February 2014. The weekend long series promises an array of ideology, movement and complexity through the use of audience participation. Variable elements in the choreography promise a different artistic experience each night.
Salt Creek Ballet’s “Harlequinade: An Italian Fairy Tale” comes to the McAninch Arts Center of The College of DuPage (May 14-15). Performing the title role will be guest artist Yoshihisa Arai of the Joffrey Ballet. Harlequinade tells the story of love, loss and redemption through the antics of a colorful cast of characters, staged in the Comedia dell’Arte style. The program also includes a World Premiere, Beatbox, by Eddy Ocampo and an excerpt from the stupendous ballet, La Bayadère.
Nomi Dance Company closes its 9th season (Athenaeum Theatre, May 14) with a program commemorating the brilliance and talent of artists we have known and lost who had a powerful impact on the Chicago dance community. REMINICENCE will feature choreography from some of the most multifaceted and compelling choreographers Chicago has to offer, as well as a past audience favorite from a national guest artist. The program includes the commissioned works by Lizzie Mackenzie (Artistic Director of Extensions Dance Company, formally of River North Dance Chicago), Todd Rhoades (Lyric Opera of Chicago, Luna Negra Dance Theater, Ron De Jesus Dance) and Paula Frasz (Artistic Director of Danzloop Chicago, Northern Illinois University). Nomi will also bring back a work from guest artist Robert Priore (Company E, Washington D.C.).
Links Hall’s “Set Free” series continues May 16th with Peter Carpenter, Lisa Gonzales, Jessica Marasa, and Ysaye McKeaver. A SET FREE residency at Links Hall includes five Monday evening showings shared amongst four artists each receiving 25 minutes per evening to repeat and revisit the development of their work. The series ends with one final weekend performance split amongst all four artists involved.
Follow The Adventures of Tapman (Stage 773, May 28), Chicago's premiere tap dancing superhero, as he battles his arch nemesis, The MADD Tapper. Along the way, Tapman joins forces with The Modern Marvel, a crime-fighting modern dancer, in his quest to defeat The MADD Tapper. The Adventures of Tapman 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!
For details and tickets for all these wonderful dance events, go to seechicagodance.com and click on “Upcoming Events.”