Tradition and Innovation Fuel February Dance

Now that February is upon us, the new year is off and running with a jam-packed roster of exciting and varied dance events. Genre lines blur as modern meets tradition, with Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre’s modern dance Valentine and Thodos Dance Chicago’s “Timeless Motion”  at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts. The Shen Yun Show highlights ancient Chinese tradition the Harris,  while challenging programming from The Joffrey Ballet’s “Game Changers” sends us to the cutting edge in contemporary ballet at the Auditorium Theatre. The Museum of Contemporary Art shines a spotlight on Merce Cunningham’s innovation in the use of music and visual art, found movement, and chance in performance events and an exhibit. Cunningham’s ground-breaking ideas have become a legacy in the development of 20th-century modern dance. See how this bold-thinking choreographer stunned the dance world and influenced dance makers across the spectrum of contemporary concert dance at the MCA’s Cunningham Event, a series of short performances by former Cunningham company members, along with Ballet de Lorraine’s concert featuring seminal works by Merce Cunningham. Kick the winter blahs, get out of the house, and See Chicago Dance!




DEEPLY ROOTED DANCE THEATRE offers a Valentines-inspired program embodying various aspects of love. (Saturday, February 4th, 7:30 PM, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts) Chicago’s Deeply Rooted Dance Theater’s contemporary choreography is rooted in traditions of African-American dance, storytelling, and universal themes that spark a visceral experience and ignite an emotional response in diverse audiences worldwide.Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre


The SHEN YUN SHOW 2017 (February 7-March 12, Harris Theater) combines musical theater, ballroom dance, ballet. aerial dance, circus arts, and culturally specific dance in a unique program depicting ancient Chinese culture. In ancient times, China was known as the Land of the Divine. Everyone, from emperors to the common people, believed that their culture was a gift from heaven. They lived in harmony with the universe and saw a connection among all things. Traditional Chinese culture carried these principles for thousands of years—until this world was lost.  But in 2006, a group of elite Chinese artists came together in New York with a mission—to revive traditional culture and share it with the world. They created Shen Yun and brought this majestic culture back from the brink of extinction. Pushing the boundaries of performing arts, the producers of The Shen Yun Show combine ancient legends with technological innovations, and historically authentic costumes with breathtaking animated backdrops. They let classical Chinese dance do the storytelling, sharing beautifully diverse ethnic and folk traditions. Filled with an enchanting orchestral sound, this is a mesmerizing experience you won’t find anywhere else.The Shen Yun Show


The CUNNINGHAM EVENT unfolds at The Museum of Contemporary Art (Saturday and Sunday, February 11th and 12th, 1:30 and and 4 PM) Drawing from key works that span six decades of original choreography, former dancers of the remarkable Merce Cunningham Dance Company perform Cunningham's signature approach to dance in non-conventional spaces. Presented in the fourth-floor lobby, it is an experience of unmitigated Cunningham genius at full strength. Event is performed twice each day during gallery hours (with limited capacity) and lasts about 30 minutes. An additional program, “MUSIC FOR MERCE,” takes place on the MCA stage (Saturday, February 25th, 7:30 PM; Sunday, February 26th, 3 PM). Merce Cunningham and John Cage, partners in life and art, defied expectations of how to do things. Their restless explorations not only revolutionized their individual fields, they also changed the relation of music and dance. Instead of dance moving to music, they created both elements separately and brought them together at the performance—fundamentally changing the nature of how we experience performance. As Cage wrote in a program note for an early Cunningham performance, this is art that doesn’t “say” something, but rather simply “presents” activity. “Music for Merce" features an all-star cast of former Cunningham collaborators convened by guest curator John King. These major figures include David Behrman, Joan La Barbara, Fast Forward, George Lewis, Ikue Mori, Zeena Parkins, Quinta, Phil Selway, and Christian Wolff. Presented in conjunction with Merce Cunningham: Common Time.Merce Cunningham


BALLET DE LORRAINE, (SaturdayFebruary 18, 7:30 PM and Sunday, February 19th, 3 PM, Museum of Contemporary Art, in conjunction with The Dance Center of Columbia College), presents works by MERCE CUNNINGHAM and others. Sounddance (1975) is one of Cunningham's  most beloved pieces. Created in opposition to the uniformity and unison of classical ballet, the work is fast and vigorous, driven by a powerful score by musician-composer David Tudor. Inspired by the 64 hexagrams in the I ching, Cunningham created Fabrications (1987) by combining 64 dance phrases to form a deeper interconnected whole. The multidisciplinary collaboration features live music by the original composer Emanual Dimas de Melo Pimenta, and striking visual design by artist Dove Bradshaw. Untitled Partner #3 | was created by Ballet de Lorraine's artistic director, Petter Jacobsson, and the company's rehearsal director and coordinator of research Thomas Caley (Merce Cunningham Dance Company 1993-2000).


THE JOFFREY BALLET’s “GAME CHANGERS” ( February 15-26, Auditorium Theatre)  brings abstract works by three cutting edge contemporary ballet choreographers. Christopher Wheeldon’s “Fool’s Paradise,” set to the changing moods of Joby Talbot’s music, is an abstract work that explores the intensity of emotional connections in solos, duets, and trios. Wayne McGregor’s “INFRA,” set to the music of Max Richter, is all about seeing below the surface of things, what is inferred rather than obliquely spelled out. Justin Peck’s “Year of the Rabbit,” is a musically driven piece, with an electronic song cycle by composer Sufjan Stevens. Energetic and jazzy with an urban hip feel, “Rabbit” was Peck’s first truly public work, created for the New York City Ballet, for which he is both a dancer and resident choreographer. Joffrey Ballet's April Daly and fabrice Calmels


You can always count on something new and different from THE CAMBRIANS. “EMPRESS ARCHER” (February 16-19, 8 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music), produced by The Cambrians founder Benjamin Holliday Wardell, is an international dance collaboration created by The Cambrians, featuring dancers Ariel Freedman and Meredith Webster. These two performers spent the last 18 months creating duets with a dozen choreographers from across the globe. Now they're coming to Chicago to work with dancer and director Benjamin Wardell to mix these diverse duets into an evening-length performance. The performance centers on the relationship these two artists have built over their time working together. This intimate portrait of their friendship manages to be both goofy and serene and, at times, downright feral. As always, The Cambrians puts the audience in the middle of the action, bringing you up close and personal with some truly world class dance."Empress Archer"



THODOS DANCE CHICAGO's Winter Concert Timeless Motion (Saturday, February 25th, 7:30 PM, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts) includes two world premieres: Changing Strangers by Melissa Thodos, touches on partnership and distance, boasts her singular fluid, kinetic style. Acid Reign, in which TDC guest choreographer Brian Enos answers the question "what might a celebration look like on another planet in the future?" Also on the program is Near Light, a very personal 2015 work by Melissa Thodos with glistening lighting and daunting lifts that combine for a memorable story of healing and support. Three additional works have emerged from the company's New Dances in-house choreography series: Flawed, a lovely 2014 duet by TDC ensemble member John Cartwright, and two works that premiered at New Dances 2016, now making their official debut in Skokie: Uncovering by Thodos ensemble member Briana Robinson, and Sunrise by guest choreographer Shannon Alivs.Thodos Dance Chicago




Kjell Theøry ( 7 PM, Friday, February 3rd  and Saturday, February 4th, Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts) is an Augmented Reality performance juxtaposing the writings of Alan Turing—a gay twentieth century computing pioneer—about pattern and shape in the natural world with algorithmic mutations of Guillaume Apollinaire’s 1917 play The Breasts of Tiresias, a gender fluid spectacle.



JACKIE CHAN’S LONG YUN KUNG FU TROUPE celebrates Chinese New Year (Saturday, February 4th, 7:30 PM,  Auditorium Theatre) with Jackie Chan’s Long Yun Kung Fu Troupe from Beijing in an evening of heart-stopping artistry and athleticism. The 11 members of the Long Yun troupe – hand-picked by internationally renowned martial artist, actor, and film director Jackie Chan – effortlessly combine elements of traditional kung fu, ballet, and modern dance in the mesmerizing program 11 Warriors.  Co-presented with the Chinese Fine Arts Society and Choose Chicago as part of the City of Chicago’s annual Chinese New Year Celebration, the Long Yun Kung Fu Troupe promises an unforgettable evening that is perfect for the whole family!Jackie Chan's Long Yun Kung Fu Troupe


PEREGRINE MIDWEST’s  Shared Evening with Jessica Cornish and Eryka Dellenbach,  (Monday, February 6th, &:30 and 9 PM, Links Hall) defines Peregrine as “outlandish; foreign; engaged in or traveling on a pilgrimage; wanderer; 'pilgrim falcon'; a falcon breeding chiefly on mountains and coastal cliffs.” 

Jessica Cornish and Ambrosia Bartošekulva... 

are anti-conceptualists responding to inner and outer environments through improvised movement, sound, and aria. Both have lived nomadic lives, simultaneously landing in the Midwest. Allowing each other's barren elemental energies to intermingle, they find common ground in each other’s expressions. Eryka Dellenbach and HOGG...

use the force and palpability of their bodies to pursue impact and vibration with wood, metal relics, sound devices, and other skins. They find mutual resonance and solitary intimacy with the animate-inanimate through games of percussive passing and exchanging rhythms in part from respective backgrounds in flamenco and industrial music. 


After a long hiatus, JAY-SON TISA DANCE COMPANY will re-emerge with 15 new works, performed over two nights, (7 PM, February 10th and 11th, The Center on Halsted), from Derek Jay-Son Rusch, Mary Tisa and dancers.  

New Dance Series (Feb. 10th) is comprised of four pieces choreographed by new emerging artists: Monica Carrow, Maggie Priore, Amanda Ramirez and Dalton Rhodes.  Included in this performance, a preview of Saturday night’s performance, Resurface will premiere: “Emerge”, “Community” and “Cairn.”  The full performance of “Resurface,”  Feb. 11th) is a 10 piece autobiographical dance performance about the grieving process of death, adoption, new beginnings, identity and biracial love.  “Resurface” features principal company members Monica Carrow, Jimmy Hibbard, Courtney Martin, Tayne Murphy, Maggie Priore, Amanda Ramirez and Dalton Rhodes.  Guest dancers include: Quincie Bean, Molly McMillan, Meghan Rhodes and Shailey Rodriquez.Jay-Son Tisa Dance Company


SIMANTIKOS DANCE CHICAGO 's Celebration of Chicago Art  (5-9 PM, Saturday, February 11th, Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts) will showcase both visual and performing artists in a one-night-only exhibition. Doors will open at 5 for mingling, concessions, pictures on the red carpet, and viewing/buying visual art. The performance will component will run in the main auditorium from 7 to 9. This event offers participants an amazing venue to present in, free videography and photography of their pieces, and the profit of their ticket sales. This event will also be used as a fundraiser for Simantikos Dance Chicago, with the profits going towards subsizing school showings this Spring and towards the commissioning of an original composition by the world renowned composer, Norberto Oldrini.Simantikos Dance Chicago  


The 15th CHICAGO FLAMENCO FESTIVAL (Kick-off, Tuesday, February 21st, 8 PM, City Winery) is presented by the Instituto Cervantes, City Winery Chicago, Old Town School of Folk Music and the Flamenco Arts Center. This year’s extended, 5-week festival kicks off with an evening of music and dance featuring the shared cultural history of medieval Andalusia to the present by members of the ensemble Surabhi (founded by Saraswathi Ranganathan). The performance will include original and traditional repertoire with Spanish guitar, Arabo-Andalusian poetry, music by Ronnie Malley on oud and harmonium as well as Rajasthani folk dance by Kinnari Vora and flamenco and Mid-Eastern dance by Marisela Tapia. The evening will also feature Saraswathi Ranganathan (veena), Carlo Basile (guitar), Dhananjay Kunte (tabla), Diego Alonso (guitar), Greg Nergaard (bass), and Bob Garrett (percussion).Chicago Flamenco Festival


PERCEPTUAL MOTION, INC.’s program for Made in Chicago (Thursday, February 23rd, 12:15 PM, Harold Washington Library) features the premiere of the dance created from PMI's “Your Ideas in Motion Contest” held in December, a sneak peek at dances to be performed at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts on April 8 and favorite works from the repertory. Choreographer Lin Shook and PMI dancers will discuss the dances, lead interactive activities and answer questions from the

audience.Perceptual Motion, Inc.


THE TRIUMPMPH OF FAME, (Saturday, February 25th, Defibrillator Performance Art Gallery) presents one-on-one performances, taking place every 20 minutes from 5pm to 10pm each day. Performance is free but advance registration is required at Swiss-based performer Marie-Caroline Hominal strips down the codes of theatrical artifice in a phantasmagorical and intimate one-on-one encounter with an audience member scheduled every 20 minutes. The Triumph of Fame is one of six poems by Petrarch titled I Trionfi, which describe life through dueling virtues using the idea of triumph allegorically. In the poems, Fame triumphs over Death but is then defeated by Time and Eternity.


DANCEWORKS CHICAGO is excited to partner with the Lou Conte Dance Studio on DanceChance (Friday, February 24th, 7 PM, Lou Conte Studio), a one-hour, monthly event designed to offer opportunities for choreographers to show their work informally, create a forum for dialogue among artists, and build audience for dance. 


“A RIDE ON THE IRISH CREAM” (Friday and Saturday, February 24th and 25th), is a fresh and surprising new musical anchored inside the memory of a Michigan backyard on the bank of the Kawkawlin River. A Ride On The Irish Cream rushes forth from the mind of celebrated cabaret and performance artist Erin Markey. A live band and swath of carpet become the space for the thrills and terrors of a relationship between Reagan (Markey), a vainglorious self-made girl, and Irish Cream (Becca Blackwell), her family's pontoon boat/horse. 

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) presents the fourth annual OnEdge, the experimental live performance series, February 23–March 25, 2016.  The FREE admission series will feature Chicago and world premieres from national and international artists."A Ride on the Irish Cream"