A 2019 resolution that’s easy to keep: see Chicago dance


A note from Lynn Shapiro:

To The Dance Community, Its Dedicated Audience Members, and All Our Readers:

For the past five years, I have had the privilege of serving as editor and dance writer for See Chicago Dance. At this time, I am stepping down from my role as editor. This will give me more time to spend with family, including new grandchildren, and to devote myself more fully to my work as a visual artist. I will continue to write for See Chicago Dance, but with a less demanding schedule. 

I wish to thank the staff and board of See Chicago Dance for giving me the opportunity to serve as editor. I also want to thank my fellow dance writers with whom I have had the pleasure of collaborating, exchanging ideas, and striving together to further the craft and art of dance writing.

Among the many blessings my life has given me is the opportunity to stay connected to dance, a lifelong passion, first as a dancer and choreographer, then as a teacher, and currently as a dance writer. 

I am happy to pass along the editor’s baton to my colleague, Lauren Warnecke, whose leadership and expertise promise to enhance everything we do at See Chicago Dance to support dance in Chicago.

Please join me in wishing her well as we launch another exciting year of dance in our fair city. 

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, dance-filled 2019!

In 2012, I got a call from Sid Smith. Sid was still writing for the Chicago Tribune, and he and Laura Molzahn were the only writers at seechicagodance.com. I was asked to supplement the April coverage on the site, a particularly busy month for dance in Chicago – one we now designate as Chicago Dance Month. I wrote my very first professional review on River North Dance Chicago’s “Havana Blue” at the Auditorium Theatre.

Submitting that first review to Sid was terrifying, his noon deadline crippling, but I was instantly in love with the process. When Sid retired and Laura stepped into his role at the Tribune, I was lucky to be able to continue writing for See Chicago Dance under Vicki Crane and then Lynn Shapiro, who have both taught me so much about dance writing.

As I now step into this role as the editor of See Chicago Dance, I’m humbly aware of the big shoes I have to fill, and exceedingly grateful to Lynn for steering this ship for the last five years. She’s had to deal with me, after all (no easy task) and has maintained a steadfast commitment to communicating her deep passion for dance through writing. I’m glad to know her important voice will continue to be part of See Chicago Dance as a senior writer, so we may continue to benefit from her decades of experience seeing and writing about dance in Chicago.

We also have some exciting changes ahead, namely the addition of two new writers, Jordan Kunkel and Brianna Heath, which will allow us to increase the depth and breadth of our coverage here at See Chicago Dance. A hearty welcome to them both, and now onto this month’s Critic’s Picks!

January used to be a rather quiet month for dance, a hibernation period before the onslaught of big touring companies coming through town in February and March. Indeed, a resolution to see more dance in Chicago won’t be hard to keep, with a number of exciting events approaching to keep your dance card filled through the depths of winter. 

RE|dance group, photo by Matthew Gregory Hollis Celebrating its 10th anniversary this season, RE|dance group premieres new work at Hamlin Park Jan. 10-18. The “R” and the “E” of RE|dance, executive director Lucy Riner and artistic director Michael Estanich, have maintained a unique long distance artistic relationship across state lines for a decade, churning out gobs of long form works. Two companion pieces, “What Love Looks Like” and “The Biggest Wail from the Bottom of my Heart,” reflect on current events – rallying a call to political activism and imagining a world in which people of all classes and creeds are accepted equally. In his usual way, Estanich frames this within a beautiful, fantastical world, dancing an undoubtedly winding and satifying path through clouds and forest glades.

Sharing RE|dance’s opening weekend is Ragamala Dance Company’s “Written in Water,” Jan. 11 and 12 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. This Twin Cities-based Bharatanatyam company recently marked its 25th anniversary, with mother-daughter team Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy developing an aesthetic uniquely tailored to their experiences as first and second-generation Indian-Americans. For “Written in Water,” the choreographers drew from ancient Sufi texts and the Indian board game Paramapadam (the premise of which Milton Bradley used to create Chutes and Ladders) to generate movement, all set to live music and a stunning visual landscape by V. Keshav of Chennai, India.

Finally, acclaimed choreographer Donald Byrd and his Seattle-based company, Spectrum Dance Theater, return to the Dance Center Jan. 31-Feb. 2 for the first time since a tour in the 1994-95 season. Frequent visitors to the Dance Center will find Byrd’s palate pleasing; his “Rambunctious Iteration #3 – The Immigrants” is a relatively crisp and clean modern dance set to an enticing score by composers from countries historically or currently at odds with the United States, namely Cuba, Mexico, Russia, China and Iran.

Additional January events are listed below.