As we begin to round the bend on another Chicago Dance Month, I admit I’m feeling a bit drunk on dance. It’s been an extraordinary season thus far, and while I’m tempted to take of my shoes and kick my feet up for a while, May is another month chock-full of dance in Chicago. And on this, the birthday of seminal ballet master Jean-Georges Noverre and recognized as International Dance Day, it seems necessary and appropriate to focus on a number of projects rooted in cross-cultural collaborations coming up next month. So, keep those shoes on and head out for some “hair of the dog” dance performances – you can relax in July.
Throughout the month, Butoh Chicago presents a plethora of workshops and performances under the umbrella title “Disillusion/dissolution.” Curated by celebrated performer Sara Zalek, this “non-Festival,” as Zalek calls it, travels between Wicker Park and downtown. The month kicks off May 1-4 with an intensive by Berlin-based Yuko Kaseki (who also performs on May 3) inspired by her teachings in Noguchi Taiso (Gymnastics), Tai-Chi Dao-yin and Butoh. It concludes May 25-31 with an intensive by Tadashi Endo, protégé to the Butoh master Kazuo Ohno. In between, witness one-day-only body-oriented performances by Jon Poindexter, Sara Zalek, and Holly Chernobyl, inspired by their setting at the International Museum of Surgical Science on May 10.
Chicago Moving Company’s Dance Shelter is May 2 and 3 at the Hamlin Park Theater, welcoming once-Chicagoan Jessie Young back for a guest spot with CMC artists-in-residence Rachel Bunting and Ayako Kato. It’s an unpredictable series in which almost anything goes, filled with raw works-in-progress and new creations by some of our city’s most inventive dance artists. An added bonus: CMC veteran Precious Jennings dances a duet with Jasmine Mendoza as part of an ongoing series retooling works by CMC and the late Nana Shineflug, the company’s founding director.
May 3-5 at Links Hall, Yoshinojo Fujima (a.k.a. Rika Lin) continues her ongoing collaboration with Tom Lee in “Beyond the Box III: Suji - Lines of Tradition.” Rooted in traditional Japanese forms of their respective mediums, Fujima and Lee challenge conventions of dance and puppetry to question notions of identity, gender expression and aesthetics in Japanese cultures.
Mordine & Company Dance Theater celebrates its 50th anniversary with an engagement at Links May 17 and 18, reviving works spanning 1974 to 2017, and including world premieres by members of the company, mentored by founding artistic director Shirley Mordine.
There's much more, but I'd be remiss not to mention Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg's return to the Auditorium Theatre May 17-19, with artistic director Boris Eifman’s “The Pygmalion Effect.” I honestly loved my first encounter with this company when “Red Giselle” came in 2017, and have every expectation that this North American premiere will pack as big a punch with Eifman's astonishing dancers, full-tilt production value and an imaginative plot about a choreographer who falls in love with his muse – a comic twist on the Greek myth.
Other May events are listed below: