Dance returns to the Harris with works by Akram Khan and Ragamala

The Harris Theater for Music and Dance resumes normal operations for the 2021-22 season, with a full line-up of public programs beginning this fall. Dance offerings include two previously postponed productions, both with ties to Akram Khan, and the return of Minneapolis-based Ragamala Dance Company.

Khan's solo work, "Xenos," is scheduled for Nov. 12 and 13. The performances are likely to be among his final appearances on stage. Khan made a splash at the Harris when English National Ballet gave the North American premiere of his "Giselle" in 2019. Khan's signature style blends contermporary and classical forms, informed by his training in Indian khatak and American modern dance. In "Xenos," he portrays a colonial soldier, one of four million non-white men employed in battle on behalf of Europe or the United States in World War I.

English National Ballet returns to the Harris Feb. 24-26 for Khan's full-length ballet "Creature," his third creation for that company. Loosely informed by Mary Shelley's classic novel "Frankenstein" and Georg Büchner's expressionist play, "Woyzeck," "Creature" tugs at frequent themes in Khan's work: isolation, identity and sense of place in a colonial and post-colonial world.

After a stunning Harris debut in 2019, Ragamala gives the premiere of "Fires of Varanasi: Dance of the Eternal Pilgrim" on Dec. 2, a project co-commissioned by the Harris and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Mother/daughter team Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy use the danced language of bharatanatyam to reflect a proverbial junction between the earthly world and the divine.

“We are thrilled to see so many long-awaited projects finally come to the Harris this season, some of them years in the making,” said Harris president and CEO Lori Dimun in a prepared statement. “These works were selected for their relevance and the themes they engage — isolation and connection, loss and legacy, and the search for belonging — will resonate in new ways because of what our city and our world have been through over the last year."

The season kick-off begins Aug. 22 with a rooftop soiree featuring luminary jazz musician Sam Trump. Between the roof and the subterranean Harris Theater is Pritzker Pavilion, which will host a screening on Sept. 2-4 of the examplary screendance series Films.Dance produced by Jacob Jonas The Company. Fortunately, that is a pandemic project that will continue into the future on the HT Virtual Stage. The Creative Future Fund will also continue, a program that provides free rehearsal space for local independent artists and companies.

Music programming notably includes recitals by Javier Camarena and Joyce DiDonato, plus the Chicago debut of Cape Town Opera in April 2022 presenting a contemporary restaging of the "Mandela Trilogy." Per tradition, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center will present the complete catalog of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos and Beyond the Aria, a wonderfully intimate dinner theater of sorts produced with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, is slated to return early next year.


Subscriptions are on sale now, available online or through the Harris Theater Box Office. Subscribers save 40% on tickets and receive benefits including free exchanges. During the 2021-22 season, subscribers may request a refund at any time prior to the performance if they are unable to attend. The Harris Theater Box Office is currently operating by phone only from 12–5 p.m., Tues. through Thurs. Call 312.334.7777 or email for more information or visit the organization page below.