Dances in and about nature bestrew September

These late summer days are for relishing the outdoors and Chicago dance is taking full advantage. South Chicago Dance Theatre performs Sept. 6 and 13 in two South Side parks with D-Composed, a chamber music group that plays music by composers from within the African diaspora. Ground Rhythm Dance Project is also dancing in the parks, with performances of this emerging company’s Breaking Grounds series at Abbott Park and Holstein Park, which deconstructs works on the spot and puts them back together in new ways. 

There’s a flurry of activity supported by the Chicago Dancemakers Forum in partnership with the Nature Conservancy this month, with new works exploring the Calumet wetlands created by current and previous Lab Artist Award grantees. On Sept. 7, Ayako Kato and Nejla Yatkin – sure to be an ethereal and effervescent pair – present “Dances for this Land” at Indian Ridge Marsh, a wet prairie habitat near the Illinois/Indiana border. Nico Rubio gathers a group of hoofers for “Birds, Bugs and Tap” Sept. 21 at the Hegewisch Marsh, south of the Calumet River from Indian Ridge Marsh. They’ll be using the sounds of birds calls and insects to inspire a sort of call-and-response with tap dance. And the series concludes Oct. 5 with a performance along the Big Marsh’s bicycle paths by CDF Greenhouse artist Erin Kilmurray. A charter bus is available by reservation, providing transportation to all three events from the Roosevelt Red/Green/Orange line station.

Emily Johnson makes her Chicago debut with “Then a Cunning Voice and a Night We Spend Gazing at Stars.” Taking cues from Johnson’s verbose title, this all-night experience beginning Sept. 28 begins with a two-mile nature walk and ends with breakfast. In between, a sensory feast including periods of performance, guided meditation and sharing of stories, and food in beautiful Calumet Park. Those with the stamina to stay up are encouraged to do so – though it seems self-care is not discouraged should you find yourself dozing on one of the hand-made quilts which serve as a home base for the night.

There’s plenty to do indoors, too, with landmark anniversaries for the decade-old Harvest Chicago Contemporary Dance Festival and Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre, who kicks off its twentieth anniversary with a fall tour of “America/Americans,” which includes the premiere of co-founder Wilfredo Rivera’s first full-length work, “American Catracho.” In it, Rivera tells his story about immigrating from Honduras, but this timely work also examines current tensions around immigration and race.

Additional September performances on See Chicago Dance are listed below: