February's Dance Valentine

February sweetens Chicago’s winter with dance valentines for every taste. Ballet lovers can gorge on delectable programs from both the Joffrey and American Ballet Theatre in seasons of contemporary works. The legendary Mikhail Baryshnikov reinvents himself in ever new and creative explorations into theater and poetry, and The Museum of Contemporary Art Stage presents a provocative investigation of perception and the dancing body in all its permutations with Claire Cunningham and Jess Curtis’s “The Way You Look (at me) Tonight.” February is fairly bursting with an exciting variety of new works. Enjoy hip-hop, Jazz, modern, and crossover interdisciplinary collaborations of music, visual art, and theater. 


The Cherry Orchard Festival , presents the Chicago premiere of the critically-acclaimed play “Brodsky/Baryshnikov,” (February 2-3, 8 PM; February 4, 2 PM; Harris Theater) conceived and directed by Alvis Hermanis and starring Mikhail Baryshnikov at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. "Brodsky / Baryshnikov” is a one-man show based on the poems of Nobel Laureate Joseph Brodsky, performed by legendary dancer/actor Mikhail Baryshnikov. It is an emotional journey deep into the poet’s visceral and complex compositions. Performed in Russian and subtitled in English, Baryshnikov recites a selection of his long-time friend’s poignant and eloquent works using subtle physicality to transport the audience into Hermanis’  reverent imagining of Brodsky’s interior world. The U.K.’s The Stage hails the work as “a deeply felt tribute…poignant,” and What’s on Stage calls it, “a gift from one great artist to another, a debt of love…you can hear a pin drop as the 90-minutes unfolds.” “Brodsky / Baryshnikov” premiered at the New Riga Theatre, Riga, Latvia in Oct. 15, 2015 and had its North American premiere at the Baryshnikov Arts Center’s Jerome Robbins Theater, March 9, 2016. "Brodsky / Baryshnikov" is performed in Russian with English surtitles/translation by Jamey Gambrell. “Brodsky / Baryshnikov” is based on the poems of Joseph Brodsky, Copyright © 2015, The Estate of Joseph Brodsky. All rights reserved.Joseph Brodsky and Mikhail Baryshnikov, 1985


Break out your favorite Schwarzenegger flicks cause Chicago’s most popular pro dance battle THE ‘KEEPER OF THE FLOOR’ DANCE BATTLE (KTF) (February 3rd, 9 PM; Den Theatre) is storming The Den Theatre with a special action-movie themed contest! Enjoy the drink specials and get your tickets NOW because they WILL sell out to cheer on the first “Keeper of The Floor”of 2018! Chicago Dance Crash continues to blur the line between art and entertainment with the city’s most notorious dance battle. KTF matches competitive dance with the energy of late-night theatre and the spectacle of sports entertainment, featuring some of the City’s most accomplished dancers battling it out for YOUR vote and the coveted KTF title belt!…and don’t forget about your host, the one and only Mr. Mattrick Swayze!


The Joffrey Ballet’s “Modern Masters” (February 7-18, Auditorium Theatre), a dynamic program of shorter ballets, brings together two legendary icons with today’s rising stars, as playful wit comes head-to-head with youthful exuberance. George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments and Jerome RobbinsGlass Pieces (both Joffrey premieres) highlight a visceral program of modern masterpieces and new works, including a world premiere from Joffrey Ballet Master Nicolas Blanc and a reprising of Body of Your Dreams by San Francisco Ballet’s Myles Thatcher. Save 10%! Use code: SCD10. *Discount not valid on previously purchased tickets. Restrictions apply.The Joffrey Ballet's "Modern Masters"


Artist and leading disability culture activist Claire Cunningham and Jess Curtis—recipient of the Herb Alpert Award for Choreography—debut in Chicago with The Way You Look (at me) Tonight (February 8-9-10, 7:30 PM; February 11, 2 PM; Museum of Contemporary Art Stage). This sensory journey explores how we, as a society, perceive people and the world. Set to a lilting collage of original music and video, the duet dances, sings, and tells stories in close proximity to the seated audience. The performers excavate their own ways of seeing each other—as a man and woman of different ages, bodies, and backgrounds —spurring introspective moments and self-reflection."The Way You Look (at me) Tonight"


Curtis first introduced Cunningham to movement in 2005, leading to her own career as a choreographer. For this new work, they combine their mutual interests in the ideas of noted author and philosopher Dr. Alva Noë, in order to investigate new ways of examining perception. With Noë—who is no stranger to performance, having worked with choreographer William Forsythe—they conceived and created The Way You Look (at me) Tonight as a kinetic social sculpture. Throughout the live performance, Noë’s ideas and voice are incorporated via audio/video by media artist Yoann Trellu, with original music by Matthias Hermann and dramaturgy by Luke Pell. Presented in association with Bodies of Work.


The Harris Theater for Music and Dance invites you to its 2018 Gala, CELEBRATE THE HARRIS: AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE (February 21; 6 PM; Harris Theater for Music and Dance) celebrating the triumphant return of American Ballet Theatre to Chicago, where they will be taking the stage exclusively at the Harris. The program includes “Her Notes” (2016) choreography by Jessica Lang; “Other Dances” (1976) choreography by Jerome Robbins; and “Thirteen Diversions" (2011) choreography by Christopher Wheeldon. The approximate running time of this performance is 1 hour (no intermission). Take part in this enchanting evening of dance by reserving your seats online for $40 (performance only). For more information about purchasing a table or an individual ticket to experience the complete Celebrate the Harris 2018 Gala, visit the gala webpage or call 312.334.2460. You can also download a pledge form here.Baryshnikov and Makarova in "Other Dances"

Program A ( 7:30 PM, February 22 and 24) includes “Songs of Bukovina” (2017) choreography by Alexei Ratmansky; “The Leaves Are Fading” (1975) Pas de Deux choreography by Antony Tudor;  “Don Quixote” (1869) Grand Pas de Deux choreography by Marius Petipa; and “Thirteen Diversions” (2011) choreography by Christopher Wheeldon.
Program B (7:30 PM, February 23) presents “Her Notes” (2016) choreography by Jessica Lang, “Other Dances “(1976) choreography by Jerome Robbins; “Serenade After Plato’s Symposium” (2016) choreography by Alexei Ratmansky; and “I Feel the Earth Move” (2017) choreography by Benjamin Millepied.American Ballet Theater

The EXELON FAMILY SERIES (2 PM, February 24) gives families an opportunity to share the wonder of dance as American Ballet Theatre presents ABTKids, a special, one-hour performance designed to introduce young audiences to the magic and beauty of dance. The performance, recommended for children ages 4-12, is narrated by a member of ABT’s Artistic Staff and features child-friendly highlights from the Company’s vast repertoire.




JUST ANOTHER RECENT GRAD SHOW (February 1-2, 7:30 PM, Hamlin Park Fieldhouse Theater.) Karen Yatsko and Anna Rodimtseva  present reworking of dances they created while in college.Just Another Recent Grad Show

In PROJECT TOOL (February 2, 3, and 9; 7 PM, Chicago Cultural Center, free admission), dancers, using handheld tools and legacy processes, explore the relationship between mind, body and tool. While sawing, hammering, sanding and nailing, the dancers collaborate with tools as if they are partners in a dance with the body while building a wood, spring dance floor upon which they dance. Artistic direction is by Onye Ozuzu. Project Tool is a 2016 Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist recipient as well as a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Project co-commissioned by Links Hall in partnership with Dancing Grounds and NPN. For more information, visit www.ozuzudances.com

STILL INSPIRED(?): CONNECTIONS (February 2-3; 7:30 PM; Dovetail Studios for Dance and Fitness) is a dance performance showcasing the inspirations of multiple independent dance and visual artists. With four pieces and four choreographers, the performance shares visions of art between “still” and “live.” This season each choreographer is presenting a dance piece inspired by the work of local Chicago visual artist, Sergio Gomez. “Still Inspired (?)” questions our current societal views of art as an outlet for creation, enlightenment, and education. With ever-changing advancements and a growing want for immediate satisfaction, can we still be inspired by the patience and virtue of art as an alternate means of communication? 

Celebrating their 30th anniversary year, Doug Varone and Dancers return to the Dance Center stage for the first time since 2001 (February 8, 9, and 10, 7:30 PM, The Dance Center of Columbia College). The program features a revival of Varone classics; including Boats Leaving and Lux.  Nocturne(s), a solo work created and performed by Varone, pairs a new solo, Nocturne in E. Minor, Opus 72 #1, which premiered this summer at Jacob’s Pillow, with another solo created 30 years earlier, Nocturne in D Flat Major, Opus 27 #2. The company will also perform the duet folded from in the shelter of the fold, a cycle of episodic, stand-alone vignettes that explore the many forms of faith and belief, as well as the acts of coping, realization, choice and the expectations attached to it. The vignette folded, set to music by Julia Wolfe, examines the fragile and precarious nature of intimacy.Doug Varone and Dancers

FLAVORS Youth Dance Festival (February 9; 7 PM; Nicholas Sent Auditorium) offers a collaborative performance hosted by The Joel Hall Dancers Youth Company, featuring some of Chicago's most talented and diverse youth dance companies. With a variety of backgrounds and styles, this evening of dance provides something for everyone!

InterPlay Chicago—The Unbelievable Beauty of Being Human (February 11; 2 and 4 PM; Prop Theater) is an intergenerational performance with Wheeling HS Orchesis members and additional students from the Chicagoland area. The Unbelievable Beauty of Being Human (UBBH) will be created in the moment. The UBBH format of and InterPlay Performance combines storytelling, movement and vocalizations. InterPlay uses the stuff of our lives as its content. It tends toward real people and real stories, often highlighting what might sometimes seem mundane. It can be funny or poignant, pointed or broad, verbal or non-verbal, analytical or emotional. We create songs, dances, stories and sometimes various combinations of all of these things on the spot and in the moment. Age ranges of performers will range from high school students through performers 60+. All have a background and training in InterPlay tools and practices.InterPlay


If We Invested: Dance and Conversation With The Luna Troop ( February 11 and 18; 3 PM;Dovetail Studios for Dance & Fitness). The Luna Troop had its first Chicago performance in 1996. Over the last twenty years, The Luna Troop has stayed true to its founder Sarah Heston's original vision: To return dancers to dance, nurture developing talent and bring dance to a wider audience. From performing at Millennium celebrations and Shakespeare festivals, to presenting concerts and showcases, The Luna Troop has always sought to make dance accessible to audiences and performers both. Current and former company member's ages span five decades and we reject the idea that anyone must give up dance due to age, injury, or career path. The ember of dance may lie hidden under layers of family obligation, school or work demands, or the general static of everyday life; The Luna Troop works to rekindle the flame.

Hosted at Uncommon Ground Edgewater as part of their annual One Voice Series, A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer (February 15-16; 7:30 PM; Uncommon Ground Edgewater), edited by Eve Ensler, author of Vagina Monologues and Mollie Doyle, is a benefit performance for both the V-Day and One Billion Rising campaigns. A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer is a collection of monologues examining violence of all levels towards women and girls. Directed by CDE Ensemble Member, Maggie Robinson and Kristen Cone, each monologue will be devised using dance, theatre and multimedia. With the evening themed around solidarity, CDE collaborates with willing, local community members to share and speak their truths, either as themselves or through a performer. Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble annually hosts the One Voice Series to unite and empower surivors, as well as spread awareness on domestic and sexual assault violence to inspire action and change. This year’s One Voice Series benefit performance is part of both the V-Day and One Billion Rising campaigns. The V-Day and One Billion Rising campaigns seek to raise awareness around violence towards not only women and girls, but men and boys, as well. Throughout the month of February, men and women come together to host events internationally to take action, share stories, raise money and educate the community. CDE is pleased to host this year’s One Voice Series at Uncommon Ground Edgewater.  All proceeds will be donated to a local domestic violence charities providing support for individuals to leave unsafe environments in the Chicagoland area. Guests are strongly encouraged to book a table and purchase tickets in advance. To reserve your table, please click here.

AYAKO KATO Co-MISSION Fellowship Premiere: stück 1998/anchor/2018 (February 16, 18, 22, & 24; 7 PM; Links Hall) Reflecting upon choreographer Ayako Kato’s long history of groundbreaking collaborations with contemporary musicians, Art Union Humanscape has entered into a partnership with Swiss Wandelweiser composer Manfred Werder to kick off the company's 20th anniversary season. Working with a dancer, two musicians, and a singer/dancer Kato will embody 30 pages of Werder’s 4000-page score stück 1998. As the score is only allowed to be performed once, Kato will offer four different evenings of content, each evening presenting  a new segment of Werder’s composition and a new approach to it’s embodied interpretation. To prepare the audience mentally and emotionally for the meditative experience of stück 1998 / anchor 2018  and bring them into the rhythm of the work, each performance begins with an opening ceremony. Flower essence and herbal tea blended by urban ecologist Nance Klehm will be served. Please visit www.artunionhumanscape.net for more details.Ayako Kato

Day 1: Friday, February 16: Music/Sound First
Day 2: Sunday, February 18: Dance/Movement First
Day 3: Thursday, February 22: Music and Dance as Equals
Day 4: Saturday, February 24: Independence of Dance as anchor 2018
Tickets: $36 Four Day Anchor Pass (available online only) with 2018 Artist Book/Calendar; $10 - 15 online, $17 door.

Journey for the Sun: A SciFi Cartoon Circus ( 1 PM,February 17; 3 PM February 18, Visceral Dance Center; 7:30 PM, February 23, Noyes Cultural Arts Center, Evanston)  is written by Seth Bockley and Co-directed by Frank Maugeri (from the late Redmoon Theater and Cabinet of Curiosity Events), and Lindsey Noel Whiting – with brand new Circus choreography by award winning master teacher, Sylvia Hernandez - DiStasi, original music by Kevin O'Donnell and costumes by Sully Ratke. The cast includes Kasey Foster, Jean Carlos and Human Beatbox, Yuri Lane, and members of The Actors Gymnasium Teen Ensemble. 

In 1964, the sun is overheating and The Owner of an Indiana drive-in movie theater is called upon to save earth with an unlikely bunch of heros. Will The Owner and their sidekicks be able to save the galaxy and avert a human-made environmental catastrophe?

The creative team brings to life Eddy, an enormous intergalactic robot and Poppie, a real life talking popcorn machine in this intergalatic circus adventure! Journey for the Sun features astonishing aerialists, insane acrobatics, sophisticated puppetry, in-depth object design, film and cartoon animation. 

Co-Director Frank Maugeri says, "This is going to be good old fashioned pageant fun and serious circus madness, with a rock ship of a team." 


SCARLET (February 17, 7 PM, Hemmens Cultural Center, Elgin) Scarlet features original choreography by Ballet 5:8 Artistic Director Julianna Slager, film elements directed by choreographer and film producer Preston Miller, spoken word by Chicago-based artist Kylla Pate, and a dramatic score by American modernist composer Charles Ives. The full-length ballet follows the iconic Hester Prynne as she wrestles with her open guilt and grief in a judgmental society, while Reverend Dimmesdale suffers in silence with his secret sin and love. This classic story delves into the timeless struggles of hypocrisy, shame and ultimately, the hope of redemption. Audience members have called Scarlet “well done,” “spectacular,” and “brilliantly choreographed.”8 in "Scarlet"

J. Lindsay Brown Dan presents "In The Moment" (February 22, 23, and 24; 8:15 PM, The Drucker Center).J Lindsay Brown Dance, "In The Moment"



DanceWorks Chicago is excited to partner with the Lou Conte Dance Studio on DanceChance, (February 23, 7 PM, the Lou Conte Studio) a one-hour event designed to offer opportunities for choreographers to show their work informally, create a forum for dialogue among artists, and build audience for dance.

Deeply Rooted Dance Theater presents “LOOKING TO THE FUTURE” (February 24; 7:30 PM; North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, Skokie) Chicago’s Deeply Rooted Dance Theater 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. Collaborating with internationally renowned choreographers, across the spectrum of modern, ballet and African dance, DRDT’s work reflects many voices in contemporary life. Embarking on the next 20 years of artistic excellence, the company will premiere “Alice,” by Nicole Clarke-Springer, and feature “Desire,” “Heaven,” and “Church of Nations.”Deeply Rooted Dance Theater

For details and tickets, go to seechicagodance.com, and click on “Upcoming Events.”