March to a Different Beat

There is enough wonderful dance happening in Chicago to keep you on your toes almost every night throughout the month of March. Local and touring companies from out of town grace stages small and large throughout the city. The town is fairly bursting with new, creative collaborations between choreographers, dancers, musicians, filmmakers, videographers, actors, poets and more.


One of the most exciting developments is the result of an experiment that began a couple of years ago between Visceral Dance Chicago’s artistic director Nick Pupillo and Scott Speck, director of the Chicago Philharmonic. “We are both repertory companies, and it seemed a natural to have the Philharmonic guest on a Visceral program,” says Pupillo.  Two initial pieces worked out so well for both companies that an evening-length work was soon in the planning stage. 


“We wanted to tell a story,” Pupillo explained, “but to create more of a contemporary work.”  The result is “The Dream,” premiering for one performance only at the Harris Theater at 3 PM on Sunday, March 5th. The story is adapted from Dostoyevsky’s 1877 short story, “The Dream of a Ridiculous Man,” which Pupillo sees as eerily parallel to crucial issues facing our society today. 


The main character, who has lost all care for humanity, fears he is suicidal, falls asleep and dreams himself into a utopian world on another planet. “It turns out, of course, he’s not crazy—the world is crazy,” Pupillo observed.  In his dream world, everything is perfect, and the man finds a degree of personal redemption he never thought possible, but then he see that the vestiges of the world he comes from are slowly poisoning the purity of this Utopian world. Determined to prevent this from happening, the man resolves to change his ways and awakens to a new lease on life.Chicago Philharmonic


In the formative months of the collaboration, Speck brought Pupillo three or four musical options for each section of the dance, including Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, Villa-Lobos, and Rachmaninov.  But then they merged into Johnny Greenwood and Radiohead in a transformative blend, true to Pupillo's creative impulses, of classical and modern idioms. All together, there are fourteen different pieces of music comprising a tapestry of sound. Despite Pupillo’s initial resistance to literal storytelling, “the piece turned into more of a theatrical production,” with the dancers mingling among the onstage orchestra. “The story became a good guide for us,” the choreographer reflected, “as we found so many parallels to what is going on right now in our country and in the world.” The piece for ten dancers features Brandon Coleman as the Ridiculous Man, and guest percussionist Peter Ferry, whom you may recall as the virtuoso marimba player in Pupillo’s stunning “Vital,” performed last fall at “Dance For Life.” 




Malpaso Dance Company of Havana (7:30 PM, March 9-11,  The Dance Center of Columbia College). Hailing from Cuba, Malpaso is a passionate contemporary dance ensemble that embodies the rich culture of Havana. Under the leadership of choreographer and artistic director Osnel Delgado, the company works to bring Cuban contemporary dance into the 21st century by collaborating with top international choreographers and nurturing new voices in Cuban choreography. Following Malpaso’s critically acclaimed international debut at The Joyce Theater in 2014, Malpaso continues to take the American dance world by storm. This ever-exciting ensemble makes its Chicago debut on the Dance Center stage with Indomitable Waltz, a new work by one of the world’s most in-demand choreographers, Aszure Barton. As Rebecca Gross observed for NEA Arts Magazine: “Watching the choreography of Aszure Barton is like watching the physical unfurling of the human psyche.”  The company will also perform the critically acclaimed “24 Hours and a Dog,” by Osnel Delgado.Malpaso Dance Company of Havana



Thodos Dance Chicago commemorates 25 years of artistry and innovation in its closing performance as an ensemble-based company (Auditorium Theatre, March 11, 7:30 PM). The company’s  final company performance for one night only features Thodos’ “Full Circle.” Thodos Dance Chicago presents an exhilarating evening in celebration of its Silver Anniversary, including a one-time-only performance of Founder and Artistic Director Melissa Thodos’  “The Wheel Trilogy,” which incorporates “Reaching There” (1986), “Getting There” (2011), and “There,” the final piece in the trilogy that will have its world premiere on this historic evening. The program also features the Chicago premiere of Bella Lewitzky’s Nos Duraturi, a mesmerizing, intricate work by the legendary West Coast choreographer. The Silver Anniversary performance opens with three short works: Brian Enos’ “Acid Reign” (created specifically for TDC’s anniversary season), company member Briana Robinson’s “Uncovering,” and Thodos’ “Changing Strangers.” Getting There (photo by Cheryl Mann)



Hubbard Street Spring Series (March 16-19, Harris Theater) pays tribute to its two-decade relationship with Nacho Duato, the Spanish-born artist, by reviving his plaintive, pastoral “Jardí Tancat" (1983), for three couples and set to Catalan music recorded by vocalist María del Mar Bonet i Verdaguer; and a duet from “Multiplicity.” Hubbard Street was one of the first dance companies in the U.S. to perform work by the global choreographer Duato, including “Forms of Silence and Emptiness” (1999), Duato’s two-act tribute to the composer J. S. Bach. Completing the Spring Series program are Lucas Crandall’s full-company work “Imprint” (2016), with improvised live percussion by Hubbard Street Dancer David Schultz; and Crystal Pite’s “Solo Echo” (2012), to music for cello and piano by Johannes Brahms.Hubbard Street



Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s performances at the Auditorium Theatre (March 22-16) have been an annual Chicago tradition for 47 years. Led by Artistic Director Robert Battle in a repertory that blends ballet, modern dance, jazz, and African dance techniques, the program features new works as well as “Revelations,” a cultural treasure beloved by generations of fans. Program A presents: DeepWalking Mad, Ella, Revelations on March 22 at 7:30 and March 25 at 8 PM; 

Program B: r-Evolution, Dream.Masekela LangageAfter the Rain Pas de DeuxRevelations on March 23 at 7:30 PM;

Program C: The Winter in LisbonUntitled AmericaIn/SideRevelations will take place on March 24 at 7:30 PM;

Program D: The Winter in Lisbonr-Evolution, Dream.Revelations will be performed on March 25 at 2 PM, and March 26 at 3 PM.Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater


Giordano Dance Chicago’s Spring Engagement debuts a new work by Liz Imperio, hailed as choreographer to the stars (March 31-April 1, Harris Theatre, 7:30 PM). The program will also feature former GDC dancer and River North Dance Chicago Artistic Director Frank Chaves’ restaging of “Grusin Suite,” a work that had its birth with GDC debuting as part of its Jazz Dance World Festival in 1993. The program also includes works from GDC’s repertoire:

·         “Divided Against” (2016). Peter Chu explores the divergent forces within us in this full company work set to original music by Jean-François (Djeff) Houle;

·          “A Ritual Dynamic” (2008). Jon Lehrer’s signature work will be restaged by GDC Artistic Director Nan Giordano to feature all 16 GDC dancers;

·          “Sneaky Pete” (2015). Brock Clawson draws on his love of theater to create this deliciously intriguing work with a touch of film noir;

·         “The Man That Got Away” (1990). This witty “pas de deux for one” was created by former GDC and RNDC Artistic Director Emeritus Sherry Zunker, and gifted to GDC in 2007.Giordano Dance Chicago




Dance Shelter/ Chicago Moving Company (March 2-3-4 / 7:30, Hamlin Park Fieldhouse Theater) presents potent contemporary dance works by 4 risk-taking choreographers.

On the bill are: "Gravity Falls,”  a premiere work-in-progress by Bessie Award-winning dance artist, Timothy Buckley; "Mobius/3" by the Chicago Moving Company---a site-specific quartet, at once lyrical, redolent by Japanese choreographer, Saiko Kino (recipient of the Yokohama Art Prize);  new works by noted experimentalists/CMC Artists in Residence:  Rachel Bunting/The Humans and Ayako Kato/Art Union Humanscape. Kato's "Tuning" is a sound and movement collaboration (featuring live music by Peter Maunu (Thursday/guitar, violin, mandolin) and both Maunu and Jason Roebke (double bass) on Friday. All 4 works are performed each night.Dance Shelter


Danceworks 2017: “Current Rhythms” (March 2-5, Josephine Louis Theater, Northwestern University, 7:30 PM) features exciting and innovative choreography that displays an entertaining and thought-provoking range of choreographic styles and techniques. Invited guest choreographers include Eduardo Vilaro, artistic director of New York City’s acclaimed Ballet Hispanico, and Onye Ozuzu, a performing artist, and current dance faculty and Dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts at Columbia College Chicago. The show will also include two new works by faculty members Jeff Hancock and Joel Valentín-Martínez.


Tiffany Lawson Dance/ “Harmony: a live music and dance festival” 

(March 2-5, Tom Robinson Gallery, 8 PM) features live music and dance pieces by artists from Chicago, New York, Nevada, California, and Maryland. Thursday-Saturday shows are at 8pm. Sunday’s show is at 7pm. Each show will run about an hour without intermission.  Each evening of the show will be a little different.


“minor matter” by Ligia Lewis (March 3-4, Chicago Cultural Center, 6 PM) presents 

Berlin-based choreographer Ligia Lewis in a program that uses dance, visual arts and the theater to pose questions concerning otherness and empathy in this second installment of a racially-conscious trilogy. Three performers build on minor aesthetics through a dynamic merger of the theater's parts, ultimately negotiating themselves in relation to visual and phonic play. In a time of anti-blackness, minor matter saturates the black box space with the elusiveness of black expression. “Harmony…” is part of The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) fourth annual OnEdge experimental live performance series. The FREE admission series features Chicago and world premieres from national and international artists.minor matter


“Livin’ The Dream/ Kelly Anderson Dance Theater” (March 3-5, Constellation at Links Hall, 7 PM) is a comedic dance theater work that gives this Solid Gold dreamer and her discouraged cast the opportunity to finally fulfill their childhood wishes of stardom. They may not have nailed that Broadway audition, have been handed an Olympic gold medal, or have delivered their Oscar acceptance speech, but “Livin’ the Dream” will give them the opportunity to do just that."Livin' The Dream"


MOMENTA Celebrates 35 Years of Dance (March 4 and 12, Doris Humphrey Memorial Theater, Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 7 PM). MOMENTA’s Spring Evening Concerts represent the extraordinary depth of our diversity in dance. We present excerpts from ballets that began as early as 1830 and 1844, as well as a delightful Russian folk dance created by our ballet master Valery Dolgallo. Our anniversary celebration includes excerpts from MOMENTA’s first ever concert in 1982 – Façade, has poetry by Edith Sitwell, music by William Walton and choreography by Stephanie Clemens. We are bringing back the ever popular solo Fire Dance (pictured above) by Loïe Fuller, who was, in 1900, the most famous dancer in the world – famous for her lighting as much as for her dancing. Two more historical dance works: Sonata Pathetique from 1920 by Doris Humphrey and Ruth St. Denis, and a variation on an excerpt from Martha Graham’s 1944 Appalachian Spring. We are excited to present two new physically integrated works, by Ginger Lane and a solo for Kris Lenzo by Sarah Cullen Fuller*; and a premiere of a new work by MOMENTA alumna, Connor Cornelius. Another of our alumnae, Jessica Kondrath, set her company's (Jessica Kondrath/THE MOVEMENT) work, WADE, a haunting piece for seven women. And a rousing Finale by Anita Fillmore Kenney and Cora D. Mitchell will have everyone dancing!!Momenta  



The Shen Yun Show 2017 (March 10-12, Harris Theater, 7:30 PM) combines ancient legends with technological innovations, and historically authentic costumes with breathtaking animated backdrops. Classical Chinese dance does the storytelling with diverse ethnic and folk traditions.


Consumed/ Chicago Danztheatre March 10-12, Ebenezer Lutheran Church, 8 PM) asks the question, “How do the people of tomorrow make the choice to begin consuming culture objectively?” By disconnecting and reconnecting with one another, can we rise up, redefining our modern American Dream?  Through movement, multimedia and satire, “Consumed” follows personal stories of distraction and downfall of Americans just like you. Directed: Sara Maslanka, Artistic Director.


“Winning Works” (March 11-12, Harold Washington Library, 2 PM and 7 PM) is the culminating performance following a national call for ALAANA (African, Latino(a), Asian, Arab and Native American) artists to submit applications for the Joffrey Academy’s Seventh Annual Winning Works Choreographic Competition. The winning choreographers Shannon Alvis, Sean Aaron Carmon, Karen Gabay and Jimmy Orrante will set their world premiere works on the exceptional and talented members of the Joffrey Academy Trainee Program and Studio Company.

Winning Works performances are sold out. It is expected that patrons will be accommodated off of a waitlist for this event. Should you wish to be placed on the waitlist for a sold out performance, please email Bridget at with your name, contact information, desired performance and number of tickets.


“THREE MATADORES” by Every house has a door (March 11-12, Reva and David Logan Center., 7 PM and 2 PM) offers a poetic meditation on identity, violence and the resonant beauty of language in the setting of a bullring. Based on work by the esteemed American poet Jay Wright, The Three Matadores is the first staging of the micro-play that appears in his book-length poem The Presentable Art of Reading Absence (2008). Originally devised as solos by the four performers – Sebastián Calderón Bentin, Stephen Fiehn, Tim Kinsella, and Anna Martine Whitehead – the works introduce, respond to and contextualize the writing.Three Matadores


lil BLK (March 16-18, Hamlin Park Fieldhouse Theater, 7:20 and 2 PM) tells the autobiographical story of a fairy boi, child of god, little black girl, performer and activist

The experimental solo performance is influenced by New York City gay/queer ballroom culture, live punk shows, butoh and praise dance.


FAB 2.0! EDE (March 16-19, Josephine Louis Theater, Northwestern University, various times) celebrates Evanston Dance Ensemble’s 20th Anniversary, dancing to the music of YESTERDAY. TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS where you’ll be, so get your TICKET TO RIDE because HERE COMES THE SUN.


MARCH 17-19 | In/Motion Dance Film Festival, Juried Screening and Award Ceremony (March 17-19, PM, Damen Student Center, Loyola University, 11:15 AM and 7:30 PM). The mission of In/Motion, the only Chicago dance film festival of its kind, is to celebrate dance performance within digital media platforms by encouraging artists to engage in interdisciplinary collaboration and by fostering innovation in the presentation of movement-based artworks.


Trashed/ Winifred Haun and Dancers and Aloft Circus Arts (March 18, 5:30 and 8:30 PM at Aloft Circus Arts) is an international choreographic collaboration between Chicago Choreographer Winifred Haun and Australian Circus Artist Emma Serjeant.  The new work combines Modern Dance with Contemporary Circus to tell the story of how humans have to come to clutter their lives with too much stuff.


In.Motion (March 18, Mundelein Center, Loyola University, 7 PM) presents “Celia Rowlson Hall, Feminism in Film/ Talk/Discussion,”  a discussion  on the breakthrough filmmaker’s feature film MA and the female body as story-telling vehicle.


Ballet 5:8 presents “Scarlet | A Dance/Film Hybrid” (March 18-19, Athenaeum Theatre, 7:30 and 2 PM). Ballet 5:8’s groundbreaking production uses classical ballet and film to bring to life a story inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.


Ayodele at CCC: Adult Concert March 19, Chicago Cultural Center, 3 PM). This free event is sponsored by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.


Cattywampus (March 23-15, Stage 773, 7:30 PM) is Abby Williams Dance's first self-produced show, a darkly humorous, hour-long piece about young women's mostly failed attempts at adulthood.Cattywampus


RashaunMitchell + Silas Riener in collaboration with Charles Atlas: Tesseract (March 23-15, Museum of Contemporary Art, 7:30 PM). 3D film reaches contemporary dance in this voyage into queer space, time, and bodies. Choreographers Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener, both dancers who performed with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, collaborate with radical video artist Charles Atlas on this new project that uses technology to shape new ways of seeing. Part film, part live performance, this event begins as a 3D viewing experience of dances composed for camera and unfolds into live dance with real-time video mixed and projected live by Atlas, allowing for multiple perspectives in motion. Tesseract


MARCH 23-24/ Alluvion Dance Chicago (March 23-24, Hamlin Park Fieldhouse Theater, 7:30 PM) presents “855 Peterson Drive.”

Alluvion Dance Chicago presents their second annual story show, 855 Peterson Drive. Following a girl and her journey for independence, the audience experiences love, loss, and the trials an individual goes through in order to have the life she's always imagined.


“COURT/GARDEN” by a canary torsi (March 24-15, Chicago Cultural Center, 7:30 PM) is a multimedia, dance and live music performance taking its inspiration from the imperial ballets of Louis XIV’s French Court and the participatory practices of the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Through operatic, spectacle-driven vocabulary, the work reflects on how we assemble and how our consumption and creation of images reflects our role as citizens. Like other works by a canary torsi, an anagram of choreographer Yanira Casto’s name, audience actions impact the outcome of this experienced work.

“Court/Garden” is sponsored by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.Court Garden


Chicago Tap Theatre presents "LIAISON" (March 25, Athenaeum Theatre, 7:30 PM) Recently recognized in “Best Dance Events of 2016” listings by the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Windy City Times, Dance Magazine, and See Chicago Dance, the company returns to the Athenaeum Mainstage with their signature blend of tap dance & live music, this time with international guests! A true melding of cultures and rhythms, “Liaison” proves that tap dance is a medium that transcends language. This is a rare opportunity to see CTT’s sister companies, Tapage (Toulouse, France) and Tap Olé (Barcelona, Spain). The last time they were in Chicago, four years ago, Tap Olé’s sand dance brought down the house and the Tribune said of Tapage; “envision the well-crafted fusion that would result if Marcel Marceau and Martha Graham created a tap company.” We are excited for the opportunity to share these companies with you again alongside the best of Chicago Tap Theatre!Chicago Tap Theatre


Forward: Past Present Future/Chicago Repertory Ballet (March 24-15, Victory Gardens Theatre at the Biograph, 8 PM and 2PM) commemorates CRB’s five year anniversary season. This production is a celebratory look at this young ballet company’s vibrant contemporary repertoire. See CRB favorites such as Artistic Director Wade Schaaf’s The Four Seasons, Bolero, Tenley Dorrill’s Still Life, and a never before seen world premiere work by Schaaf. 


DanceChance (March 31, Lou Conte Studio, 7 PM). DanceWorks Chicago is excited to partner with the Lou Conte Dance Studio on DanceChance, 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.


Out of the Echo Chamber/ J. Lindsay Brown Dance (March 31-April1, Dovetail Studios, 7:45 PM) is a collaborative showcase featuring works from J. Lindsay Brown Dance, Airyn Digman & Jessica Madden, Megan Rhodes, and Earlyn Whitehead. A collection of old and new works, J. Lindsay Brown will also premier excerpts from her newest project “PillowDance”, based on Sei Shōnagon's ancient Japanese text “The Pillow Book”.