The Merry Month of May is blooming with dance in Chicago. Audiences can delight in a colorful springtime bouquet of ballet, modern dance, and tap of all kinds, beginning with Jessica Lang Dance’s welcome return visit with a new-to-Chicago multi-disciplinary story ballet, and wrapping up the month with Chicago Dance Crash’s insanely fun annual dress-up dance event, KTF: A Night of Villains.” In between, don’t miss Ballet Chicago Studio Company’s 20th Anniversary season at the Harris, Hubbard Street’s exciting “danc(e)volve: Festival of New Works,” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, and Audible Odyssey’s “Persist: Tap Dance Made By Women” at Stage 773, and much, much more!
GuGu DRUM GROUP (7 PM, May 2, Studebaker Theatre) from Shanghai offers a theatrical drum drama depicting historical and culturally significant drum compositions that present profound insight into unity, human evolution, awareness, wisdom, social commitment, and communication through percussive movements. Director Yang Xiaodong and his authentic ancient drum movements as well as the actual ancient drums themselves represent a powerful lineage of drum movements dating back to the times of the Emperors of Chinese Dynasties with a contemporary approach to a moving presentation that has been featured at many outdoor festivals and arts centers throughout China. The show features drum vignettes based on timeless Chinese proverbs, fables, and fairy tales. Presented by invitation of The Chicago Human Rhythm Project.
JESSICA LANG DANCE presents “The Wanderer” (7:30 PM, Wednesday, May 3, Harris Theater). After last season’s world premiere of Tesseracts of Time, commissioned by the Harris Theater and the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial, prolific choreographer Jessica Lang creates a wondrous, romantic world in “The Wanderer.” This contemporary story ballet features sweeping choreography, imaginative set design, and beautiful dancing set to Franz Schubert’s moving operatic song cycle, “Die schöne Müllerin,” performed live. Hailed “a master of visual composition” by Dance Magazine, the Bessie Award winning Jessica Lang seamlessly incorporates striking design elements and transforms classical ballet language into artfully crafted, emotionally engaging contemporary work. Lang challenges the collaborative process and excels in her unconventional collaborations.
JOFFREY BALLET continues its season of “GLOBAL VISIONARIES” (7:30 PM, May 4, 5, & 6; 2 PM, May 6 & 7, Auditorium Theatre) with three strikingly different offerings. Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman returns to the Joffrey with his unique cinematic vision, humor, and originality in “Episode 47.” Yuri Possokhov’s dramatic post-World War I tableau, “The Miraculous Mandarin,” set to the music of Bela Bartok, receives its Chicago premiere, and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, renowned for her improvisational skill, returns to the Joffrey with “Mammatus,” her spellbinding take on a turbulent cloud formation. "Sexy in an ambient way, embodying the impersonal attractions and repulsions that drive nature's never-ending churning," says the Chicago Tribune.
jorsTAP chicago continues its run of “Gretel and Gretel: The Story of How Hansel Came To Be,” (7 PM, May 5-6, and 3 PM, May 7, Fulton Street Collective). A performance filled with tap dance, artistic collaboration, and a vibrantly creative atmosphere, the dancers invite you on this fairy tale journey through the woods. jorsTAP chicago can’t wait to close out their fifth season of collaboration with artist David Lee Csicsko. Artistic Director Kendra Jorstad says, “With Gretel and Gretel, the combination of an old school folk tale with a current topic, transgender identity issues,
Studio5 Fine Arts Series presents "Let's Face The Music And Dance” (8 PM, Friday, May 5, Studio5), featuring vocalist Petra van Nuis. Series director, SR, characterizes the event as “wildly fun,” but requiring some explanation. “You may know about Petra's great musical abilities, but you may not know that she is a former dancer. Our dance-centric theater inspired her to consider all the dance-themed jazz standards (e.g. "Shall We Dance", "Come Dance With Me", "Happy Feet") and wondered what it would be like to perform those pieces with her band while a pair of extraordinary swing dancers simultaneously improvised dance around them. Petra has designed a special dance-themed song list for us and will be joined by some of Chicago's finest jazz musicians ... and two great swing dancers, Denise Williams and Tom Bachtell, all improvising together. By the way, if Tom Bachtell's name sounds familiar, it may be because in addition to being a wonderful dancer he is also a noted cartoonist for the New Yorker. Whaaat? Doubly cool. We'll be sure to build a little time into the evening to chat with these interesting artists. And for you interested hoofers out there, for the final set of the evening, the dance floor will be open to the entire audience and you'll all be invited to get on up and shake your tail feather to this great band.”
Ascendence Dance Chicago presents “Anarchy” (8 PM, May 5-6; 2 PM, May 6-7, Theater Wit) Anarchy is a story told through a full length dance performance. Premiering original work by artistic director Heather Carpenter and movement by Ascendence Dance Chicago company dancers and guest artists. Featuring new works by choreographers Joey Hernandez, Kaitlin Webster, and Michael Artrip. Post- World War III, we struggle in the wreckage of our planet, stripped of any sense of humanity or normal way of life. Those who survived the apocalypse have created a new way of living known as “The Society" which is split into 3 distinct factions: the Government, the Resistance, and the Puritans. It is believed that one of the causes of humanity's downfall is time, because of this, the Government has outlawed and destroyed all tools of time-measurement. The only exception is a broken clock kept as a symbol of the Government's rule.…Yet there is one among the factions with a secret, a part of the past that could lead the Society into Anarchy, and be the key to saving civilization. Before humanity is lost forever.
Ballet Chicago celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the Ballet Chicago Studio Company (2 PM and 7:30 PM, May 6, Harris Theater). This season’s A Platinum Anniversary program features a World Premiere by renowned Chicago-based choreographer Frank Chaves set to original music by Josephine Lee, Artistic Director of the Chicago Children’s Choir, who will accompany the dancers herself on stage. The performance also includes revivals of masterworks by George Balanchine, and exciting works by Ballet Chicago Founder and Artistic Director Daniel Duell, and Ballet Chicago Resident Choreographer Ted Seymour.
Hubbard Street’s “Danc(e)volve: New Works Festival ( 7:30 PM, May 10, MCA) marks Hubbard Street’s fourth appearance since 2012 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s Edlis Neeson Theater. Season 39’s danc(e)volve engagement includes the latest creations by Chicago-based choreographers Julia Rhoads, founding artistic director of Lucky Plush Productions; three-time Princess Grace Award–winner Robyn Mineko Williams; and 2016 International Commissioning Project choreographer Alice Klock. Completing the program will be the mainstage debut of Berceuse by 2016 Princess Grace Choreography Fellowship awardee Penny Saunders, originally developed through Hubbard Street’s 2011 Inside/Out Choreographic Workshop, and set to excerpts from the opera Jocelyn (1888) by French composer Benjamin Louis Paul Godard.
Rennie Harris Puremovement participates in the ExelonFamily Series (2 PM, May 13, Harris Theater) with “RHAW” – Rennie Harris Awe-Inspiring Works. The RHAW show is an energetic, inspiring, and breath-taking program focusing on forging new paths for young hip hop hopefuls and presents hip hop in its “RHAW-est” forms, while highlighting urban culture. RHPM’s work encompasses rich and diverse African-American traditions of the past while simultaneously presenting the voice of a new generation and has continued to encourage young dancers by sharing their enthusiasm for hip-hop dance theatre.
Ethereal Abandonment (7 PM, May 13, Ebenezer Lutheran Church) is the newest dance theatre project by Ellyzabeth Adler and Lucy Vurusic Riner. After 18 years as professional colleagues and friends, Adler and Riner joined executive director forces to collaborate on an evening length dance theatre work combining members from both Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble and RE|dance group. Set in a theater that once was an epicenter of life, art and community, Ethereal Abandonment with a blended cast of 12 actors and dancers explores the historical connections between the ethereal world that once was and the reality of what it has become. Through storytelling and physical memories, the people and stories of the theater in the ethereal world make themselves known to modern day explorers, who sense their hidden vignette stories. Adler and Riner are teaming up with Bread and Roses Productions for Lighting Design and Jacob Fisher on Sound Design to create a set, lighting plot and sound score to trigger audience members senses and draw them into an ethereal experience. With original music written by Isaura Flores, inspired by the photography, The Music Remains, is a testament to the theater building and the art that it once held. Ethereal Abandonment was first inspired by photographs published in a picture book by Candace Casey with stories by Ellyzabeth Adler. Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble’s Auditorium will be transformed each night into the abandoned theater with a lively preshow gallery of Candace Casey’s Photography and Visual Art.
STOMPING GROUNDS is a free two-month citywide celebration of authentic, rhythmic dance companies from a variety of world cultures, including American tap, Spanish, Mexican, African, Chinese, and Irish dance. The series culminates with the grand finale at the Studebaker Theater on Friday, June 2. The series visits Chicago's Southwest side on Saturday, May 13 at the Beverly Arts Center. This event will feature Muntu Dance Theatre alongside Trinity Irish Dance Company and Mexican Folkloric Dance Company of Chicago, and like all STOMPING GROUNDS events, is completely free and open to the public. Advanced registration is required. Each STOMPING GROUNDS event, known as a "Performalogue," features the performers and Artistic Directors of selected companies, in a narrated performance and Q&A with the audience.
"Change the Story” (7 PM, May 18-19, Hamlin Park Fieldhouse theater) is a dance theatre concert created, produced and performed by Amanda Blair MacDonald and Sara Yanney. In Part 1: “Girl Messages” and Part 2: "When I Grow Up" we explore the kinds of messages we received and internalized as children, and how changing the story changes our experience in the world. Amanda is a multi-tasking performer, educator, mother, wife and grad student. This project is guided by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Department of Dance Faculty in partial fulfillment of work towards an MFA in Dance. Sara is also a master multi-tasker who dances, choreographs, teaches, and has just completed both an MFA and a GL-CMA and is currently pursuing a teacher certification in Alexander Technique.
Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg (7:30 PM, May 19, Auditorium Theatre) presents Red Giselle, inspired by the story of Olga Spessivtseva, a famous Russian ballerina who portrayed Giselle in the original ballet many times. The story, which begins in revolutionary Petrograd, follows “the Ballerina” as she is introduced to the world of the Russian revolutionaries and caught between her art and the power of the Communists, who want to use artists as instruments for spreading their red ideology. The Ballerina flees to Paris and reprises her role of Giselle in the famous story ballet while also dealing with unrequited love, mental illness, and ghosts from her past. Boris Eifman’s extraordinary, expressive choreography and inexhaustible imagination paired with opulent sets and costumes bring this tragic tale to life.
Take a magical leap down the rabbit hole with Salt Creek Ballet’s Alice in Wonderland (3 PM, May 20 and 1 PM, May 21, McAninch Arts Center, College of DuPage). Filled with tea parties, colorful characters and superb dancing, this fantastically conceived dance performance is a perennial audience favorite – perfect for young and old alike.
Nomi closes out its tenth anniversary season with a performance like no other! (May 20, Athenaeum Theatre). The company welcomes back Chicago choreographer Joshua Blake Carter of Giordano Dance Chicago to create for the first time an evening length work celebrating Nomi’s 10-year milestone! Look forward to past season favorites like the critically acclaimed "Fyrsta Decad" by Artistic Director Laura Kariotis and the dynamic and exciting work "Percussive" by principal dancer Amanda Hickey. Join us for this compelling and action-packed show, and help Nomi celebrate 10 great seasons!
DanceWorks Chicago is excited to partner with the Lou Conte Dance Studio on DanceChance (7 PM, May 26, Lou Conte Dance 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. Inspired by the concept of open-mic night, DanceChance is held once a month and features 3 choreographers chosen by chance, each of whom has a 15-minute time slot to share their work. To round out the hour, the final 15-minute segment is a moderated meet-the-artist session providing an opportunity for choreographers to discuss their work and process as well as time for the audience to ask questions. At the end of each DanceChance, the next
Audible Odyssey presents “Persist: Tap Dance made By Women” (8 PM, May 26-27, Stage 773). In an art form where women have played second fiddle to men time and again for decades (and in light of a recent surge in women’s movements of all kinds) PERSIST celebrates the unique, varied, artistic voices of six female choreographers including world premiere works by Kristi Burris, Megan Davis, and Patti Vickerman alongside returning audience favorites including Star Dixon’s critically acclaimed Ultralight Beam. From driving, pulsating rhythms to delicate, hopeful gestures, PERSIST promises to be another stunning example of Chicago tap dance excellence.
Chicago Dance Crash presents “KTF May 27: A Night of Villains” (10:30 PM, May 27, Stage 773). Chicago’s most famous audience-voted pro dance battle returns after a yearlong hiatus to a new venue, new drink specials, and a setup that is right up in your face. This May’s theme celebrates the wonder & joy that comes from villains… be it from comic books, movies, or real life. CDC’s longest running production 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 assembled for battle on the Stage 773 Pro stage. Combining the drive of competition with the energy of a rock concert, Chicago’s ONLY full-scale, long-running dance competition welcomes all comers, from breakers and ballerinas to belly dancers and tappers. YOU decide who wins the golden KTF title belt! And of course the night will be hosted by the one and only Mr. Mattrick Swayze!
For details and tickets, go to seechicagodance.com, and click on "Upcoming Events."