Chicago audiences can give thanks the whole month of November for the bountiful dance feast from companies and choreographers near and far. Enjoy a cornucopia of traditional ballet, jazz, culturally specific dance, contemporary and interdisciplinary performance art in both small and large venues throughout the city and suburbs.
HEDWIG DANCE (7:30 PM, November 1-3, The Dance Center, Columbia College) premieres Futura in an eye-popping spectacle of bold geometry, rich theatrical movement, and a rousing musical score. Inspired by Bauhaus modernist art, Hedwig founder Jan Bartoszek’s newest work is a vibrant and colorful exploration of how dance shapes and is shaped by society, art, architecture, and design in the 21st century. A collaborative multidisciplinary work underscored by themes of confinement and freedom, this piece includes an opening movement designed in a groundbreaking collaboration between Hedwig Dances, Bauhaus Dessau, the IIT Institute of Design (established as the New Bauhaus 80 years ago) and Leviathan.
LUCKY PLUSH: THE BETTER HALF and RINK LIFE (November 2-17, 8 PM, Steppenwolf 1700 Theater). The Better Half brings a dance-theater spin to the noir thriller “Gaslight,” departing from its source text to bring a contemporary relevance to relatable themes of claustrophobia, escapist tendencies, and resilience in domestic relationships. The Better Half is co-created by Lucky Plush’s Artistic Director Julia Rhoads and Collaborating Director Leslie Danzig. In Rink Life, Lucky Plush showcases its highly-integrated brand of dance theater into a communal space that nods to the visual aesthetics and social dynamics of 1970’s roller rink culture. Launching from a collision of plot points in several one-act plays, the script-turned-libretto is both spoken and sung by the ensemble, and builds upon fragments of everyday aural input—passing conversations, intimate exchanges, distant whispers, pop song ear-worms. These source inspirations come together in the delightful and moving world of Rink Life, where people navigate relationships, self-expression, and rejection in real-time.
MIAMI CITY BALLET returns to the Harris Theater stage (7:30 PM November 8-9 ) with the Chicago premiere of inaugural Harris Theater Choreographer-In-Residence Brian Brooks’ “One Line Drawn.” Developed with MCB as part of his three-year Harris fellowship, “One Line Drawn” premiered in South Florida last February with a commissioned score by Michael Gordon, American composer and co-founder of Bang on a Can.
Working on “One Line Drawn” pulled both Brooks and MCB dancers out of their comfort zones. Brooks had never before choreographed for ballerinas en pointe, and his modern dance vocabulary and movement style were largely foreign to most of the classically-trained MCB dancers when he began developing his new piece with them in August, 2017.
“It’s a great match,” Brian Brooks said in an interview with SeeChicagoDance last February, anticipating the Miami premiere of the piece, co-produced by Chicago’s Harris Theater for Music and Dance. “I’m such a foreign visitor to ballet. It’s amazing,” he reflected. “We take these journeys to get the rug pulled out from under, and then feel “home.”
“One Line Drawn” opens with the dancers, costumed in Karen Young’s simply elegant unisex silver tunics and trunks, converging in a single-file line bisecting the stage, and then peeling off. Liquid mercury is the image that immediately comes to mind, with rapid-fire whole-body dips and weaves, arms sculling space as if navigating paths through viscous waters.
The Harris residency, supported by the Jay Franke and David Herro Choreographer in Residence Fund, provides the named choreographer with financial support over a three year period to create new work each year, in addition to providing educational outreach in the community.During his first year of the residency, Brooks created “Terrain” for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and “Thunder” for the advanced dance students of Chicago Academy for the Arts. The second year brought the premiere of “Prelude,” set on his New York-based Brian Brooks Dance Company, to performances at the Harris. Year three brings “One Line Drawn” to Chicago audiences, as well as new surprises in store, coming later in the season.
The mixed rep program also includes works by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins/Twyla Tharp. Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco (1941), set to Concerto in D minor for Two Violins by Bach, had its beginnings as a School of American Ballet exercise and was first performed for the Latin American tour of the American Ballet Caravan in 1941. When it entered the repertory of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1945, the dancers were dressed in practice clothes, probably the first appearance of what has come to be regarded as the modern ballet costume pioneered by Balanchine. Concerto Barocco was presented on the first performance of New York City Ballet in 1948, along with Balanchine’s Orpheus and Symphony in C. It is considered the quintessential Balanchine ballet of its period, its manner entirely pure, its choreography no more, and no less, than an ideal response to its score, Bach’s Double Violin Concerto in D Minor. About the ballet, the critic Clive Barnes wrote, “The three hallmarks of the American classic style are poetry, athleticism, and musicality, and these three graces are exquisitely exploited by Concerto Barocco.” Brahms/Handel (1984), choreographed by modern masters Twyla Tharp and Jerome Robbins, with costumes by Oscar de la Renta and lighting by Jennifer Tipton, draws from the powerful romantic music of Johannes Brahms’ Handel variations, Op. 24.
A-SQUARED ASIAN AMERICAN PERFORMING ARTS FESTIVAL (7:30 PM, November 8-10, Links Hall) Co-presented by A-Squared Theatre, Asian Improv Arts Midwest and Links Hall, the A-Squared Asian American Performing Arts Festival 2018 features three evenings of the art of contemporary performance by American artists descended from the Asian diaspora, including contemporary and traditioanl dance, improv/sketch comedy, jazz, performance art, and theatre. Plus, the annual sight/sound/taste installation, "Borders"-- a pop-up dining experience featuring a delectable fusion of Southeast Asian cuisines. Festival curated by Hope Kim and Cary Shoda. "Borders" sight/sound and taste installation curated by Giau Truong. The Festival is a featured presentation of Links Hall's 40th Anniversary Season.
"After Tang Chang" by Irene Hsiao (Thurs/Sat) explores ethnically Chinese, nationally Thai poet and painter Tang Chang, who distilled writing to its emotional and physical impulses, ritualistically copying over words until they formed landscapes and geometric forms, stripping calligraphy down to the abstract trace of the body on canvas. Dancer Irene Hsiao takes the energetic impulses he leaves behind in his work and reads them as a score for movement, embodying these traces in our space and time, considering questions such as, what is the difference between writing and painting? When does the mark erase? How Chinese is this work? What does it mean to write, again and again, “person"?
In "a glimpse of me, my mom,” (Thurs/Sat) Helen Lee unpacks family history and investigates home, identity, memory, travel, migration, immigration, displacement, belonging, guilt, shame and what it means to be American through performance, storytelling, video, animation and installation.
"Transformations" and "Conversations" by Natya Dance Theatre (Fri)
The two dance works, rooted in Bharata Natyam classical Indian technique, describe the six incarnations or transformations of the god, Vishnu.
(For further Festival events and details, go to SeeChicagoDance.com and click on “See Dance”/Calendar.)
Opening the Auditorium Theatre’s MADE IN CHICAGO series (7:30 PM, November 16, Auditorium Theatre) are three inventive and ground-breaking dance companies! The renowned Ate9 Dance Company makes its Auditorium Theatre debut, alongside Chicago-based percussionist and composer Glenn Kotche from Wilco, with the Chicago premiere of the collaborative work “calling glenn.” Visceral Dance Chicago returns to the Auditorium stage with its bold, progressive style, and Deeply Rooted Dance Theater presents its signature combination of ballet, modern, and African contemporary dance.
ADDITIONAL NOVEMBER EVENTS:
TANGO 21 DANCE THEATER’s fourth original production, “SOMBRAS TANGO CABARET” (7:30 PM, November 1-2, Logan Square Theater) presents a tango musical, complete with dance, live music, and theatre. Join Fantastik Frank and friends at the Sombras tango cabaret, where secrets and fantasies rule the night. When an unexpected guest shows up, Frank must decide how to face his past and come to terms with his own shadows.
VISCERAL DANCE CHICAGO launches its sixth season with “TAKE” (8 PM, November 1-10, Visceral Studio, 2820 N. Elston), a new perspective on their annual Fall Engagement. This season Artistic Director, Nick Pupillo, continues to explore his vision of bridging the gap between dancer and the audience by changing the perspective in which dance can be viewed. In TAKE Pupillo challenges relationships through dance by connecting dancer to dancer, dancer to audience, and dancer to self, evolving into a new sense of community. During the evening Visceral will “take” you on a journey and at the same time asks you what you will “take” from the experience.
The highly acclaimed Ballet Chicago Studio Company (November 2nd at 6pm and November 3rd at 5pm in the Dowd Studio at Ballet Chicago) performs a series of four new works by rising young choreographers to live piano music, as well as other ballets and spectacular excerpts from Ballet Chicago’s “Nutcracker". (Additional performances at the Chicago Cultural Center on November 1st at 10am and 12pm.)
QUERIDA (7 PM, November 2-3-4, Links Hall) is an exploratory conversation about the many facets of sexuality and expression revolving around the taboo. Created & performed by Darling Squire.
Ishmael Houston-Jones, Ralph Lemon, and Bebe Miller in "RELATIONS," performing together for the first time as a trio for two one-of-a-kind improvised performances (7:30 PM, November 2-3, Museum of Contemporary Art). Legendary shapers of experimental dance—with over 10 Bessie Awards between them—they pay homage to their past selves, gesture to the future of dance they have inspired, and testify to their present-tense artistry. These longtime peers, friends, and icons have not shared a stage since the early 1980s, when Houston-Jones organized a series of solo and duet performances highlighting the then-under-discussed intersection of black choreographers making “non-mainstream dance.” After nearly 40 years of influencing each other from afar throughout their prolific careers, the kinship between Houston-Jones, Lemon, and Miller unfolds in real time on the MCA Stage in two bare-bones improvisations that bring together each artist’s living, embodied archives and their individual relationships to performing and making dance.
WINIFRED HAUN & DANCERS premieres “I am (not) this body” (7:30 PM, November 3, Studebaker Theater). The new work is a collaboration between Artistic Director, Winifred Haun and Assistant Artistic Director, Solomon Bowser. “I am (not) this body” will explore how we view “different” bodies (the bodies of women, children and people of color), and how those bodies and the humans inside them seem to be invisible or to have less value.This engagement will also include “Bento,” a work from 2011 that takes its inspiration and choreography from the works of other artists (with their permission), and “Don’t Linger Too Long” (2013), which explores the isolating effects and importance of being with family.
MOMENTA presents DANCE LEGACIES” (November 3-10, Doris Humphrey Theatre, 605 Lake Street, Oak Park; go to “Calendar” for various times). Momenta is the only dance company where you can see classical ballet, historical modern, contemporary, and physically integrated dance all in one concert. This fall’s evening concerts feature historical works by Jean Coralli/Jules Perrot, Isadora Duncan, Doris Humphrey and Arthur Saint Leon, physically physically integrated dance works by Anita Fillmore Kenney, Ginger Lane, Jessica Martin, Sarah Najera; and a contemporary world premiere by Sarita Smith Childs.
EKLI MUNDA/What Lies Within (7:30 PM, November 8-10, The Dance Center, Columbia College) Chicago choreographer Vershawn Sanders-Ward met Uganda-based Jonas Byaruhanga in 2007 and the two artists have been in dialogue ever since. EKILI MUNDA | What Lies Within positions the body as a physical, spiritual, and social archive of cultural history that subconsciously informs personal identity. Created as part of the TransAtlantic Project, a long-term cultural exchange between Red Clay Dance Company and Keiga Dance Company, EKILI MUNDA | What Lies Within is a visceral engagement with the African Diaspora.
BALLET FOLKLORICO DE MEXICO DE AMALIA HERNANDEZ (7:30 PM, NOVEMBER 10-11, AUDITORIUM THEATRE). Recognized internationally for its presentations of traditional Mexican dance, this world-famous company returns to Chicago with a show the whole family can enjoy! The company honors México’s rich cultural history with high-energy audience favorites like Charreada, also known as the “rope dance,” and Deer Dance, inspired by the hunting rites of the Yaqui people, as well as updated choreography for the piece Fiesta en Jalisco and more.
MORDINE AND COMPANY (7 PM, November 16-17, Indian Boundary Park) presents a sneak preview of its 50th anniversary season, with 50 years of process, creation and collaboration. Get a glimpse into their work in progress as they begin our Golden Anniversary season. They will be presenting legacy repertoire pieces along side current works.
In WAITLISTED, An Evening of New Choreography (7 PM, November 16-17, Dovetail Studios), movement artists Lydia Feuerhelm, Chloe Grace Michels, and Andy Slavin come together to present a 2-night choreographic debut centered around identity: how we describe ourselves, the inherently symbiotic relationship between self and community, and the images we hold of ourselves and our physical body.
THE SELDOMS reprise their dance theater work, “RockCitizen" (8 PM, November 16-17, Studio 5) in this new, intimate Evanston venue. "RockCitizen" creates an immersive sonic, visual and kinetic environment that recalls counter cultural spaces of the 1960s and connects them to a larger history of people pursuing breakthroughs and transformations in their lives and worlds. RockCitizen looks at social movements of the 1960s and 70s that rode waves of protest, experimentation, hedonism and dissonance in efforts to remake what it means to be an individual and a community, a citizen, and part of – or sometimes outside, or sometimes even outright against – a civic body. The figures in RockCitizen call — and agitate — for freedom; to be, to express, to work, to love.
VIDEO CORPO FESTIVAL brings three presenters of experimental performance art to collaborate in three Chicago neighborhoods in a festival of video work celebrating movement-based artists who have used video as an extension of their practice and/or as an alternative corporeal perspective (Nov. 16–Dec. 7 at Defibrillator Gallery, 1029 W. 35th Street; Nov. 17–Dec. 7 at Zephyr’s space SITE/less, 1250 W. Augusta Boulevard; and Nov. 30 at Chicago Filmmakers, 5720 N. Ridge Avenue in a program presented by Pivot Arts). Curated by the directors of the three presenters—Michelle Kranicke (Zephyr and SITE/less in Noble Square), Joseph Ravens (Defibrillator Gallery in Bridgeport), and Julieanne Ehre (Pivot Arts in Edgewater)—Video Corpo focuses on broadening the audience for experimental time-based artists by creating a platform for viewing their work beyond traditional live performance. Defibrillator opens Video Corpo November 16 at 7 p.m. with video installations by Marianne M. Kim, a Korean-American interdisciplinary artist working in screendance, multimedia installation, choreography, and performance art, and Daniele Wilmouth, who creates hybrid forms of film, video, installation, and live art.
VIDEO CORPO’s second opening event takes place November 17 at 7 p.m. at SITE/less with the premiere of Zephyr’s The Wall Dance—Film Version (working title), an excerpt of Kranicke’s 2012 durational work Allowances and Occurrences re-envisioned for the camera. Though Kranicke originally designed the work as an installation piece for performance at a gallery, allowing the audience to move about the space and choose their viewpoint, Zephyr re-lit the work and filmed it at SITE/less from multiple perspectives and proximities to more fully emphasize the deep, dramatic spatial qualities of tableaux reminiscent of Renaissance or Baroque master painting. SITE/less also is presenting Short Silent Films by Meredith Monk and Nadia Oussenko’s On Falling. Pivot Arts presents a one-night-only event November 30 at Chicago Filmmakers that combines film presentations and a panel discussion.
THE SALT CREEK BALLET’S “NUTCRACKER” (1 PM and 5 PM, November 24; 1 PM, November 25, Hinsdale Central Auditorium) is a traditional holiday classic for young and old alike. Meet the young Clara and her hero, the Nutcracker, as you are transported on a magical journey, encountering toys that come alive, dancing snowflakes, waltzing flowers, and the Sugar Plum Fairy along the way. An enchanting holiday tradition, this year's production of "The Nutcracker" features the 48-piece Chicago West Chamber Orchestra. Sunday's performance also includes special admission to the "Sugar Plum Party" where audience members can meet characters from "The Nutcracker," step onto the stage, and enjoy refreshments in an enchanted, winter wonderland.
THE JOEL HALL DANCERS’ critically acclaimed “Nuts & Bolts” dance extravaganza (3 PM, 7:30 PM, November 25, Joel Hall Dancers and Center) reimagines the Nutcracker, hopping cultures and genres while fusing classic Tchaikovsky with Duke Ellington and house music.
Join past CHICAGO DANCEMAKERS FORUM Lab Artists in the MCA Commons (6 PM, November 27, Museum of Contemporary Art) in live, artist-to-artist exchanges of movement, ideas, and process. These choreographers of different backgrounds and art-making practices grapple with questions that impact them each in distinct ways through embodied conversations with each other and the public.
On November 27th at 6:00 PM, Jamal “Litebulb” Oliver of The Era Footwork Crew (2015 Lab Artist), Molly Shanahan of Mad Shak (2006 Lab Artist), and Meida McNeal of Honey Pot Performance (2010 Lab Artist) address how they mine the cultural histories, embodied and genetic memory, and lived experience that surface in their dancing bodies. On December 4th at 6:00 PM, Carrie Hanson of The Seldoms (2005 Lab Artist) and Adam Rose of Antibody Corporation (2014 Lab Artist) address how they use dance to contend with the spaces and places where they perform, and to encounter the audience within them.
In Progress is a new MCA series of public programs that gives visitors a glimpse into the working practices of artists. It highlights Chicago artists with a focus on live art happenings, discussions, workshops, and screenings that expose the behind-the-scenes labor of art making.
VOLLEDIG: EMPTIED OF SHAME, FULL OF LIFE (7 PM, November 29-30, Links Hall) creator/producer Rob Welcher explains: "I now know that I still carry anger, pain, sorrow, and despair deep within me for having survived the AIDS Crisis. I am finding that working through these emotions is shaping the artist I am becoming today. And I was compelled to seek out other artists who have lived through this as well, or who are now living with HIV, to explore and tell our collective stories – and to tell the stories of those we knew, who didn’t survive. With the assembled artists, I lead us through a journey of re-exploration and re-discovery of histories, memories, buried emotions, and even old wounds. In our process, we bore witness to each other and mined our collective experience for material with which we create this performance that will allow the audience to go on the journey with us from those dark, exposed, vulnerable places to the light of the lives we lead today – emptied of shame and full of life. While HIV and AIDS no longer demand the headlines of the past, people are still contracting HIV every day. While being HIV positive has become a manageable condition rather than the certain death sentence it was at the height of the AIDS Crisis, people are still dying. While there are many living openly with HIV, there is still stigma, shame, and fear associated with being positive. Some members of this project are HIV-negative; some are HIV-positive; some have received an AIDS diagnosis. All project members have been altered by the AIDS Crisis; all have seen friends suffer; all have seen friends die. We refuse to let what has transpired be unspoken and forgotten. We refuse to let the world sit comfortably and look away from the tragedy that we have endured and that continues to unfold around us.” Volledig is performed by Paul Hamilton, Joseph Hutto, Ted Sollinger, and Welcher.
For Tickets and Details, go to SeeChicagoDance.com, and click on “See Dance.”