Punxsutawney Phil says spring is on its way—so does our dance calendar

It’s my job to watch dance. How cool is that? I wish I could see everything. I wish I could clone myself. I wish we had a bigger budget. I wish it didn’t take 90+ minutes to go 10 miles in this city I love. Until more money, clones or more efficient transit options are a thing, our wonderful SCD writers and I simply have to do our best. We rely on working artists and the See Chicago Dance fans and readers—those who engage with our organization for no other reason than that they love dance—to fill in gaps, to bring our attention to which shows and venues are missing, and to introduce us to artists who could benefit from what See Chicago Dance does, whether that be artist services, collegiality and community, a rentable dance floor or a critical response. We hope you'll introduce us to them, too.

In the interest of transparency, I thought I’d take up a little bit of this month’s column to remind the SCD network that everyone is welcome in this digital space. The more the merrier. You don’t have to be a SCD member, you don’t have to do a certain style of dance or live in certain neighborhoods. If you tell us where dance happens, we will make an effort to go there.

If you or someone you know has doubts or questions about any of that, email me: editor@seechicagodance.com

In the past few years, February has turned into a surprisingly sweet font of dance offerings, and 2020 is no exception. Here are a few of the things I’m excited about this month:

This weekend, The Cambrians offer their latest dance mash-ups in Chicago Dances 2020. It’s the most local, most diverse lineup of choreographers so far—including Ayako Kato, Erin Kilmurray, Daniel Gibson and more—who donate “source material” to a big dance blender to see what new flavors come out. You can read more about Chicago Dances 2020, taking place Feb. 6-9 in Uptown at the Preston Bradley Center, in Lynn Colburn Shapiro’s preview, here.

“The Times Are Racing” is Joffrey’s mixed-rep program this season, including Justin Peck’s hit dance of the same name. The Joffrey Ballet will be the first company to perform this “sneaker ballet,” after the 2017 premiere by New York City Ballet, where Peck is choreographer in residence (and part of a new four-person leadership team instated after Peter Martins’ departure). Gleaning from the divisive political climate in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, “The Times Are Racing” is, by-far, the edgiest work we’ve seen from Peck in this town, and one that, no-doubt, the Joffrey dancers will command. The program also contains two older pieces by Itzik Galili, who, somehow, has never shown work in Chicago. Plus Christopher Wheeldon’s “Commedia” and “Bliss!,” a commission by Joffrey with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra last season, return, the latter showcasing local choreographer (and former River North Dance Chicago dancer) Stephanie Martinez. The program runs Feb. 12-23 at the Auditorium Theatre (hot deals are available).

Poonie’s Cabaret was resuscitated last June, as part of that all-go-no-quit season celebrating Links Hall’s 40th anniversary. Fortunately for us, it wasn’t a fluke, and Ken Gasch and Chris McCray, with their production company Vertical Sideshow, have committed to keeping this beloved, quirky cabaret going. The line-up of artists on Feb. 17 hasn’t been released yet, but with these contemporary burlesque impresarios in charge, you can bet it’ll be a good way to spend a Monday night.

You’ve got two great options Feb. 21 and 22, and only two days to see them both. The second of two local companies presented at the Dance Center this season is Same Planet Performance Project, with new work by director Joanna Read. Ivy Baldwin, a staple in New York’s downtown dance scene, sets her work “Ammonite” on the company, the first commission for this group in awhile. Loosely umbrellaed by themes related to nature, foliage, and metaphors thereof, SPPP’s work lately has been sepulchral and obscure, but is usually beautiful, and almost always satisfying. On the other end of the loop, the Harris Theater presents Flip Fabrique, a Quebecois contemporary circus troupe with all the quality of Cirque du Soleil in a more intimate setting, and at a fraction of the price.

Project Bound Dance’s “Notified” was one of my favorite things last year. Seeing them with new work by dancemaker Emma Draves sounds almost too good to be true. In “The Nearest Place,” a more casual rep concert Feb. 28-March 1 at Links Hall, each will contribute cozy duets and small group works paying homage to the warm fuzzies of the wintertime. (A disclosure: Emily Loar, co-director of Project Bound Dance, is a freelance production assistant for See Chicago Dance.)

The Trinity Irish Dance Company will have no problem selling out two concerts at the Auditorium Theatre Feb. 29, with a baked in audience craving founding director Mark Howard’s classic works like “Johnny” and “Push.” Warning: bad joke ahead. But even after 40 years, Howard continues to push Irish dance to new places. Honestly, though: choreographer Sean Curran has been working with bharatanatyam guru Hema Rajagopalan on “Goddess,” a piece which mines rhythmic similarities between Indian and Irish dance. And a world premiere, “American Traffic,” commissioned by the Auditorium, pairs Melinda Sullivan with Macarthur “Genius” Michelle Dorrance on an Irish/tap fusion. (Hot deals available here.)

Browse some more February dance events below: