Chicago premieres

Making Visible: An interview with Okwui Okpokwasili

By on April 6, 2018

NEW YORK / CHICAGO — I saw Okwui Okpokwasili’s piece Poor People’s TV Room when it premiered at New York Lives Arts last spring and was struck by its richly layered and complex rendering of the lives of four black women. Weaving dance, song, text, video, and stage design, this work draws from African and American contexts […]

Music and musings are just ‘Some of a Thousand Words’

By on February 26, 2017

CHICAGO — A one-nighter last Saturday marked the second of NYC-based Brian Brooks’ Chicago engagements during his tenure as the inaugural choreographer in residence at the Harris Theater, and his second collaboration with retired New York City Ballet super star Wendy Whelan. Whelan and Brooks each had their own solos to diversify the night’s gaggle of […]

An audience-centered ‘choose your own adventure’ with Zephyr

By on October 19, 2016

CHICAGO — Nearly a year after the Amid Festival, a magical gathering of performing artists grappling with aging bodies, festival curator and Zephyr Dance artistic director Michelle Kranicke presents her latest project Oct. 20-23 at Defibrillator Gallery. Valise 13 originally rose from a curiosity about travel. In selecting the French word for suitcase as her title, Kranicke […]

Choreographer Alex Sanchez makes his Goodman debut in ‘Wonderful Town’

By on September 20, 2016

CHICAGO — One of Dance Magazine’s 2015 “25 to watch,” choreographer Alex Sanchez makes his Goodman Theatre debut with Leonard Bernstein’s Wonderful Town. The Chicago native trained at Ruth Page Center for the Arts and performed four seasons with Ballet Chicago in the late 80s and early 90s under artistic director Daniel Duell. His 40-week […]

JUBA! Surprises and Delights (review)

By on July 28, 2016

CHICAGO — Last weekend’s JUBA! puts a cap on the 26th annual Rhythm World: Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP)’s month-long tap festival including classes, workshops and performances. For more than half of its 26 years, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) has been the site of this culminating event, bringing some of the best and […]

Robyn Mineko Williams goes UNDER(cover) at Links

By on May 25, 2016

CHICAGO — Robyn Mineko Williams, fast becoming one of the most recognizable names in Chicago dance, premieres a new episode of UNDER(cover) this weekend at Links Hall. On the heels of last fall’s Mariko’s Magical Mix, a fantastical collaboration with Manual Cinema set on Hubbard Street 2, the original UNDER(cover) began as an independent work last summer at […]

Urban Bush Women Celebrate Coltrane, Embody Jazz (review)

By on February 22, 2016

CHICAGO — Jazz music and contemporary dance: misunderstood genres which often operate ahead of their time. It isn’t until years, or even decades later that audiences accept and begin to appreciate art forms that look and sound strange at first. Such was the case with John Coltrane (1926-1967), a legendary saxophonist and composer who quite literally […]

Choreographer Ashley Page Premieres Joffrey Work in ‘Bold Moves’

By on December 23, 2015

CHICAGO — After nearly three decades dancing and choreographing with the Royal Ballet in his native London, and another in Glasgow as the director of the Scottish Ballet, award-winning choreographer Ashley Page struck out on his own as a freelancer. After leaving the Scottish Ballet in 2012, Page now travels the globe creating contemporary ballets […]

Jessica Lang Makes Magic at the Harris (review)

By on November 9, 2015

Shades of black and white were a recurrent theme on stage for Jessica Lang Dance’s one-night-only program at the Harris Theater last Friday. The audience, however, was all pastels, totally enamored  with Jessica Lang during a monumental weekend for Chicago dance that featured a coincidental line-up of influential women choreographers at venues across the city. Opening […]

TSMP Celebrates 10 years in Millennium Park

By on November 5, 2015

My sophomore year of college, I took an interdisciplinary seminar in ecology and economics.  We discussed how Midwestern prairie lands have changed over time, and the impact of economic development on our natural landscapes. We visited Prairie Crossing – a weird amalgamation of suburbia, farmland and natural prairie, mostly owned by Waste Management. As The Space/Movement […]

Joffrey’s ‘Sylvia’ breaks from tradition, just like it used to (Review)

By on October 18, 2015

Following a highly successful pre-season weekend last month featuring up-and-coming choreographers, the official opening night of the Joffrey Ballet’s 60th anniversary season threw many of ballet’s conventions out the window. Entering the theater, we were greeted by an open main curtain and three dancers already onstage. We wanted to clap for the orchestra conductor (Chicago […]

Esoteric Celebrates 5 Years with Juxtaposition (review)

By on June 10, 2015

A small but supportive audience fell on Links Hall’s white space for the opening night of Esoteric Dance Project’s Juxtaposition. EDP offered two works choreographed by husband/wife Artistic Directors Christopher Tucker and Brenna Pierson-Tucker. Tucker’s Orchestrated Homage in Five Movements and Pierson-Tucker’s Public Privacy were put together to illustrate disparate themes, and though many details are, indeed, quite […]

Innervation Dance Cooperative’s ‘Tuned In’ is a bit out of tune (review)

By on June 8, 2015

At the top of the show, Innervation Dance Cooperative (IDC) founder Michael Sherman bounced up on stage for his pre-show speech and joyfully said, “Enjoy yourself and have a good time!” Spirits were high despite a relatively small audience in the Pro Theater at Stage 773, and IDC managed to carry a full two hours […]

The “Carpenter COLEctive” is greater than the sum of its parts (review)

By on May 11, 2015

Margi Cole and Peter Carpenter have been courting for awhile (artistically, that is). Cole has joined Carpenter as a dancer for the last few installments of his serial dance called Rituals of Abundance for Lean Times, a project that began in 2010 at New Trier High School as a response to the economic state of […]

Review: ‘Neel’ is the stuff of dreams and nightmares

By on April 22, 2015

CHICAGO — The fascinating thing about dreams is how vivid they are when they’re happening, and how quickly they fade from memory. Almost as soon as you wake up, the details blur and the dream becomes a wash of feelings and experiences. Such was the case for Neel: Blutopias of Radical Dreaming,  Minneapolis-based Ananya Dance […]

Review: Loosen Up, LinkUP (or maybe don’t)…

By on March 30, 2015

CHICAGO — Walking into Studio A at Links Hall on Saturday night, the room seemed not quite ready. An orange A-frame ladder remained out near the upstage wall, extension cords strewn about, while a man and a woman in identical outfits played heads or tails with a somewhat awkward nonchalance. There’s a lot to look […]

An exclusive peek at RivNo’s world premiere “the frost that binds”

By on March 25, 2015

This Saturday, March 28 River North Dance Chicago (RNDC) will be presenting two world premiere performances as part of the closing performance of the company’s 25th anniversary season. On the bill is Adam Barruch’s “the frost that binds,” and if Barruch’s name sounds familiar, don’t be alarmed. RNDC has employed Barruch on two previous occasions: once for a world premiere called “I […]

‘Sweater Weather’ Defies the Stereotype (review)

By on February 28, 2015

With every class that graduates from the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago comes a gaggle of tiny new dance companies, followed by an equal number of Kickstarter campaigns, and enthusiastic audiences largely made up of… each other. But every once in awhile, one or two of the “little guys” sticks around more than a […]

Crash captures ‘all the feels’ for its DC debut (review)

By on February 22, 2015

Chicago Dance Crash (CDC) kicked off its 13th season with an ambitious rep program for the group’s debut performance at the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago (DC) this weekend. This interdisciplinary group of dancerly misfits shouldn’t look good together, but somehow they accomplish a cohesion and polish that many other companies of their size […]

Dancers Tong and Hortin dish on HSDC’s Winter Series, Victor Quijada, and not the Nutcracker

By on December 2, 2014

An abundance of choreographic royalty appears onstage at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) this weekend and next as Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (HSDC)* presents its Winter Series featuring Princess Grace Awardees Kyle Abraham, Robyn Mineko Williams, and Victor Quijada. Abraham’s Counterpoint is on the program (after last summer’s premiere as a commission of the Chicago Dancing […]

Khecari’s ‘Oubliette’ will soon be gone, but not forgotten

By on November 23, 2014

The feeling one gets entering Khecari’s latest performance environment must be how Mary Lennox felt when she first encountered the soggy and dead secret garden on the moor. The plants surrounding the barn at Indian Boundary Park are wilted and decaying; there’s a mysterious beauty to the garden that glows under strings of twinkle lights hanging in […]

A New Lens for Dance: Pros and Cons of Live Streaming Performance

By on October 28, 2014

Dance for the camera is nothing new, but with idevices, YouTube, and the Internet literally everywhere, broadcasting dance to living room sofas is easier than ever. Chicago companies large and small are trying it out, in different iterations, and for slightly different reasons. The common goal, however, is to access and engage with new audience […]

Zephyr Dance pushes its limits, and ours, too (review)

By on September 28, 2014

Zephyr Dance is one of those companies that sometimes escapes my radar, particularly since the departure of Emily Stein a couple years ago. To be honest, I was slightly worried about what was going to happen to Zephyr and Artistic Director Michelle Kranicke when Stein split from the company couple years ago. To be really honest, […]

Soham Dance Project is born (review)

By on September 22, 2014

I spent my birthday this year with Soham Dance Space for a special Moving Dialogues during Chicago Dance Month (CDM). The theme of CDM 2014 was “Open doors, open spaces,” and the narrow studio‘s warm and welcoming feel was echoed by owner Anjal Chande’s calm and genuine presence. Chande is tiny in stature, but watching her dance, […]

BalletX opens the Dance Center’s 41st Season (review)

By on September 20, 2014

For the first time maybe ever, ballet fans were torn this weekend in deciding between the Joffrey’s season opener Stories in Motion and The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago. The Dance Center isn’t exactly a reputed venue for ballet, which makes the Chicago premiere of Philadelphia-based BalletX all the more exciting. Having previously seen […]

The Chicago Dancing Festival closes in grandiose style

By on August 25, 2014

Hours before the grand finale to the Chicago Dancing Festival in Millennium Park, a storm rolled through so big it nearly washed away the Pritzker Pavilion in its entirety. Ain’t no rain gonna get dance fans down.   The massive storm didn’t deter Chicagoans from flocking to one of Chicago’s quintessential end-of-summer soirees (for dance, anyway). […]

Duets on the menu for Friday’s CDF

By on August 21, 2014

The Chicago Dancing Festival opened last night and I’m still buzzing from the excitement. Walking past a line of hopeful dance patrons in a standby line akin to what one might see at a Sting concert, I felt a wave of gratitude rush over me. Coming to CDF reminds me of how magical it is to […]

Kyle Abraham’s ‘Counterpoint’ set to premiere at Chicago Dancing Festival

By on August 16, 2014

It’s been a fruitful summer for dance in Chicago – and I’m not just talking about PRODUCE. Tonight, Dance for Life will see two world premiere performances choreographed by Randy Duncan and Harrison McEldowney & Jeremy Plummer, and next week continues the trend. The Chicago Dancing Festival is bringing three world premieres to the bountiful […]

RE|Dance celebrates five years with ‘The Long and Forgotten Winter’

By on July 27, 2014

If you’re friends with Lucy Riner on Facebook, then you’ve heard about this show. With Riner and co-Artistic Director Michael Estanich at the helm, RE|Dance is taking an “all-in” approach in preparing for its five-year anniversary next weekend at the Ruth Page Center for the Performing Arts.  With the help of a MetLife New Stages for […]

That’s (not just) Entertainment: Dance as a tool for cultural dialogue and social change

By on July 18, 2014

In 2013, Chicago-based Deeply Rooted Dance Theater (DRDT) became the first American dance company to appear in the 15th annual JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience in Durban, South Africa. JOMBA!’s founder Lliane Loots first connected with Deeply Rooted through the tireless work of Lorna Johnson, a DRDT board member and consultant on international exchange programs. Last year’s appearance, sponsored […]

Thodos Celebrates 14 Years of New Dances

By on July 11, 2014

Meeting Thodos Dance Chicago (TDC) company member Diana Winfree in the art room at the Menomonee Club for Boys and Girls, she apologized about the noisy kids in the hallway as we settled down for a chat. “I’m pretty familiar with noisy kids,” I said. It’s hard to separate a studio visit to TDC from […]

Wading in the Waters of the River See (p/review)

By on June 21, 2014

This weekend and next, there’s something kind of huge going on at Links Hall.  Four years of work and a collaboration between Links Hall, Living Arts of Tulsa, Diaspora Vibes Cultural Arts Incubator, The Theater Offensive and the National Performance Network all lead up to the Chicago premiere of Sharon Bridgforth’s River See. Not a dance […]

Highlights to look for in 2014-15 (and tickets on the cheap)

By on June 10, 2014

Season announcements for the big venues have been trickling into my inbox, and this is actually the time to think about loading your dance calendar. Why? Tickets are cheap! Here are a few highlights you may want to consider for some #chidance next season: The Auditorium Theatre celebrates 125 years next season, and with this […]

Cross-country collaboration culminates in ‘Birdlady’

By on May 28, 2014

Vivian Maier lived in Chicago most of her life, working as a nanny, with a serious photography hobby. She captured American life in the 1950’s and 60’s, but never shared her work. Maier’s photographs were stored, (many weren’t even developed), and eventually sold when she could no longer afford the rent on the storage unit where […]

Visceral Dance Chicago joins the lot for #chidancemonth (review)

By on April 14, 2014

In a month that is veritably packed with dance, on a weekend that was equitably packed with dance, Visceral Dance Chicago (VDC) offered up a two-day program at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. This would be VDC’s first attempt at a full-length evening; the fledgling company presented a mini-show last fall debuting work […]

Giordano Dance Chicago ignites the Harris Theater (Review)

By on April 2, 2014

Ok, maybe it’s too soon for a pun about fire at the Harris, but in the last moments of the electrifying Sabroso I swear I saw smoke coming from the heels of Giordano Dance Chicago (GDC)’s dancers. In an eclectic Spring program,  older works appeared with the anticipated world premier of Autumn Eckman’s Mist. Mist […]

Hubbard + Jiří Kylián = Love (not a review)

By on March 14, 2014

The San Francisco Chronicle once named Jiří Kylián “one of the greatest choreographers of our age.” Boy, those reporters sure are smart. You know that saying that anything you could possibly do as an artist has already been done? I’m pretty sure that was Jiří Kylián, 20 years ago, doing it, and better than you. So […]

dropshift dance aims to immerse and interact, and wins (review)

By on March 2, 2014

Upon first glance, one might consider Andrea Cerniglia’s four woman troupe dropshift dance (intentionally uncapitalized) to be a spin off of Zephyr Dance. Cerniglia is a long time dancer/collaborator with Zephyr, and the influences of Michelle Kranicke (and formerly Emily Stein too) are undeniable. Yet there is something very different about this four woman company that […]

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to Chicago

By on February 25, 2014

Twenty-five years after his death, the legacy and impact of Alvin Ailey on American contemporary dance cannot be disputed. His dances are ones that never get old; watching Revelations and Pas de Duke is like seeing a page out of the history book of dance. You would think we would be tired of them by […]

Joffrey tests its boundaries in ‘Contemporary Choreographers’ (preview)

By on January 28, 2014

“Choreography is where dance makes sense to me,” says Chicago-based choreographer Brock Clawson. Amidst the polar vortex, Clawson joined the Joffrey Ballet for a few weeks to set his work Crossing Ashland on the company. Clawson has become highly regarded as a distinguished choreographer in Chicago since retiring from performing for Thodos Dance Chicago less […]

Tap star Savion Glover in a one-nighter at the Harris Theater (Preview)

By on January 20, 2014

As the premiere tapper of his generation, Tony-award winner Savion Glover brings his latest project STePz to Chicago in a one-night engagement at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance Jan. 24. Glover is one of few modern day tap dancers to break into the mainstream; with credits like Bring in ’da Noise, Bring in ’da Funk  and Happy […]

Visceral Dance Company is Born (review)

By on November 23, 2013

Thursday night saw the debut performance of Visceral Dance Chicago at the surprisingly half full Harris Theater for Music and Dance. In an short performance of three world premieres and a video montage highlighting each company member, it’s clear that Visceral Dance Chicago is here, and wants to play with the big kids. I mean, […]

Three Premieres in River North’s ‘Autumn Passions’ (review)

By on November 15, 2013

After an exhausting year that included a pilgrimage to Cuba and two brand new works, River North Dance Chicago’s Artistic Director Frank Chaves decided to take a back seat creatively in the company’s 24th season. For the 2013 Fall Engagement, RNDC recruited three new works from choreographers Ashley Roland, Adam Barruch, and Kevin Iega Jeff. All three […]

CHRP to Present Argentina’s Che Malambo in the 9th Annual Global Rhythms (preview)

By on November 5, 2013

If it’s dance and makes noise, it’s fair game to the Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP). Rising from the traditional Argentinian Gauchos, Malambo is a compelling dance form that is yet to be seen in North America – until now. Employing echoes of more familiar Argentinian forms such as the leg flicks seen in tango […]

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Fall Series Has Something for Everyone (review)

By on October 11, 2013

The season opener for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago included everything but the kitchen sink (although the stove was there…). The Harris Theater for Music and Dance is generally a fantastic venue to watch Hubbard Street perform, but I had a hard time connecting to Robyn Mineko Williams’s Fluence in such a vast place – even […]

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Spring Season Kick-off

By on March 8, 2013

  Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s spring season begins with a bang… … and his name is Alonzo King.   In a highly anticipated collaboration with Alonzo King LINES Ballet, the two companies share the stage for the first time.  Though we dancers love our collaborations, sharing a stage is not something that either company was particularly […]