world premieres

Review: Corey Smith’s “New Prairie School” examines the Midwest with humor, nonchalance

By on January 16, 2018

CHICAGO — The New Prairie School, an evening-length performance by composer, writer, and performer, Corey Smith, along with fellow performers and collaborators Ethan T. Parcell and Claire Saxe, debuted last weekend at Links Hall. As the title suggests, the work was partially inspired by research around Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School of architecture of […]

Review: Lather.Rinse.Repeat | Fall.Climb.Release.

By on January 9, 2018

CHICAGO — The vibe was phenomenally good at Links Hall last weekend for Catalyst Movmnt’s first production, Lather.Rinse.Repeat | Fall. Climb. Release. The curatorial project spearheaded by recent Columbia College alums Aaliyah Christina and Keyierra Collins, promises (according to press materials) to promote “movement artists of color who desire to establish their voice on this […]

Review: ‘The Making’ exerts power over Pulaski Park

By on November 21, 2017

CHICAGO — Last Saturday marked the final performance of The Seldoms’ world premiere of The Making, an evening-length work for the company’s seven ensemble members, three visual artists and one live musician (plus all the other designers and administrative hands on deck). The evening unfolded at the remarkable Pulaski Park field house, which has been […]

Contemporary, classical works and a holiday favorite to fill Madison Ballet’s season

By on September 5, 2017

MADISON, WI — Wisconsin’s Madison Ballet will usher in the 2017-2018 season with a variety of mixed-repertory performances and its annual production of The Nutcracker – a lineup of programming that follows in the vein of last season. Founded in 1981, the company has been under the artistic direction of W. Earle Smith since 1999. The […]

The Cambrians return with ‘Empress Archer’

By on February 18, 2017

CHICAGO — Beginning in 2013, Benjamin Wardell dreamed up a process called “The Nexus Project.” He recruited dancers Michel Rodriguez Cintra and worked with a gaggle of choreographers, who developed duets for them, only to have those duets deconstructed and put back together again in a semi-improvised, never-the-same-way-twice series of intimate performances. It worked. The two […]

Deeply Rooted’s 20th season opener highlights yin and yang (preview)

By on December 1, 2016

CHICAGO – “Time goes by quickly,” said Kevin Iega Jeff reflecting his tenure as Artistic Director of Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, “but we figure it out as we go along.” “Figuring it out” hasn’t been easy, but Jeff and co-founder Gary Abbott have remained hyper-focused and vigilant toward the company’s mission to diversify concert dance by […]

dropshift dance looks to the feminine for ‘FloatBrilliance’

By on June 14, 2016

CHICAGO — FloatBrilliance, premiering this weekend at Links Hall, is the third installment of what Artistic Director Andrea Cerniglia calls the Imposter Series, a multi-year project consuming at least half of her company’s history. In dropshift dance’s six seasons, Cerniglia’s aesthetic has gently, steadily pulled away from her roots in Zephyr Dance, but her commitment […]

Synapse returns to roots in ‘Openwork’

By on June 5, 2016

CHICAGO — A decade ago, Rachel Damon sat in a tree knitting a long red scarf. Her fledgling company performed many works like these — site-specific installations using multiple mediums — as we saw Synapse Arts Collective performing in parks, crosswalks and atop fabricated clouds. Since that time, Damon assumed leadership of the once-collective of multi-disciplinary artists, and the […]

RockCitizen: Peace, Love, and Civil Unrest

By on May 3, 2016

CHICAGO — On its surface, The Seldoms’ latest RockCitizen (premiering Thursday, May 5 at the Storefront Theater) is an exploration and celebration of rock music and the counterculture that grew alongside or out of it. Indeed, rock ‘n’ roll informs and infuses the text, gestures, sound score, and onstage singing that play equal parts to […]

Timothy O’Donnell explores envy in ‘The Sixth Sin’

By on March 31, 2016

MILWAUKEE, WI – While taking a brief hiatus from dancing, Timothy O’Donnell visited Milwaukee Ballet to take class on a whim. Artistic Director Michael Pink invited him to join the company that day, and the city to our north is now O’Donnell’s full-time home. In addition to dancing for Milwaukee Ballet, O’Donnell is also its […]

Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble tackles tough topics (review)

By on March 16, 2016

Celebrating 15 years this season, Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble (CDE)’s latest project is an ambitious investigation into sexual assault and domestic violence. Titled Bindis & Bruises, the 45-minute work of dance theater focuses in on this sensitive topic mostly through the lens of Indian women, driven by the real experiences of creators Ellyzabeth Adler and Priya Narayan. Running […]

Winifred Haun & Dancers in "Your nearest exit may be behind you" by Winifred Haun. Photo credit: Matthew Gregory Hollis, lighting by Julie Ballard

A Mixed Bag at Winifred Haun’s ‘First Draft’

By on February 29, 2016

CHICAGO — “You are really going to love this show,” said Winifred Haun onstage at the Ruth Page Center for the Performing Arts, “especially if you love chairs.” Indeed, chairs or some form thereof were coincidentally a part of all the dances on the program in First Draft, Haun’s two-day engagement featuring new-ish dances from five […]

Abundant Eye Candy in Joffrey’s ‘Bold Moves’ (review)

By on February 15, 2016

The contemporary works on Joffrey’s latest (through Feb. 21 at the Auditorium Theatre) have little in common, once again showing off the company’s versatility in a program that is bound to have something for everyone. There is something old (Jirí Kylián’s Forgotten Land), something new (world premiere Tipping Point by Ashley Page), something borrowed (Yuri Possokhov’s […]

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 […]

Kansas City Ballet Unveils a New Nutcracker (review)

By on December 22, 2015

KANSAS CITY, MO: As other mid-size cities’ downtown districts dwindle, Kansas City is growing at an unbelievable pace. Long known for its BBQ and jazz music, a series of projects and new facilities have been very good for several long-standing KC arts and cultural organizations. The trio of organizations forming the artistic hub of KC (Kansas […]

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 […]

Adam Rose’s ‘Against Being’ is a Dance About Nothing

By on October 27, 2015

“Well, we haven’t talked about philosophy,” said Adam Rose, when asked, “Is there anything else?” toward the end of our interview about his latest work, Against Being. Rose premieres Against Being, what he calls a “dance about nothing,” at Links Hall culminating a year of research and movement investigation supported by a 2014 Lab Artist […]

J. Lindsay Brown Goes for Broke in ‘Spectacle Spectacular’ (review)

By on August 21, 2015

  MCL Chicago is a year-old space in Lakeview, great for improv comedy. It’s an intimate setting with little cafe tables interspersed throughout the audience for a BYOB beverage-of-choice, but like every space, this one has a few down sides. J. Lindsay Brown’s fully improvised dance and song extravaganza with The Glitter Island Gang, Spectacle Spectacular, suffered a bit in […]

Pursuit Productions tackles difficult dance theatre with ‘THEM’

By on July 6, 2015

Pursuit Productions is the collective effort of director Kacie Smith and dancer/choreographer Ahmad Simmons. As co-Artistic Directors, the two have produced a wide range of works in their few years of working together — some more clearly dance, some more clearly theater. One thing is for sure: these two are good for each other, elevating their respective […]

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 […]

Dance Shelter: Raw, unfiltered, unreasonably long (review)

By on May 13, 2015

In Chicago Moving Company’s first performance since the death of Chicago dance guru and CMC founder Nana Shineflug, Dance Shelter maintained all her goodness and unbridled spirit. Nana was perhaps best known for trying anything and everything, something that has been passed down to the choreographers she mentored throughout her life. Nana’s influence is, perhaps, best […]

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: 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 […]

‘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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

Milwaukee Ballet’s Michael Pink: “If we get you through the doors, we can have a lasting impact”

By on May 16, 2014

MILWAUKEE, WI: “That is the the biggest challenge… this city lives under the shadow of Chicago so people make an assumption that it can’t possibly hold much value,” said Michael Pink, “but I can tell you that the arts are in abundance, and rival anything you can find in Chicago…there is not a dull moment […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Opposites Attract in Paige Caldarella’s ‘Off Center’

By on November 3, 2013

CHICAGO — Can different genres of dance co-exist in a performance space? The question isn’t new, but each attempt at an answer produces widely different results. In her final outing as a Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist, Paige Caldarella fashions a relationship between ballet and vogue, calling on her background as a Julliard trained dancer […]

Deeply Rooted Dance Theater and Natya Back-to-Back at the Harris (preview)

By on October 28, 2013

On my visit to the studios of Ballet Chicago yesterday, looking out from the 19th floor over the ballet barres at our beautiful skyline, I kept thinking that this is what I imagined life as a professional dancer to look like. The rehearsal climate at Deeply Rooted Dance Theater (DRDT) is intensely focused and serious, […]

Giordano Promises Passion, Energy, Unbridled Enthusiasm – and Delivers

By on October 27, 2013

If he was still here today, Gus Giordano would have been exceedingly proud of his company’s 51st season opener. In a one-night-only repertory offering of full company pieces titled Escape Ordinary: 51st Extraordinary Season, Giordano Dance Chicago gave us exactly what I expected: all-out, balls to the walls, technically stunning dancing that brought the audience […]

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 […]

Another Op’nin Another Show: Susan Marshall’s “Play/Pause” at the Dance Center (review)

By on September 21, 2013

The Dance Center of Columbia College’s 40th season opened last night with the world premiere of Susan Marshall’s Play/Pause. It was kind of a big deal, for a few reasons: 1) The Dance Center turns 40 this year.  I wonder if, when founder Shirley Mordine started all this, she ever could have imagined how successful a […]

Chicago Dancing Festival in Review

By on August 28, 2013

Another chapter of the Chicago Dancing Festival closed, and while I’d love to say that I was spending all sorts of time trying to process it – well – I’d be a liar.  The day job hit me like a ton of bricks after my visit to the Auditorium Theatre last Thursday. You know, life […]