Mikhail Baryshnikov and Ana Laguna, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Sept. 25-27: Although he's made some of the most important creations of the past few decades, Swedish choreographer Mats Ek's dances have been all but absent from Chicago stages.
That will change in a big way when Mikhail Baryshnikov and Ek's wife Ana Laguna bring "Solo for Two" ( 1996 ) and "Place" ( 2007 ) to life for three performances at the Harris. That in itself would make the program a highlight of the year, but Mr. Baryshnikov has generously decided to also dance two solos while he's in townbe advised that remaining tickets are going quickly. $55-75 at 312-334-7777 or www.harristheaterchicago.org
Natya Dance Theatre, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, Skokie, Sept. 26: Hema and Krithika Rajagopalan's full-length "Shakti ChakraThe Energy Cycle" exemplifies the style of this Indian-American dance company and the Bharata Natyam technique at which it excels. $30 at 847-673-6300 or www.northshorecenter.org
Nora Chipaumire with Thomas Mapfumo and The Blacks Unlimited, Museum of Contemporary Art ( MCA ) , Oct. 1, 3-4: The MCA opens its wonderfully dance-heavy '09/10 season with the world premiere of lions will roar, swans will fly, angels will wrestle heaven, rains will break: gukurahundi. These exiled Zimbabwean artistsChipaumire is a dancer and choreographer living in New York, while Chimurenga musician Mapfumo works out of Eugene, Ore.seek to communicate and bring eloquence to the suffering plaguing their beloved homeland. $10-25 at 312-397-4010 or www.mcachicago.org
Merce Cunningham Dance Company, The Dance Center of Columbia College, Oct. 1-3: Along with the loss of Pina Bausch in June, Merce Cunningham's death in July saddened the performance world and sparked debate about how, in their absence, their art might live on. For the time being, MCDC retains its international touring commitments and thus will perform two programs at the intimate Dance Center theater as scheduled. Longtime fans of his genius and innovation will be there, and those who have never seen it live simply cannot miss it. $38 at 312-369-8330 or www.colum.edu/dancecenter
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Oct. 1-4: Glenn Edgerton's first season as artistic director opens with a world premiere by Jorma Elo, whose "From All Sides" the company débuted in 2007 and "Double Evil" San Francisco Ballet brought last fall. I'm a big fan of Elo's movement: Liquid, precise and individualized, it looks like the world we live in. A hot new relationship between HSDC and the Art Institute is also worth keeping an eye ononce a month beginning Sept. 24, Hubbard Street's dancers and staff will appear at the museum for a variety of events. Fall series tickets are $25-90 at 312-334-7777 or www.harristheaterchicago.org; visit hubbardstreetdance.com for more information.
Links Hall 30th Anniversary Celebration: This storied space at 3435 N. Sheffield has barely had a day off since 1979home to everything from workshops and rehearsals to dance, theater, music and cabaret, it offers its floor to a local and global network of artists from dawn to well past dusk. Great shows are on the venue's calendar all season long, but Oct. 2-3 the grind will be put on hold for 30 consecutive hours of performance and partying. For a detailed schedule, call 773-281-0824 or visit linkshall.org .
Miami City Ballet, Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, Oct. 2-4: George Balanchine's American reimagining of ballet has spawned a regiment of companies and each gives his legacy a different spin. Since 1985, Miami City Ballet have put the most daring and athletic aspects of his choreography up front. Artistic Director Edward Villella, the boxer who became a Balanchine star in the '60s, has chosen "Symphony in Three Movements" and the earlier of two Valse Fantaisies to represent his mentor; extending the show in both historical directions are Swan Lake's smoldering Black Swan Pas de Deux and Twyla Tharp's "In the Upper Room." $30-89 at 800-982-2787 or ticketmaster.com/auditorium
Luna Negra Dance Theater, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Oct. 9-10: Live music from pianist and Ravinia CEO Welz Kauffman, singers Michelle Areyzaga and Paul Corona, and Grammy winners Turtle Island Quartet and Paquito D'Rivera are just a few enticements to attend Luna Negra's 10th Anniversary gala on Oct. 9; the other reason is this company's stable of dancers and endless reserve of energy, which you can also see on a regular program the following night. Tickets are $25-55; visit www.harristheaterchicago.org or call 312-337-6882 for more information.
Hedwig Dances: Also celebrating a birthdayits 25this Hedwig Dances, whose members are working in multiple media over the next few months with a two-day, free festival of dance cinema Oct. 13-14, an engagement at Links Hall Oct. 23-25, and the premiere of Artistic Director Jan Bartoszek's film "Arch of Repose" at the Music Box Nov. 11. Pick up the details at hedwigdances.com .
Joffrey Ballet, Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University, Oct. 14-25: An evening-length Othello by Lar Lubovitch opens the Joffrey's season with music by Eliot Goldenthal, an Oscar-winning composer who scored this summer's Public Enemies. The ballet is receiving its Chicago premiere from the companyit originated at American Ballet Theatre in 1997giving our balletomanes a chance to weigh in on Lubovitch's polarizing depiction of Shakespeare's Moor of Venice. $25-145 at 312-739-0120 and www.joffrey.com
Lucinda Childs: DANCE, Museum of Contemporary Art, Oct. 15-17: The amazing complexity of this stage piece, which synchronizes a film by conceptual artist Sol LeWitt with live dancers visible through the scrim it's projected upon, has been painstakingly rebuilt. It visits the MCA over a weekend also including its annual gala and a solo piano performance by Philip Glass, who created the score for DANCE's 1979 premiere. $40; details at www.mcachicago.org
Lucky Plush Productions, The Dance Center of Columbia College, Oct. 22-31: Choreographer Julia Rhoads is marking her multidisciplinary company's first decade with a new work, "Punk Yankees," which mines Lucky Plush's rich repertory and research into the issues of authorship and authenticity erupting not just around dance, but all forms of art. Tickets are $24; call 312-369-8330 or visit www.colum.edu/dancecenter. Visit www.stealthisdance.com for more on the process behind the piece.
Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago ( GJDC ) , Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Oct. 23-24: Philadelphia-based company Rennie Harris Puremovement is a beloved and critically-acclaimed group that consistently exercises the full potential of hip-hop dance theater. GJDC is originating a new work by Harris for its fall series, MOVE!, that will be presented alongside a broad variety of premieres and favorites. $15-60 at 312-334-7777 or www.harristheaterchicago.org
Anna Halprin/Anne Collod & guests, MCA, Nov. 5, 7-8: Anna Halprin's busy and beautiful Parades & Changes shocked and energized the New York dance world on which it dropped in 1965; Anne Collod is a French choreographer who for some time has been cherry-picking modern masterpieces to keep alive through meticulous reconstructions. Their cooperative revival "parades & changes, replays" is a project marrying past and present in the eternal spirit of creativitydon't miss it. $25 at 312-397-4010 or www.mcachicago.org
River North Chicago Dance Company, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Nov. 7: Yet another anniversary, River North's 20th, kicks off with Artistic Director Frank Chaves' repackaging of company calling card "Reality of a Dreamer" with Sherry Zunker, his former creative partner turned entertainment industry mastermind. Monique Haley's unapologetically carefree ( and lovely ) "Uhuru" also returns, along with other works. $30-65 at www.harristheaterchicago.org or call 312-337-6882
Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University, Nov. 14-15: Hubbard Street fans should take note of this New York troupe's first Chicago appearance under Benoit-Swan Pouffer's stewardship. Its generous and brave artists will bring work by Crystal Pite, Didy Veldman and Jo Stromgrenpowerhouse dancemakers allto the Auditorium's vast stage.
These shows merely scratch the surface of all that's going on this autumn. Some you'll hear more about in future issues include:
Peter Carpenter's My Fellow Americans, Hamlin Park Fieldhouse Theater, Oct. 8-9 and 15-16
Winifred Haun & Dancers, Ruth Page Center for the Arts, Oct. 9-10
Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak, Alverno College, Milwaukee, Oct. 24
Same Planet Different World Dance Theatre, Links Hall, Nov. 19-21