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Winter dance preview
by Scott C. Morgan, Windy City Times

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The weather outside may be chilly, but temperatures are bound to rise indoors if you catch performances by any one of the local and visiting dance companies this winter season. There's plenty of ballet, contemporary and even participatory dance events for you to get the blood flowing.

Ballet: On your toes

If you want laugh with your classical dance, then you can't miss the return engagement of Les Ballets Trockaderos de Monte Carlo, the famed troupe of men in ballet drag who also perform en pointe just like the women do. These masters of comedy ballet perform 7:30 p.m. Jan. 24 at Millennium Park's Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph Dr. Tickets are $45-$75; call 312-334-7777.

The State Ballet Theatre of Russia brings two classical ballets to two Chicago-area locations in the next few weeks. Fans of the film Natalie Portman's Black Swan (or of Tchaikovsky's classic score) might be keen to take a trip up north to see Swan Lake at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Genesee Theatre, 203 N. Genesee St., Waukegan. Tickets are $23-$53; call 847-782-2366.

Then The State Ballet Theatre of Russia performs Prokofiev's famed 20th century score for Romeo and Juliet at 8 p.m. Jan. 28 and 2 p.m. Jan. 29 at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress. Tickets are $30-$87; call 800-982-2787.

The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago offers a mixed repertory program called "Winter Fire," and it features three pieces by some of the world's most important contemporary ballet choreographers. First on the bill is U.S. choreographer William Forsythe's challenging In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated set to an electronic-punk score by Thom Willems. Next are works by two British choreographers: Christopher Wheeldon's After the Rain set to music of Arvo Pärt, then the U.S. premiere of Wayne McGregor's high-tech multimedia piece InfraChoreography.

The Joffrey Ballet's Winter Fire plays Feb. 15-26 at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Pkwy. Tickets are $25-$149; call 800-982-2787.

The Joffrey Ballet also shows off the winners of its Choreographers of Color Awards 2012 at 4 p.m. March 11 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph. On the bill are world premiere contemporary works by choreographers Bennyroyce Royon, Carlos dos Santos, Jr. and Ray Mercer performed by Joffrey Academy dancers, plus academy artistic director Alexei Kremnev's piece Le Roi s'Amuse: Dances in Ancient Style. Tickets are $15-$18 and can be reserved at

Contemporary courtesy of Columbia College

As always, The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago continues its artistic mission of hosting both national and homegrown dance companies. See plenty of Chicago premieres at this venue this winter at 1306 S. Michigan Ave.; call 312-344-8300 for more information on these performances and special family matinees attached to each run.

The Margaret Jenkins Dance Company performs its namesake choreographer's evening-length piece, Light Moves, which is a collaborative multimedia piece featuring a score by Paul Dresher, poetry by Michael Palmer and multimedia projections by Naomie Kremer. Performances of Light Moves are at 8 p.m. Feb. 9-11. Tickets are $26-$30.

Local choreographer Molly Shanahan and her dance company, Mad Shak, present a hypnotic piece called Stamina of Curiosity that is part of a three-year project to explore the terrain between planning and spontaneity in movement. Performances are 8 p.m. Feb. 23-25. Tickets are $26-$30.

The Space/Movement Project, Rachel Damon/Synapse Arts & Erica Mott is a shared program of premieres. The dance-making collective The Space/Movement Project explores social dancing in its piece, Kiss Kiss Missles, while choreographer Rachel Damon uses improvisation and the live drumming of percussionist Frank Rosaly to challenge her collaborators in the piece Without Pause. Rounding out the program is Mott, who utilizes object manipulation and sculptural costuming for her piece Five Gaits, Four Walls, Fourteen Knots. Performances are 8 p.m. March 8-10, and tickets are $26-$30.

Going modern in Millennium Park

Millennium Park's Harris Theater for Music and Dance is another hive of dance activity this winter as the host of many local modern and jazz dance companies. These performances are at 205 E. Randolph Dr.; call 312-334-7777 for more information.

We're not sure if we should take The Seldoms at its word for its upcoming show, This is Not a Dance Concert, at 7, 8:15 and 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4. What we do know is that any perceptions you have of a dance concert should be put on a shelf with this full-immersion performance that breaks down barriers between audiences, musicians and dancer as any space in the theater (backstage, the lobbies and the auditorium) become performance spaces. Tickets are $20 for each performance and $100 for the 8 p.m. 10th-anniversary gala in the Harris Theater Donor Room.

River North Dance Chicago, once again, has prime Valentine's weekend scheduling with its winter performances at 8 p.m. Feb. 10-11 and 3 p.m. Feb. 12. What's being offered is the U.S. debut of choreographer Mauro Astolfi (artistic director of Italy's Spellbound Dance Company) who is creating a world premiere. Another world premiere on the bill is by Frank Chaves who joins forces with conductor/composer Josephine Lee of the Chicago Children's Choir for an original piano suite. Tickets are $30-$75.

Thodos Dance Chicago celebrates its 20th anniversary with revivals of choreographers Ann Reinking and Melissa Thodos' one-act story ballet The White City: Chicago's Columbian Exposition of 1893 and company signature works including Getting There, a modern take on Thodos' 1988 piece Reaching There. Performances are at 8 p.m. March 2 and 3. Tickets are $25-$60.

Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago then takes to the Harris Theater for its winter engagement titled Passion and Fire featuring many company repertory pieces at 8 p.m. March 9-10. Tickets are $15-$60.

Hubbard Street happenings

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is offering a new festival called danc(e)volve: New Works Festival, featuring world-premiere works by choreographers and dancers from both its main company and Hubbard Street 2. The festival runs Jan. 19-22 and 26-29 at the MCA Stage of the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave. Tickets are $35, but may be harder to come by since the Jan. 19-22 dates are already sold out; call Hubbard Street Dance Chicago at 312-850-9744 or the MCA Stage box office at 312-397-4010 for more information.

Big dance musicals

Fans of Broadway dance musicals have plenty to be thankful for this winter with two major tours and one home-grown professional regional show.

The Paramount Theatre in Aurora continues its first full season of locally produced professional musicals with a staging of the classic 1970s audition musical A Chorus Line Jan. 18-Feb. 5. It will be interesting to see how closely the show hews to the original staging by late director/choreographer Michael Bennett. Tickets are $34.90-$46.90; call 630-896-6666.

Choreographer Twyla Tharp's Frank Sinatra-inspired dance musical Come Fly Away continues its run at Chicago's Bank of America Theatre through Jan. 22 ($32-$95), while the international Irish step dancing hit Riverdance makes another return to Chicago at the Oriental Theatre from March 13-18 ($30-$85); call 800-775-2000.

Get moving yourself

Get into the action yourself with fundraisers and festivals this winter, too.

Tie on your tap shoes for the Chicago Human Rhythm Project's Winter Tap Jamboree Feb. 2-6. It features master classes, scholarship auditions and performances to celebrate African-American History Month in a variety of Chicago-area venues ranging from the DuSable Museum, the Athenaeum Theatre and Elgin Community College. For more information, visit .

The Dance Colective teams with Big Hearts Fund for a family-wellness fundraiser titled Wholehearted Wellness Jam 2012: Zumbathon 5:30-8:30 p.m. Feb. 23 at Grossinger City Autoplex, 1530 N. Dayton. Advance registration is $35; call 773-377-5560 for more information.

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