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FALL DANCE SPECIAL Fall dance gives new life to old classics
by Lauren Warnecke
2016-09-14

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Revisions, re-imaginations, reprises and revivals are on the bill for many of Chicago's dance companies this season, with a smattering of works that are altogether new. While there's plenty to see from homegrown artists, a number of exciting tours are coming to town this fall, some for the first time.

—The Joffrey Ballet's highly anticipated world premiere of Christopher Wheeldon's brand-new Nutcracker ballet is preceded by the revival of Krysztof Pastor's Romeo & Juliet, premiered by the company in 2014 and showing Oct. 13-23 at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Pkwy.

Both of the ballets preserve their original music, though Wheeldon and Pastor have each taken creative liberties by changing the stories' settings. The three-act Romeo & Juliet moves Shakespeare's tragedy through three different eras of political strife in Italy: the 1930s during the rise of Fascist ideologies, the end of World War II and increased political terrorism in the 1950s, and the social divisiveness surrounding Silvio Berlusconi's reign as prime minister in the 1990s. Wheeldon's Nutcracker, his first original creation for Joffrey, features central character Marie as the member of a working class, immigrant family whose matriarch is among the construction team building the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Premiering Dec. 10 at the Auditorium, this special Chicago version of the classic ballet features an all-star team of collaborators and is sure to be super-magical. ( Joffrey.org )

—Lucky Plush Productions' Trip the Light Fantastic: The Making of SuperStrip premiered last year at the Harris Theater, and will enjoy a revival at the much more intimate Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, 1306 S. Michigan Ave. Sept. 29-Oct. 1. The lovable, often hilarious dancer/actors of Lucky Plush play washed up superheroes embarking on a mission to reinvent themselves by starting a nonprofit think tank.

Also at the Dance Center this fall is a world premiere from The Seldoms, whose different brand of dance-theater investigates socio-political issues through multimedia performances. Company member Philip Elson is the first to receive a commission for a full-length work; the result is The Fifth, a peek into the Dark Net and the motivations ( and hesitations ) of hacktivists showing Oct. 13-15 ( colum.edu/Dance_Center/performances ).

—Elements Contemporary Ballet celebrates its 10th anniversary with a gala performance bringing back the 2014 one-act The Sun King Nov. 20 at the newly refurbished Studebaker Theater in the Fine Arts Building, 401 S. Michigan Ave. Resident choreographer Joseph Caruna's ballet on the life of the famed French monarch, who many give credit for the birth of ballet, is accompanied live by the Haymarket Opera Orchestra playing baroque period instruments and vocalist ALEXA GRÃïÃïï ( studebakertheater.com ).

—The Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph, hosts fall series for Visceral Dance Chicago ( Oct. 1 ), Giordano Dance Chicago ( Oct. 28-29 ) and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago ( Nov. 17-20 ). Hubbard Street brings back Jiri Kylian's companion pieces Sarabande ( 1990 ) and Falling Angels ( 1989 ), the former of which features the company's men, the latter the women. Also on the program are new works from resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo and New York City-based Brian Brooks, whose commission by the Harris Theater is part of a first ever choreographic residency at the venue.

Giordano Dance Chicago shows a number of favorite revivals alongside a new work by rising star Peter Chu. Chu's Divided Against is a contemporary departure for the company, which primarily performs in the jazz idiom, and highlights the choreographer's mercurial, liquid-like movement vocabulary. Visceral's fall series includes premieres by artistic director Nick Pupillo and Los Angeles-based Erica Sobol, and an encore performance of Marguerite Donlon's smash hit Ruff Celts. ( HarrisTheaterChicago.org )

—Barak ade Soleil, Ayako Kato, Megan Young and Deeply Rooted Productions are among the locals featured in the fourth annual SpinOff, a series of free concerts featuring midwestern dancemakers and presented at various locations by the city's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events ( DCASE ). The festival's lineup also includes Minneapolitans from BodyCartography Project, whose closer ( Oct. 28-Nov. 5 ) is a 30-minute performance in which one audience member and one performer stand in close proximity. Closer will also be presented in a group format—and, inevitably, a dance party—at Links Hall, 3111 N. Western Ave., on Nov. 4-5 ( linkshall.org ).

—Following last season's successful series on the aging dancer, Zephyr Dance Artistic Director Michelle Kranicke presents new work Oct. 20-23 at the new home of Defibrillator Gallery, 1463 W. Chicago Ave. For the first time, Kranicke collaborates with her husband, architect David Sundry, for Valise 13, an interactive labyrinth, a "choose your own adventure" in which audience members wander between movement vignettes throughout the space ( zephyrdance.com ).

In a similar vein, Khecari's Jonathan Meyer and Julia Rae Antonick further expand their long form improvised duet to hold a dance sleepover breaking performers and viewers from their everyday grinds at Indian Boundary Park, 2500 W. Lunt Ave., Nov. 10 and 19. Titled The Retreat, audience members can opt for a conventional concert length, four-hour super show, or overnight experience including dinner, sleeping pods, and morning coffee ( khecari.org ).

—In addition to locals The Seldoms and Lucky Plush, The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago's presenting series includes a one-night-only showing of Butoh artist Tadashi Endo Sept. 17 in his solo show Fukushimo Mon Amour, a dance about the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami in Japan that lead to nuclear disaster at Fukushimo. nora chipaumire performs her work, portrait of myself as my father, Oct. 20-22. The trio, performed in a boxing ring constructed onstage, confronts stereotypes about Black masculinity as a consequence of colonialism, Christian ideology and social stratification. Finally, the Chicago debut of Tere O'Connor Dance ( Nov. 3-5 ) considers the human condition and its relationship to choreographic vernacular.

—Finally, November highlights include two exciting Chicago premieres at the Museum of Contemporary Art ( MCA ), 220 E. Chicago Ave., and the Auditorium Theatre.

Dorrance Dance, co-presented by Chicago Human Rhythm Project and the Chicago Humanities Festival, brings ETM Double Down to the MCA's Edlis Neeson Theater at the MCA Nov. 4-6. A rising innovator in today's tap world, choreographer Michelle Dorrance celebrates electronica using a synthesized tap floor and fusing tap with break dance. ( MCAChicago.org )

Dance Theatre of Harlem's appearance at the Auditorium this season is Nov. 18-20, in which audiences will see the Midwest premiere of Francesca Harper's timely System exploring how certain races, classes and genders are ostracized, with a specific lens on the current uprising in violence against Black Americans. ( AuditoriumTheatre.org )


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