After a packed and very fruitful fall season, one might presume that the dance world would go into hibernation for awhile. Au contraire, mes amies. The cold months are quite packed with some heavy hitters on the touring circuit as well as many of our hometown heroes, big and small. Here's a sneak peek of things to consider adding to your winter dance card:
The Joffrey Ballet goes ultra-modern at the Auditorium Theatre Feb. 12-25 in an all-contemporary program with Chicago premieres of Crossing Ashland ( 2012 ) from Chicagoan Brock Clawson and the 2002 Continuum from Christopher Wheeldon. Also on the program is the visually, technically, and conceptually stunning Episode 31, Alexander Ekman's black-and- white beauty that premiered this summer at the Chicago Dancing Festival. Whether you like ballet or not, this program is not to be missed. www.Joffrey.org
Hamburg Ballet returns to the Harris Theater for Music and Dance for a second time with John Neumeier's Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler. The critically acclaimed evening-length work premiered in 1975 and is now amongst the repertories of Paris Opera Ballet and the Royal Swedish Ballet. As the only U.S. venue to present the work on this tour, this two-night engagement ( Feb. 19-20 ) is a really big deal. www.harristheaterchicago.org
Also coming up at the Harris is the one-night-only STePz featuring tap genius Savion Glover on Jan. 24, and the inaugural "Eat ( and Drink ) to the Beat" on Jan. 30, a $5 happy hour spinoff of the successful lunch series. Next door to the Harris, Winifred Haun & Dancers reconfigures its wildly successful Vision, Faith & Desire, a performance inspired by Martha Graham and showing at Pritzker Pavilion Feb. 6-8. www.brownpapertickets.com
The Dance Center of Columbia College continues its 40th-season celebration with a packed lineup. February features a tribute to Hip Hop with France's Compagnie Kafig ( Feb. 20-22 ) and Philadelphia-based Raphael Xavier ( Feb. 27-Mar. 1 ). Included in the "hiphopapolooza" are free workshops, lectures, panel discussions and dance battles throughout the two week festival.
A double bill of Chicago-based Khecari and the Humans runs February 6-8, with Julia Rae Antonick's recently premiered cresset: vibrant, rusting alongside Jonathan Meyer's duet for two men Esther & the Omphali and Rachel Bunting's my my gray sky, a work for thirteen performers inspired by childhood playgrounds. The Dance Center is also co-presenting the highly anticipated return of Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan and its legendary Songs of the Wanderers March 14 and 16 with the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University ( where performances will take place ) and The Joffrey Ballet. www.colum.edu/Dance_Center
The Leopold Group opens Archipelago Jan. 24 at Stage 773. The series of solos and duets are carefully strung together to make an evening of cohesive work by some heavy hitters in the indie dance scene. Included on the bill are Leopold, Enid Smith, Cara Newman, Jessie Marasa and Kristina Fluty, among others. Thodos Dance Chicago premieres new work Feb. 22 at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in a compelling collaboration with architect Jeanne Gang. The bill also includes revivals of A Light in the Dark, a story ballet on the lives of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan, and Ahmad Simmon's smash hit Panem Nostrum Quoditianum ( www.northshorechenter.org ). Thodos brings the program to the city March 8-9 at the Harris Theater.
Links Hall continues to thrive in its new home on Western Avenue, and this winter plays host to performances by emerging companies Esoteric Dance Project ( Feb. 7-9 ); dropshiftdance ( Feb. 28-March 2 ), led by long-time Zephyr dancer Andrea Cerniglia; and Philip Elson Dance ( March 14-16 ). It's always a win-win to see excellent up-and-coming dance with a hot toddy by one's side. For Links, that's just another day in the office. www.linkshall.org