The Joffrey Ballet in the Crown Fountain in Millennium Park during a recent video shoot for Alexander Ekman's "Episode 31." | HERBERT MIGDOLL PHOTO.
For dance lovers, this promises to be one of the most event-intensive weeks of the year as the 13th annnual Chicago Dancing Festival kicks off at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance on Tuesday, continues at the Museum of Contemporary Art Theater (Wednesday and Friday), and the Auditorium Theatre (Thursday), before culminating Saturday at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. In past years, that free outdoor grand finale has attracted as many as 15,000 people.
Although most of the free tickets for this week’s indoor festival events already have been handed out, “standby” is always worth a try. (Visit chicagodancingfestival.com for the full lineup and guidelines.) But the grand finale is open to all, with no advance planning necessary.
This year’s lineups put a strong spotlight on Chicago’s finest dance companies, with the Joffrey Ballet represented on every program in one form or another.
The Joffrey will be featured at the Saturday finale in Jerome Robbins’ “Interplay,” a jazzy classic of youthful energy and bravura technique. Also on the bill will be Chicago’s Ensemble Espanol Spanish Dance Theater performing Dame Libby Komaiko’s blazing version of “Bolero,” to the ever-popular Ravel score; Giordano Dance Chicago in “Two Become Three,” by the young Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman; the Chicago Human Rhythm Project in the premiere of Lane Alexander and Bril Barrett’s “In the beginning...”; the Philadelphia-based troupe Philadanco in Rennie Harris’ “Wake Up”; “In/Side,” a solo choreographed by Robert Battle and performed by Samuel Lee Roberts of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; and Vaganova’s flamboyant “Diana & Actaeon” pas de deux, performed by Brooklyn Mack (of the Washington Ballet) and Tamako Miyazaki (of Columbia Classical Ballet).
Opening the festival at the Harris Theater will be a program that includes Stanton Welch’s modernisic “Son of Chamber Symphony,” to the music of John Adams; Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in Alejandro Cerrudo’s “Little mortal jump”; the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company in “Crisis Variations” to the music of contemporary composer Yevgeniy Sharlat, and performances by the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Brian Brooks Moving Company and the “Diana & Actaeon” pas de deux. The Thursday program at the Auditorium will feature the Joffrey Ballet in “Episode 31,” another work by Alexander Ekman, and including a video of the work’s 22 dancers cavorting in Millennium Park, on city streets and at L stops. Also on the bill will be Ensemble Espanol’s “Bolero” and the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company in “Transparent Things,” a work set to Debussy and inspired by Picasso’s paintings of saltimbanques (street acrobats). The program of solos (Wednesday and Friday at the MCA), holds great promise with the Joffrey’s Victoria Jaiani in “Dying Swan.”