Lindsey Leduc (from left), Ashley Rockwood and Maeghan McHale in Giordano Dance Chicago's "La Belleza de Cuba." | Gorman Cook Photography photo
Those who caught even a single performance of this summer’s Chicago Dancing Festival (which attracted a crowd estimated at more than 11,000 for its Aug. 24 finale in Millennium Park) could not help but be knocked out by the extraordinary range and talent of the work on view. This year’s festival was notable for its largely Chicago-centric lineup, and it was the richness and technical brilliance of our own companies — the Joffrey Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, the Ensemble Espanol Spanish Dance Theatre, the Chicago Human Rhythm Project and Giordano Dance Chicago — that left the most vivid impressions.
Of course, without the infusion of visiting dance companies, there can be no growth. That kind of exposure is essential for both dancers and audiences here. Here is a sampler of the many different offerings you will find on Chicago stages this fall:
† JOFFREY BALLET (Sept. 19-22 and Oct. 16-27, Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress; 800-982-2787; joffrey.org): To celebrate the 100th anniversary of “The Rite of Spring,” the ballet with the groundbreaking score by Igor Stravinsky and choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky, the company has added a special weekend (Sept. 19-22) to its season. This “Russian Masters” program will include the Joffrey’s landmark 1987 recreation of “Rite,” as well as Balanchine’s “Allegro Brillante” (to music of Tchaikovsky); a revival of contemporary Russian-bred choreographer Yuri Possokhov’s “Bells” (to Rachmaninoff), and his new duet for dancers Victoria Jaiani and Temur Suluashvili, to music by Khachaturian. The troupe’s standard fall season will mark the Joffrey premiere of the full-length “La Bayadere: The Temple Dancer” Stanton Welch’s version of the 19th century classic that spins the exotic story of an Indian temple dancer, her warrior lover, and the many forces that try to separate them.
† HUBBARD STREET DANCE CHICAGO (Oct. 10-13, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph; 312-850-9744; hubbardstreetdance.com): The program will feature “Casi-Casa” (“Almost Home”), the alternately real, surreal and fiercely comic work of Swedish master Mats Ek; “Passomezzo,” an athletic, romantically tough duet by Israel’s Ohad Naharin; a new work by former Hubbard Street dancer-turned-choreographer Robyn Mineko Williams (a 2013 Princess Grace Award winner); and a world premiere by resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo (his 12th piece for the company).
† BALLET WEST (Oct. 4-6, Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress; 312-341-2357; auditoriumtheatre.org): This Salt Lake City-based company (best known these days as the focus of “Breaking Pointe,” the reality TV series on CW) will present “The Sleeping Beauty” (Oct. 4-5), the 19th century classic newly conceived by artistic director Adam Sklute (with Tchaikovsky’s score played live), plus a mixed rep program (Oct. 6) that will include the Midwest premiere of Val Caniparoli’s “The Lottery,” based on Shirley Jackson’s story of the same name. Set to a new score by Robert Moran, “The Lottery” includes a groundbreaking interactive experience. Also on the program will be excerpts from Balanchine’s “Jewels” ballet — the “Rubies” section (to Stravinsky) and a pas de deux from “Diamonds” (to Tchaikovsky).
† ASPEN SANTA FE BALLET (Oct. 5, Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph; 312-334-7777; harristheaterchicago.org): This outstanding troupe with a modern aesthetic will perform a program of all commissioned works, including Jorma Elo’s “Over Glow” and “Last” by Hubbard Street’s own Alejandro Cerrudo.
† GIORDANO DANCE CHICAGO (Oct. 25-26, Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph; 312-334-7777; harristheaterchicago.org): The program will feature two premieres — a full-company work by the dynamic Israeli-born, Philadelphia-based choreographer Roni Koresh, and a new piece by Autumn Eckman, Giordano’s gifted resident choreographer. Other works on the bill will be Brock Clawson’s athletic “Give and Take”; Liz Imperio’s Latin, jazz, Afro-Cuban-influenced “La Belleza de Cuba”; Kiesha Lalama’s “Alegria” (2011); and two others to be announced.
† RIVER NORTH DANCE CHICAGO (Nov. 14, 16, 17, Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph; 312-334-7777; harristheaterchicago.org): Among other works, the program will include several premieres, including Ashley Roland’s “Sweeping Out the Ghosts,” Kevin Iega Jeff’s “Dawn” and the company debut of Adam Barruch’s “Worst Pies in London,” a wacky solo to the Stephen Sondheim song from “Sweeney Todd.”
† DANCE CENTER OF COLUMBIA COLLEGE (1306 S. Michigan; 312-369-8330; colum.edu/Dance_Center): Performing at the Dance Center will be Susan Marshall & Company (Sept. 19-21) in “Play/Pause,” a post modern-meets-indie rock work to an original David Lang score; Mordine & Company Dance Theater (Oct. 3-5) in “I Haven’t Gone Theater...,” a commedia dell’arte riff to live music by the maverick Mucca Pazzo marching band; Same Planet Different World Dance Theatre & Peter Carpenter Performance Project (Oct. 10-12), including a piece by Netta Yerulshamy evoking a stroll through an art museum; and Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company (Oct. 24-26) in “Story/Time.”
† THODOS DANCE CHICAGO: At 1:30 p.m. Sept. 8 on WTTW-Channel 11, you can catch “Shine,” Christopher Kai Olsen’s documentary about the Melissa Thodos-Ann Reinking piece about Helen Keller and her teacher, Anne Sullivan, followed by a full recording of the beautiful piece itself. The company also will perform live in a very different program in collaboration with the Fulcrum Point New Music Project (Sept. 20 at the Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago, 915 E. 60 St.).
† DANCE CHICAGO (Oct. 19-Nov. 30, Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport; 773-935-6875; dancechicago.com): Now in its 19th season, this huge smorgasboard of local dance, curated by John Schmitz, features everything from dance slams, to ethnic dance, to a new choreography competition.
† CHICAGO DANCEMAKERS FORUM (Nov. 16, Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago; 312-397-4010; mcachicago.org): To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Forum, experimental dance will be performed throughout the day at the MCA, with a mix of new, site-specific works and longtime favorites. A special evening performance will be followed by a gala reception.
† LINKS HALL (3111 N. Western; 773-281-0824; linkshall.org): Kicking off a full season of experimental work in Links Hall’s new home will be Chicago’s Lucky Plush Productions (Oct. 3-13), dancing “Cinderbox 2.0” and “The Better Half.”