Dance Chicago has put together a night of a vast variety of dances. Between each dance, everyone is pulling out their flashlights on their phones to read who is on next. They should have a screen on stage that displays the next performer or have an announcer / host.
Gus Giordano is known for jazz dance. However, they also do hip hop. This performance features 9 dancers decked out in sleek red and black outfits. The choreography is fantastic as it combines full company movement with many solos.
Jane Eyre was written by Charlotte Bronte. It was first published in 1847. Cathy Marston adapted the story into a ballet in 2016 for Northern Ballet in Doncaster, England. It’s North American premiere was in New York in June 2019 by the American Ballet Theatre. And now, in October of 2019, it premieres in Chicago.
In the story, Jane has a hard childhood as an orphan. However, she persists through it and becomes a teacher. This leads to a position as governess at Thornfield Hall, where she teaches the child of Mr. Rochester. There is a spark between Jane and her employer, but things will not go smoothly from here.
This ballet is truly narrative. It’s amazing how much can expressed through dance without words. However, it could also be helpful to have surtitles describing the action taking place on stage like they do at operas. Perhaps this will take place when the Joffrey moves to the Lyric Opera in the fall of 2020. Or, maybe it’s best not to have them and not worry about the meaning of the words and just get swept up in the emotion.
Victoria Jaiani as Jane and Fabrice Calmels as Mr. Rochester are fantastically impressive as the leads. They are so graceful and balletic.
The Harvest Chicago Contemporary Dance Festival takes place over two weekends at the end of September at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts. Ten dance groups perform during the first week. Here is a selection of the best performances from the first weekend.
Giordano II – Periphery
Choreographer: Joshua Blake Carter
The dancing in this piece is majestic and graceful. The choreography expertly matches the music by Nils Frahm, a contemporary pianist. This group consistently brings a top grade quality performance to this festival and they have become a staple.
All of the dancers sit neatly on the ground in a single file line. As the music by Forest Swords plays, the dancers move in a short explosion of movement and then return to their position. The music in this piece captivates the audience with its dramatic effects which allows room for vivid imagery in its interpretation. Given the loud deep breathing sounds, similar to the sound of a dragon drawing long breaths, perhaps the dances represent a dragon at rest, able to explode at any moment.
Aerial Dance Chicago – Stacked
Choreographer: Chloe Jensen
In the dark, three aerialists climb the silk rope hanging from the ceiling and strap themselves to cords hanging at three different lengths. The silk is removed, the lights come up, and the dancers spin and twist around on the cords. At the end, the lights go off and they bring back the silk rope to help them climb back down. Perhaps they should leave the lights on, as the performers getting in and out of position is a very interesting glimpse at the logistics of this performance.
Kybele Dance Theatre – Sonsuz
Choreographer: Seda Aybay
This professional contemporary dance company from Los Angeles puts on a work of art. It consists of beautiful movements of the dancers. As the program states, it is an abstract interpretation of Mary Oliver’s poem, “When Death Comes”.
Dance for Life is a fantastic event that brings together the best Chicago dance companies and the best dance audience. The proceeds go to the Dancers’ Fund, which provides financial assistance to dance community professionals in their time of need due to a medical issue. It’s a celebration of the dance community and its ability to care for its own. Here is a selection of some of the best performances:
Giordano Dance Chicago
Choreography by Ray Leeper (So You Think You Can Dance)
Music: Tina Turner – Proud Mary
This piece is so fun, soulful and energetic, just like Ray Leeper’s work on So You Think You Can Dance. It has mass appeal and truly matches the spirit of this iconic song. The picture captures a moment of this joyful dance. Catch Giordano Dance Chicago next at the Harris Theatre on October 25th or 26th.
The Joffrey Ballet
Choreography: Nicolas Blanc
Choreography: Yuri Possokhov
Both of these duets by the Joffrey are very graceful and beautiful. They stand out on this night as the most elegant and stylish. The Joffrey Ballet are true masters of this art form.
Catch The Joffrey Ballet next from October 16-27 in their production of Jane Eyre.
Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater
Mar de Fuego / Sea of Fire (2018)
Choreography: Carlos Rodriguez
This dance is dedicated to Dame Libby Komaiko (1949-2019), the founder of Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater. It’s a beautiful piece of movement fusing flamenco, folkloric, classical, and contemporary styles.
Choreography: Jessica Deahr in collaboration with the dancers
On multiple occasions, the dancers pull of impressive feats that are met with gasps from the crowd. It’s modern and it’s fresh and it fits in perfectly on this night.
Catch Chicago Dance Crash next from August 23rd to August 31st in their World Premiere of Lil Pine Nut.
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
Excerpt from Decadance / Chicago (2018)
Choreography: Ohad Naharin
Music: Chair Dance (Echad Mi Yodeah) by Ohad Naharin and Tractor’s Revenge
This piece features all the dancers dressed up in suits seated in a large semi circle. As the intense music plays, all the dancers remove their clothing one piece at a time while chanting along to the music. It’s very repetitive and feels like the dragging on of a long work week. One dancer repeatedly falls and struggles to keep up with the others. It feels like he doesn’t fit in and isn’t right for this job. It’s a very interesting piece open to interpretation.
This beautiful piece gives you the feeling that you are watching an endless ocean below an infinite ocean. The walls are all shades of blue and all the dancers are wearing shades of blue. It’s very graceful and the music composed by Peter Gregson is excellent.
Choreographer: Liam Scarlett
This piece originally premiered at the Norwegian National Ballet in 2013. It’s a very baroque style piece which means it is very opulent and elegant. In contrast to the first piece, this one features all red outfits. When a big group of dancers drop their red robes, it at first seems that they are completely nude. In fact, they are wearing skin colored tights.
Choreographer: Andrea Walker
This piece is completely different from the other two. It is a modern dance piece set to a electronic music soundtrack created by Ross Allchurch. The performance shows an immigrant struggling to fit into his new country. Everything seems chaotic and confusing around him as the dancers use sharp movements across the stage under a strobe light. He feels completely disconnected until he finds one person he can relate to and they fall in love. It’s an intensely dramatic dance that is followed by a standing ovation from the audience.
Catch The Joffrey Ballet next with Jane Eyre in October, 2019.
It’s opening weekend for Matter Dance Company’s Once Upon and the theatre is packed. A buzz is in the air in the intimate Den Theatre space. Fifteen pieces are tied together with a narrator and the theme of fairy tales. Here are a few of the best:
to destination unknown
Choreography: Mike Ford
Music: Happiness Does Not Wait by Olafur Arnalds
This one has beautiful dancing and beautiful music. The three women gracefully move across the stage as the notes roll over the audience. It’s a fantastic start to the evening.
Wicked Step Siblings
Choreography: Josh Fletcher
Music: Walking on Broken Glass by Annie Lennox
This super fun dance features eight performers fighting over a glass slipper in a tribute to Cinderella. Each dancer has a joyful moment when they have the slipper and are in celebration mode.
Catch of the Day
Choreography: Kristi Rice
Music: Hunter by Bjork
Six woman dressed in all green dance with an animalistic style. Then, a male hunter enters. While at first the women seem scared, they soon over power him and he becomes the catch of the day. It’s a great performance matched with an excellent song.
Photos by Michael Courier
Happily Never After
Choreography: Josh Fletcher
Music: Hush Hush by The Pussycat Dolls
This is another piece that showcases the joy that Matter Dance Company is best at creating. The dancers look like they are having so much fun and the audience is right there with them often exclaiming out loud in excitement. If you would like join them, they have an open audition in January.
One small flashlight in the large dark theatre appears on the side of the stage. A man humorously sneaks across the front of the curtain with the small light in silence. The following dance features him being chased around the stage as “I Will Follow You” by Abel Korzeniowski plays. By the way, Sneaky Pete is not a reference to the Amazon show of the same name.
Flickers (World Premiere)
Choreography by Marinda Davis
This piece is about chasing flickers of light amid the darkness. It begins with the dancers legs running in the air as the light flickers. “Change is Everything” by Son Lux plays as they move across the stage. “This moment changes everything” sings the lead singer in the song. The music matches the dancing quite well.
Choreography by Autumn Eckman
The dancers in this piece are Maeghan McHale and Devin Buchanan. This is their finale performance with Giordano Dance. It makes this romantic duet all the more special as they dance beautifully to Beethoven.
SOUL (2018)Choreography by Ray Leeper (So You Think You Can Dance)
Music: Tina Turner – Proud Mary
This piece is fun, soulful and energetic, just like Ray Leeper’s work on So You Think You Can Dance. It has mass appeal and truly matches the spirit of this iconic song. After the curtain call, the dancers come out and dance in the aisles in a great immersive finale.
Cost of a ticket: $55
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother
Catch Giordano Dance at Dance For Life at the Auditorium Theatre on August 17, 2019!
This fantastic piece features a giant billowing sheet that the performers constantly move up and down creating a cloudline appearance. The dancers move around smoothly as if they are dancing in the clouds. It’s such a romantic image. You could also say the couples are dancing between the sheets.
Elemental (World Premier)
Choreography by Robyn Mineko Williams
This dance is a beautiful piece of art. It creates a raw feeling of humans moving with their animal instincts in an elemental fashion. The performers move with such grace that it creates a sense of peace. The choreographer traveled to Havana, Cuba to work with the Malpaso Dance Company to create this dance. As she says, “The piece is a true representation of the cultural exchange that this process has been.”
Anna Karenina has a void in her life. Her husband and son are not enough for her. She seeks a new love with Vronsky. Things don’t go smoothly for her on this journey in a snowy Russia.
The dancing in the production is fantastic. Amanda Assucena’s performance as Anna Akrenina is impressive. She is so emotionally expressive. It’s also a true feat of endurance as she is on stage for most of the scenes. Greig Matthews as Vronskey and Temur Suluashvili as Anna’s husband are excellent, especially in the scene where they are both dancing with Anna. It’s an expertly choreographed dance with the three of them moving as one.
The original score was created by Ilya Demutsky specifically for this production. It is played magnificently by The Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra along with the operatic singing in Russian. Unfortunately, there aren’t surtitles translating it into English like they do at most operas. It could also be helpful to have surtitles describing the action taking place on stage. Or, maybe it’s best not to have them and not worry about the meaning of the words and just get swept up in the emotion.
As with most dance performances containing a wide variety of dances, some will resonate more with me than others. Here are my personal highlights.
V0 – V26
Choreographed and Performed by Elle Johansen, Lauren Curley, and Hannah Marks
Music by A Cloud for Climbing
The piece begins with three climbing mats upright on the stage. Suddenly, they begin to move and it’s revealed that the dancers have them strapped to their backs. Later on they remove the mats and fall on them repeatedly as if falling while climbing. This is a truly unique idea for a dance that is easy to follow and a great starting piece.
Choreographed and Performed by Terry & Jaclyn Brown (Spouses)
Music by Martin Gauffin and Elvis Presley
The dance begins with the couple toying with each other. They get in each other’s way in a comical fashion. Then, in the second half, their arms interlock and they can’t get loose as “Stuck on You” by Elvis Presley plays. They spin and twist around connected to each other. It’s a very cute piece that shows how this couple plays together through their challenges.
Performed by Efren Corado Garcia
Music by J.S. Bach
Rows of takeout boxes cover the middle of the stage. The dancer navigates his way through them without touching them. In the end, he opens one and finds a rose. It feels like this was his search for love. However, how can he know the value of what he has found if he didn’t open any of the other boxes?
MASC (part 2)
Choreography: Dan Higgins
Performers: Dan Higgins, Kaya Wolsey, Micah Burkhardt
Music by Perera Elsewhere, Entropy Worship, Luke Howard
This is the most artistic piece of the evening. The dancers appear in gold corsets covered in gold body paint from head to toe. It’s two men and one woman in an otherworldly place that feels like Atlantis. Towards the end, one man pulls the woman away and dances just with her, as the other longingly looks on while somber music plays. It’s a very modern piece that is very well executed and stands out as a great work of art.
To learn more about the Repertory Dance Theatre, visit their website here.