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Our three top dance picks for fall

Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, Lucky Plush's The Better Half, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, and more


Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago

Dance fans can feed their yen for fresh movement during Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago's fall stint at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. Titled "Passion and Fire," the program offers not one but two world premieres. The first, Alloy, by GJDC artistic associate Autumn Eckman, is a duet that explores how combination can create new strength. The other, Alegría, is a full-company work choreographed by Kiesha Lalama to rousing music from Rodrigo y Gabriela's 11:11 album. "It's about searching, finding, and accepting joy," Lalama says. Alegría keeps the entire ensemble onstage for most of its running time as dancers carve out an emotional journey in group, trio, duo, and solo sections.

Rounding out the program are restagings of five of the company's most acclaimed works, selected by GJDC artistic director Nan Giordano for their contemporary and progressive slants—and the fact that the dancers love them. Included are Davis Robertson's BeIngOne (2005), Jon Lehrer's Like 100 Men (2002), Eckman's Yes . . . And (2010), Gus Giordano's Sing, Sing, Sing (1983), and Del Dominguez's stunning Sabroso, a work in the style of Latin ballroom dance that premiered earlier this year. —Joanné von Alroth Fri-Sat 10/21-10/22, 8 PM, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph, 312-334-7777,, $15-$60.

The Better Half

Marriage gets a good going-over in this marriage of clowning and dance from Julia Rhoads's Lucky Plush Productions. Based on the 1944 film Gaslight, in which a man with something to hide attempts to drive his wife crazy, The Better Half is being created and directed by Rhoads and Leslie Buxbaum Danzig of physical-theater troupe 500 Clown. The story, Rhoads says, is ultimately "about resilience inside of contemporary marriage"—but the road there is filled with humorous digressions and metatheatrical layers. In the devised script by Danzig and the ensemble (which includes Rhoads and Danzig's own husband, Adrian, very funny as the married couple) an incomplete plot synopsis is mysteriously conferred on five performers, who then try to work out their characters. It ain't easy, especially when lighting and sound cues drive them in unexpected directions. A work-in-progress preview last February looked improvised but wasn't; the aim, Danzig says, is "to charge/wake up the whole idea of liveness." —Laura Molzahn Opens Thu 10/27, 7:30 PM. Then Fri-Sat, 10/28-10/29, 7:30 PM, Thu and Sat-Sun, 11/3 and 11/5-11/6, 7:30 PM, Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago, 312-397-4010,, $22-$28.

Merce Cunningham Dance Company

You won't find a better bet than this. The Merce Cunningham Dance Company will shut down in December, at the end of its two-year Legacy Tour, so the performances here are some of the last opportunities ever to see the master's own dancers perform his work. They manage to make even his bizarre Antic Meet (1958) look elegant. Set to John Cage music and designed by Robert Rauschenberg, the piece features ten "vaudeville" vignettes, including one with Big Bird-like dancers in poufy parachute dresses. Walking stiff-legged in profile, they bring their hands to their brows in a woe-is-me attitude reminiscent of Martha Graham—palms arched to follow the line of the forehead precisely. Antic Meet is joined on Friday's program by Squaregame (1976) and Quartet (1982). Saturday's bill consists entirely of Roaratorio, a major Cunningham-Cage collaboration from 1983. Cage's "Roaratorio, an Irish Circus on Finnegans Wake" includes sounds (birdcalls, a child screeching) recorded at Emerald Isle spots mentioned in James Joyce's novel. Barstools evoke the corner pub. —Laura Molzahn Fri-Sat 11/18-11/19, 8 PM, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 312-369-8330,, $25-$65.

Read our profile of choreographer Adam Rose or check out the rest of our Fall Arts coverage

Also this fall . . .


Regeneration Eiko & Koma perform Raven, White Dance, and Night Tide as part of their 40th anniversary retrospective. 9/22-9/24, Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago, 312-397-4010,, $15.

Constant Motion Original dances performed by Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre and Inside Chicago Dance. 9/24, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph, 312-334-7777,, $15-$40.

Body Against Body A repertory program by Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance. 9/29-10/1, Columbia College Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan, 312-369-8330,, $35-$40.


¡Mujeres! Luna Negra's program spotlights influential Latinas in works by Asun Noales, Ramírez Sansano, and Michelle Manzanales. 10/1, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph, 312-337-6882,, $25-$65.

The Flowering Tree Natya Dance Theater presents a world premiere featuring world music and traditional Indian dance forms. 10/8, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph, 312-334-7777,, $24-$50.

Don Quixote Yuri Possokhov's interpretation of Cervantes's Spanish comedy. 10/12-10/23, Joffrey Ballet, 10 E. Randolph, 312-739-0120,, $25-$145.

Dancing Henry Five David Gordon directs this interpretation of Shakespeare's Henry V. 10/13-10/15, Columbia College Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan, 312-369-8330,, $26-$30.

Tharp Hubbard Street Dance Chicago presents a world premiere by choreographer Twyla Tharp featuring Arcangelo by Nacho Duato and Walking Mad by Joan Inger. 10/13-10/18, Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph, 312-850-9744,, $25-$94.

More More More . . . Future Choreographer Faustin Linyekula leads a small ensemble in a reflection on the struggles of the Congo. Presented with poetry and live Congolese music. 10/20-10/22, Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago, 312-397-4010,, $15.

Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble's three pieces concern the poet Rumi, a soldier's life as seen through his sister's eyes, and a music from the movie Mulholland Drive. 10/27-11/4, Hamlin Park Studio Theatre, 3035 N. Hoyne, 773-486-8261,, $10.

Water Stains on the Wall Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan performs Lin Hwai-min's newest work. 10/28-10/29, Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph, 312-369-8330,, $35-$65.


River North Dance Chicago A mixed show presents David Ezralow's Super Straight Is Coming Down, a Miles Davis tribute, and a suite of Argentine tangos. 11/4-11/5, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph, 312-334-7777,, $25-$65.

The Matter of Origins Liz Lerman Dance Exchange combines physics and poetry for a multimedia dance performance. 11/10-11/13, Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago, 312-397-4010,, $15.

Global Rhythms 7 Chicago Human Rhythm Project presents stepping by Step Afrika! and performances by Ensemble Espanol Spanish Dance Theater and the Mexican Folkloric Dance Company. 11/26-11/27, Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph, 312-369-8330,, $25-$65.

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