Believe it or not, ballet is finally a homegrown form in Chicago: if you haven't seen Ballet Chicago in the last two years, you haven't seen how they're shaping a unique repertory highlighting works by artistic director Daniel Duell and resident choreographer Gordon Peirce Schmidt. This weekend's performances feature two of Duell's works: the pas de trois from Verdi Divertimenti and the world premiere of Improvisations in the Fifth Dimension, set to music by Mozart and Poulenc. Also on the program are George Balanchine's Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux--glittery, gorgeous, and a real technical tour de force; Peter Martins's Calcium Light Night, cool, clear movement perfectly suited to the theater (sit in the balcony if you can); and two pieces by Schmidt: By Django and The Sleep of Reason, a creepy, ambiguous trio set to music by Ravel. Every time I watch The Sleep of Reason it suggests a different, dark twisting of the human psyche; it bears watching, and watching repeatedly. The company's fall season continues next weekend with an entirely different program that offers two more works by Schmidt: the world premiere of In a Nutshell, set to Duke Ellington's The Nutcracker, and Divine Dissatisfaction, another puzzling psychological odyssey, this one set to the music of Chet Baker. Also on the schedule are Duell's Time Torque and Balanchine's Apollo--simultaneously as mythic and intimate as only a Balanchine work can be. Friday and Saturday at 8, Saturday and Sunday at 2, Wednesday, November 11, at 8 (special benefit performance), Thursday through Saturday, November 12-14, at 8, and Saturday and Sunday, November 14 and 15, at 2 at Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted. $27$30. 335-1650.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Peter Vanderwarker.