Everybody knows the two grandes dames of Chicago dance: the 50-year-old Joffrey Ballet, which moved here from New York in 1995, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, which turns 30 in 2007. Beginning next week Hubbard Street (866-535-4732, hubbardstreetdance.com) offers a program featuring a premiere by internationally known choreographer Toru Shimazaki (see Critic's Choice), and in October the Joffrey (312-902-1500, joffrey.com) performs the company premiere of Frederick Ashton's Cinderella.
But there's a lot more going on here, starting with a healthy festival scene. Dance Chicago (773-935-6860, dancechicago.com), running from early November to early December, has grown enormously: it started out in 1995 with a respectable 38 companies and individual choreographers, but by last year it had exploded to more than 300. All the acts are based in Chicago--and the roster includes everything from ballet to modern to jazz, plus ethnic dance, hip-hop, and tap. Each program features up to 15 pieces, making this a great way to see local dance. So is the five-year-old Other Dance Festival
(773-880-5402, chicagomoving company.org), a three-week showcase of modern dance running now. This series includes companies young and old that tend to be a little too outre for Dance Chicago, hence the name.
The Dance Center of Columbia College (1306 S. Michigan, 312-344-8300, dancecenter.org) brings in modern dance companies from all over the world, and at affordable prices ($22 for students); this year, between September and March, it introduces choreographers from Great Britain, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, and South Africa. The Museum of Contemporary Art (220 E. Chicago, 312-397-4010, mcachicago.org) includes dance in its even more affordable performance series ($10 for students)--this season, Liz Lerman, Barcelona's Tapeplas, Melbourne's Chunky Move, and the Martha Graham Dance Company. The Harris Theater for Music and Dance (205 E. Randolph, 312-334-7777, harristheaterchicago.org) hosts high-profile troupes, including Hubbard Street and the New York City Ballet this fall. So does the Auditorium Theatre (50 E. Congress, 312-902-1500, auditoriumtheatre.org), the Joffrey's home and this weekend the venue for Ballet Folklorico de Mexico de Amalia Hernandez and later in the season two Russian ballet troupes, the Kirov and the Eifman. Though prices at the Harris and the Auditorium can get high, there's usually a wide range.
The Athenaeum Theatre (2936 N. Southport, 773-880-5402, athenaeumtheatre.com) is home to the Dance Chicago festival and also rents to smaller, usually local companies--though with 1,000 seats in the main space, it's not a small theater. Link's Hall (3435 N. Sheffield, 773-281-0824, linkshall.org) is the tiny jewel of the Chicago dance scene, a bare room lined with closet doors on one side and windows facing the el on the other. But under the leadership of C.J. Mitchell it's gained a real sense of fun and adventure, featuring besides dance a puppetry festival in January and a festival focused on technology in February. Tickets are $10-$15, but box-office volunteers get in free.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Liu Chen-Hslag, Todd Rosenberg.