CHICAGO—Mature American choreographers are the primary focus of The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago's 34th season. Merce Cunningham Dance Company returns to the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park, while presentations at The Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan Ave., feature companies directed by some of the country's most innovative women choreographers, including Margaret Jenkins, Susan Marshall, Jawole Zollar (partnering with Senegal's Germaine Acogny) and Karole Armitage, as well as Chicago artists Michelle Kranicke, Margi Cole and Dance Center Founder Shirley Mordine. Subscriptions and single tickets go on sale July 5 through the new Columbia Ticket Center, 33 E. Congress Pkwy., Suite 610, 312-344-6600.
The Dance Center's FamilyDance Matinee Series continues for its ninth season, featuring special one-hour family-oriented performances preceded by free parent/child movement workshops with the artists. FamilyDance Matinees will be presented by Zephyr Dance (October 27), The Dance COLEctive (February 23), Urban Bush Women/Compagnie JANT-BI (March 8) and Mordine & Company Dance Theater (March 15).
To facilitate meaningful dialogue with Chicago audiences and artists, many of the season's artists will participate in DanceMasters, community master classes presented by The Dance Center's Community Outreach and Education office in collaboration with the Lou Conte Dance Studio at the Hubbard Street Dance Center, Links Hall and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Classes are for dancers at the intermediate level or higher. (more)
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In addition, discussions with the artists will follow most Thursday performances, and some programs will feature pre-performance talks with artists and Dance Center personnel or guest lecturers. Most out-of-town artists will provide learning opportunities for Dance Center students and conduct community-based residency and educational activities, which might include master classes, lecture/ demonstrations, in-school and community-based workshops, professional development workshops for educators and human service providers and panel discussions.
Margaret Jenkins Dance Company—Chicago Premiere
Performances: September 27, 28 and 29, 8 p.m., The Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan Ave.
Post-performance discussion: September 27
Post-performance reception sponsored by Newcity: September 28, location TBD
DanceMasters class: September 24 at 6:30 p.m., Links Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield, 2nd floor
A highly collaborative, multidisciplinary and environmentally influenced artist, Margaret Jenkins presents her company in the evening-length A Slipping Glimpse (2005), developed in India and the United States, also featuring dancers from the renowned Tanusree Shankar Dance Company of Calcutta. With music composed and performed live by the Paul Dresher Ensemble, the piece explores the intersection of private and public realms at a divisive and artistically challenging time in history. The Dance Center theater will be transformed into a theater-in-the-round using platforms of various heights placed in and around the audience. Prior to each performance, there will be an outdoor prologue at Daniel Webster Park, 15th Street and South Indiana Avenue (walking distance), at 7:15 p.m.
Merce Cunningham Dance Company—Chicago Premiere
Performances: October 12 and 13, 8 p.m., Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph Dr.
Pre-performance talk with Dance Center Chair Bonnie Brooks: October 12 and 13 at 7 p.m.
DanceMasters class: October 11 at 6:30 p.m., The Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan Ave.
Two programs span five decades of the legendary Cunningham's work. Both programs include one of the company's most recent works, eyeSpace (2006), an intense, precise piece that pushes Cunningham's use of chance methods in new directions, with audience members using iPods to shuffle Mikel Rouse's score for their own distinct experiences. Also on Program A are Crises (1960), in which elastic bands connect one man and four women, with music by Conlon Nancarrow and costumes by Robert Rauschenberg, and CRWDSPCR (1993), featuring nonstop, vigorous movement to John King's processed Dobro steel guitar score. Program B also includes Fabrications (1987), a powerful, foreign and almost surreal experience, and a MinEvent (2007), a collection of elements from the company's repertoire combined in a unique performance.
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Zephyr Dance—World Premiere
Performances: October 25, 26 and 27 at 8 p.m., The Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan Ave.
FamilyDance Matinee: October 27 at 3 p.m., free pre-performance workshop at 2:15 p.m.
Artistic Director Michelle Kranicke presents a new evening-length work, Just Left of Remote, with support from a 2006 Chicago Dancemakers Lab Artist grant, that will examine issues of aging and self-imposed isolation created by a more exact, clear, defined self as a result of aging. Kranicke and her dancers have drawn inspiration from Donald Judd's sculptures at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas and Edward Albee's play Three Tall Women.
Susan Marshall & Company—Chicago Premiere
Performances: February 7, 8 and 9 at 8 p.m., The Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan Ave.
Post-performance discussion: February 7
DanceMasters class: February 5 at 6:30 p.m., Lou Conte Dance Studio at the Hubbard Street Dance Center, 1147 W. Jackson Blvd.
Acclaimed by the New York Times as "one of the most significant choreographers working today," Susan Marshall employs virtuoso athleticism, ordinary movement and spoken word to reveal human truths. Cloudless, her latest work, is a collection of poetic short stories, 18 self-contained solos, duets and small group works. Familiar movement is wedded to a formal structure so that form and narrative become one, and the line between abstract dance and emotional story blur. The short-form narratives of pure dance, theatre and comedy are seamlessly integrated with explorations of lighting, set, video and prop design.
The Dance COLEctive—Revival
Performances: February 21, 22 and 23 at 8 p.m., The Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan Ave.
Post-performance discussion: February 21
FamilyDance Matinee: February 23 at 3 p.m., free pre-performance workshop at 2:15 p.m.
Under the direction of Margi Cole, The Dance COLEctive will reconstruct Written on the Body, which uses the lives of the Brontë sisters as a point of departure in its exploration of gender roles and stereotypes. The hidden identities of authors Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë, as well as the hardships they endured throughout their lives in Victorian England, provide the framework. Cole interprets the Brontës' masculine and feminine personas, using images of power, strength, vulnerability and intimacy, exploring how each attribute can be related through movement. The program also features Channel, a commissioned solo for Cole by Ellie Klopp, former associate director of Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, and a new work by local choreographer Colleen Halloran.
Urban Bush Women/Compagnie JANT-BI—Midwest Premiere
Performances: March 6, 7 and 8 at 8 p.m., The Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan Ave.
Post-performance discussion: March 6
Pre-performance talk with Germaine Acogny and Jawole Zollar: March 7 at 7 p.m.
FamilyDance Matinee: March 8 at 3 p.m., free pre-performance workshop at 2:15 p.m.
DanceMasters class: March 3 at 6:30 p.m., Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave.
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The result of a two-year collaboration that had its genesis during overlapping residencies at The Dance Center, The Beauty of Little Things combines the all-male Compagnie JANT-BI of Senegal and the all-female Urban Bush Women of the U.S. and their respective artistic directors, Germaine Acogny and Jawole Zollar. Representing two radically different continents, the collaboration, after creative development periods in Senegal and the U.S., culminates in a piece about the importance of place and community, urban and rural life and the diversity of the African and the African-American experience. The combination of Acogny's nature-inspired technique and Zollar's brand of contemporary dance influenced by black vernacular movement creates a unique physical vocabulary that is a cross-cultural exchange in itself.
Mordine & Company Dance Theater—40th Anniversary Season
Performances: March 13, 14 and 15 at 8 p.m., The Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan Ave.
Pre-performance talk with Artistic Director Shirley Mordine: March 14 at 7 p.m.
FamilyDance Matinee: March 15 at 3 p.m., free pre-performance workshop at 2:15 p.m.
As part of its 40th anniversary season, Mordine & Company performs Shirley Mordine's full-evening work Quest, a collaboration with scenic designer and media artist John Boesche and a score composed and performed live by cellist Alison Chesley (formerly of Poi Dog Pondering) and percussionist Davis Krieg. This three-part work is inspired by Jose Saramago's novel The Stone Raft, which explores the spiritual journey of six people following a natural cataclysm, the Iberian Peninsula's separation from Europe and its eventual return.
Armitage Gone! Dance—Chicago Debut
Performances: April 17, 18 and 19 at 8 p.m., The Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan Ave.
Post-performance discussion: April 17
Pre-performance talk with Artistic Director Karole Armitage: April 18 at 7 p.m.
Post-performance reception sponsored by Newcity: April 18, location TBD
DanceMasters class: April 15 at 6:30 p.m., Lou Conte Dance Studio at the Hubbard Street Dance Center, 1147 W. Jackson Blvd.
Christened in the 1980s by Vanity Fair magazine as the "punk ballerina," Karole Armitage, along with her dancers, marked a milestone in 2005. After 15 years of choreographing and directing ballets and operas in Europe, she returned to New York and launched her company, Armitage Gone! Dance, consisting of seven dancers from several countries with diverse dance backgrounds. The Dance Center program will include Ligeti Essays, a suite of concise jewel-like movements choreographed to music by the great Hungarian composer György Ligeti. Also on the program is Time is the echo of an axe within a wood, set to the music of Bela Bartok. Both pieces are designed by internationally acclaimed visual artist David Salle.
Choreographing Coalitions: Dancing the Other in the Self
Performances: March 7–30 at Links Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield
Choreographing Coalitions, co-presented by The Dance Center and Links Hall, brings together body-based artists who share a curiosity for art-making around themes of social justice and deploy their own
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experience as a means to reach across rigidly maintained identity constructions. Each artist in this month-long festival uses his/her own sense of identity as a means to try to understand the historical, social, cultural or physical circumstances of an other, tracing the other in him/herself. Recognizing identity as constructed rather than biological, this program, curated by Dance Center faculty member Peter Carpenter, hopes to reinvigorate a conversation regarding the possibilities of performance to act as an agent for social change within the dance community of Chicago and beyond. Participating artists include Lisa Gonzales, Darrell Jones, Gesel Mason, David Rousséve, Kristen Smiarowski, Denise Uyehara and Victoria Marks Performance.
The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, named "Chicago's Best Dance Theatre" by Chicago magazine, is the city's leading presenter of contemporary dance, showcasing artists of regional, national and international significance. Programs of The Dance Center are supported, in part, by Alphawood Foundation, The Chicago Community Trust, The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince, New England Foundation for the Arts, The Joyce Foundation, Crowne Plaza Chicago Metro, Chicago Public Radio 91.5 FM, Arts Midwest, Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, The Irving Harris Foundation and The Mayer & Morris Kaplan Family Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Illinois Arts Council. Special thanks to Friends of The Dance Center and Newcity. All programming is subject to change.
Subscriptions and single tickets go on sale July 5 through the Columbia Ticket Center, 33 E. Congress Pkwy. Suite 610. Single tickets are $24–28, with the exception of tickets for Merce Cunningham Dance Company, which are $20–50. Subscription discounts of 20 percent are available when ordering tickets for three or more performances. Single tickets for FamilyDance matinees are $6 for children 12 and younger, $10 for adults; a FamilyDance season pass is $18 for children, $30 for adults. DanceMasters classes are $15 each, $25 for two classes or $35 for three classes; space is limited. The Dance Center does not allow late seating at its performances. The theatre is accessible to people with disabilities. For more information, call 312-344-6600 or visit colum.edu/dancecenter.