diving into our 44th season

Chicago, Chicago Human Rhythm Project Stomping Grounds Gand Finale

Welcome to the 44th season of the Dance Center.  I’m thrilled to be here, and have been enjoying diving into Columbia College dance and learning some of the ins and outs and ways and means of the Dance Center.

I’m currently reading Marmalade Me, the groundbreaking work by the late Village Voice dance critic Jill Johnston, covering downtown dance in the 60s.  Early in the book, she quotes her fellow critic at the Voice, John Perreault: “poetry breaks up the ordinary use of language to let more reality come through.”  This feels like a moment where we could use more of this kind of reality, and I think you’ll find it in our fall offerings here.

We’re beginning the season with the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, a joyful way to inaugurate the fall.  This will be the company’s first-ever, full-scale appearance at the Dance Center, and the program has been curated by the company’s artist-in-residence Dani Borak in collaboration with director Lane Alexander.  This ensemble of highly trained percussive dancers will be joined by musicians, including Reginald Robinson.

Next month, we’ll be presenting Reggie Wilson, with his Fist and Heel Performance Group, and their work CITIZEN.  I saw the work when it premiered at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival last year, and can still feel some of the sensations it provoked.  There’s space to meditate on the themes of belonging and inclusion, of citizenship and diaspora.  There are long, luscious solos from each of the dancers, giving time to sink in to the movement.

As someone new to the city, and to the Chicago dance scene, I’m thrilled to be here in time for next month’s Elevate Chicago Dance festival.  I hope you’ll come to the performances that we’re hosting on October 20 and 21, which feature Ayodele Drum & Dance, Hedwig Dances, Lucky Plush, Ayako Kato, Barak ade Soleil, ATOM-r, The Seldoms, and Visceral Dance Chicago.  I encourage you to check out some of the other offerings around town, as this is a rare and rich festival.  I think there’s no better way to get to know a city than through the art that is created there, and there should be much to savor whether you’ve been here for decades or only a few days.

I look forward to meeting you in person at one of our performances very soon.


Cloud Gate returns in 2017-2018 Presenting Series

Cloud Gate returns in 2017-2018 Presenting Series

Our 44th Season also features Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel, Elevate Chicago Dance, COCo. Dance Theatre, Doug Varone and Dancers, Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak, and Bebe Miller Company.

Subscriptions are available online June 5, and single tickets go on sale July 5 at the Dance Center, by phone at 312-369-8330 and online at colum.edu/dancecenterpresents.


Chicago Human Rhythm Project | September 21–23, 2017
Chicago Human Rhythm Project premieres new works by internationally acclaimed Artist in Residence Dani Borak alongside an eclectic repertoire, including works by Broadway choreographer and Emmy Award winner Ted Levy, MacArthur (Genius) Fellowship winner Michelle Dorrance, international rhythm masters Guillem Alonso and Fernando Barba, legendary tap masters Buster Brown and Eddie Brown and NEA American Masterpieces award winner Lane Alexander. In works spanning seven decades of the American rhythmic evolution, CHRP showcases the breadth and depth of tap and contemporary percussive dance.


Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group | October 12–14, 2017
Choreographer Reggie Wilson’s new work CITIZEN questions what it means to belong and what it means to not want to belong, inspired by the histories of iconic African Americans who faced prevalent contradictions and irony connected to individuality, anonymity, freedom and dignity in relation to their civic duties. A provocative dialogue emerges through a series of five intricately woven solos, layered with haunting footage that suspends time and place. Wilson, whose postmodern work embodies elements of blues, folk and African Diaspora cultures, works down to the marrow in CITIZEN, exposing isolation and the ways in which we make space for our communities and our countries without sacrificing the authentic sense of self and the legacies of our diverse cultural identities.


Elevate Chicago Dance  | October 20 and 21, 2017
This extraordinary festival of Chicago dance gathers choreographers from across the contemporary spectrum. Two distinct programs showcase the breadth of today’s new dance, featuring performances by ATOM-r (Anatomical Theatres of Mixed Reality), Ayodele Drum & Dance, Hedwig Dances, Ayako Kato/Art Union Humanscape, Lucky Plush Productions, The Seldoms and more. The Dance Center programs conclude several days of performances, studio showings and discussions across the city. Elevate Chicago Dance is produced by Chicago Dancemakers Forum, the leading area supporter of new dance development.


COCo. Dance Theatre | November 2–4, 2017
Virago-Man Dem is the newest evening-length, experimental dance-theatre work by Cynthia Oliver, whose company is making its Chicago debut. Virago-Man Dem is a nuanced study in masculinities and their multiplicities within cultures of Caribbean and African-American communities. The work captures various masculinities through movement, spoken language and visual design and explores the expressions particular to Caribbean and African-American black masculinities as they are performed and expressed by men, staged on male bodies, but designed and interpreted by a woman. Virago-Man Dem is based on the lives of the men performing it—Duane Cyrus, Jonathan Gonzalez and Niall Noel Jones—and asks, “How can a woman choreograph masculinity without resorting to stereotypes, but instead locate its nuances, challenges and ambiguities? Those very elements that black communities know so well and yet see rarely reflected in the culture at large?”


Doug Varone and Dancers | February 8–10, 2018
Celebrating its 30th anniversary year, Doug Varone and Dancers returns to the Dance Center stage for the first time since 2001. ReComposed is a visual dance creation inspired by the visceral imagery of American abstract expressionist Joan Mitchell and set to Michael Gordon’s explosive score, Dystopia. The company also performs the duet folded, set to music by Julia Wolfe, which explores the fragile and precarious nature of intimacy. folded is an excerpt from in the shelter of the fold, a cycle of episodic, stand-alone vignettes that examine the many forms of faith and belief, as well as the acts of coping, realization, choice and the expectations attached to it.


Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan |March 2 and 3, 2018
at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph Drive
Choreographer Lin-Hwai min’s newest evening-length work, Formosa, takes the homeland as inspiration for a work of abstract beauty born from land and lore. Using gesture, script, song and other elements from the island as raw material, Lin and dancers create a lustrous, transfigured sphere in which only the universal remains a playground of love and life, mediated by tragedy, hope and rebirth. Recorded music by award-winning indigenous singer Sangpuy serves as the soundtrack as the dancers stomp, sway, dash and dart. With unparalleled grace, they mingle in intimations of community, making tribal ritual and urban bustle seem as one. Luminous projected images of Chinese character typefaces, interlocked and overlapped, provide the stunning visual backdrop. Devoid of specific meanings, they merge in teeming thickets to evoke a host of imagery: mountains and rivers, earthquakes and tsunamis, ancient inscriptions, a black sun. They seem to imply writing as a precarious vehicle for memories, which blur and recombine at the whim of history’s wind. At the work’s end, a blue sea appears amid the characters, only to wash them away in the waves.

Subscribers get first access to Cloud Gate tickets. Mark your calendar: subscriptions go on sale June 5.

NEW: Process v. Product Festival
In the spring, the Dance Center conducts a two-week festival focusing on ways in which concert dance presentation can be a document of process rather than dance as a consumable product. Process v. Product invites choreographers, dancers, presenters, students of dance and audiences to consider and reflect on ideas around how and why the creation, practice and witness of dancing can be more than a product for paying spectators. Two companies are participating:


Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak | March 29–31, 2018
Shanahan’s world premiere ensemble work Of Whales, Time, and Your Last Attempt to Reach Me stems from her “ambivalence about being drawn, on the one hand, toward an addictive, robotic-like reliance on, use of and escape through smartphones and social media and, on the other hand, to an envisioned body and future more about fluidity than form. These two worlds have in common the ineffability of imagined connections: the first draw is rooted in technology’s invisible mastery of air and the second in the body’s invisible fluidity. In this push-pull, replicated around me in ways I fear, judge, avoid, despise and long for, my relationships appear to suffer, yet improve. My body feels strange, foreign, gripped with longing, yet full of potential. I am jarred when the beauty of actual sunlight suddenly seems like a virtual creation of this technological dominion.”


Bebe Miller Company | April 5–7, 2018
Dancing in The Making Room is a suite of new dance works based on the dynamics of adaptation and translation. Inspired by the writings of Gertrude Stein, Toni Morrison and David Foster Wallace, whose voices capture diverse cultural relevancies through their structure of language, Dancing in The Making Room looks at the syntax of movement—how we apprehend meaning through the juxtaposed dynamics of action and context in time and space. Miller is creating this work within an overarching collaborative project, The Making Room, an investigation into innovative ways of sharing the creative process.

Subscribers have the opportunity to design their perfect season before tickets go on sale to the general public. Join our email list to stay in the know about all the happenings at The Dance Center. See you in the theater!

Banner: Formosa, performed by Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan. Photo: LIU Chen-hsiang. Top to bottom: Chicago Human Rhythm Project in Push Past Break. Photo: ProPhotoSTL; Anna Schon, Yeman Brown, Annie Wang, Clement Mensah Raja, and Feather Kelly in CITIZEN. Photo: Courtesy of Reggie Wilson / Fist and Heel Group; ATOM-r / Mark Jeffery and Judd Morrissey  in Kjell Theøry. Photo: Grace Duval; Cynthia Oliver’s Virago-Man Dem Residency at MANCC 2017. Photo: Chris Cameron; Doug Varone and Dancers in Possession. Photo: Erin Baiano; Formosa, performed by Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan. Photo: LIU Chen-hsiang; Ben Law, Jessica Marasa, Kristina Fluty, and Molly Shanahan. Photo: William Frederking; Bebe Miller Company. Photo: Derek Fowles.