January is a month of new promises and charging forward, but we must not forget to look back to the history and tradition of dance that have built the path for coming attractions.
Dance is moving full force ahead with works being presented that look back to tradition, choreographers who are redefining what dance means and physicality that narrates meaning through the body. So much of what is happening in our culture and the world around us can be seen through the movement being presented on stages across Chicago. Already promising to be a great year for dance, January has several note worthy performances happening that are well worth the trek through the cold Chicago weather. Here is a look at the tradition and new creation happening among us, with a glance at a few companies doing great things this month:
Cloud Gate Dance Theater of Taiwan is a visually stunning dance company that brings together Eastern and Western themes, styles and dance forms. Named Cloud Gate for the ritual dance of 5,000 years ago that is, according to legend, the oldest known dance form in China. The company strives to give age-old beliefs and stories a contemporary and universal twist through their dances. The dancers in Cloud Gate receive training in Tai Chi, mediation, martial arts, modern dance, ballet and calligraphy. The result is movement that showcases control, beauty and strength as well as choreography rich with history and meaning. In the Chicago premiere of the work Moon Water, Artistic Director Lin Hwai-min provides a metaphor for Taoist philosophy through eloquently performed movement. Part of the wonder of this work is the use of reflection, including mirrors hung over the dancers and water that floods the stage near the end of the dance. An interesting parallel lies in another Cloud Gate that can be seen in the Chicago landmark bearing the same name as the dance company. This art piece by Anish Kapoor ( commonly referred to as the Bean ) found in Millennium Park bears the same themes of reflection as Moon Water. Its gleaming metal structure provides a chance to see the city skyline in a new perspective, and perhaps Cloud Gate Dance Theater will provide a new perspective of movement on the stage.
The shows will take place Friday-Saturday, Jan. 22-23, at 8 p.m. at Harris Theater for Music and Dance at Millennium Park, 205 E. Randolph. Tickets are $30-65; call 312-369-8330 or visit colum.edu/dancecenter.
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo ( known as the Trocks ) provide an entertaining view of dance works through parody and en travesti. An all-male ballet company founded in 1974, the Trocks revisit well-known modern dances and ballet with their own twist of humor and splendor. Originating in the late, late shows in the off-off Broadway lofts, this company has now performed in over 500 cities in 33 countries all over the world. Also showcasing some original works, the Trocks are highly trained dancers who bring the love of dance to all who view their work. Covering everything from classical ballet to post modern movement, the Trocks provide a diverse journey through the world of dance. The program for their visit to the Harris includes renditions of Act II of Swan Lake and a Merce Cunningham essay turned to movement. This is a one-night-only event that will be sure to entertain and inspire.
The event will take place Wed., Jan. 27, at 7:30 p.m. at Harris Theater for Music and Dance at Millennium Park, 205 E. Randolph. Tickets are $45-$75; call 312-334-7777 or visit HarrisTheaterChicago.org .
The Dance COLEctive is a local Chicago modern-dance company that works to challenge assumptions about how dance is presented. This all-female dance company was formed in 1996 by Artistic Director Margi Cole, and has since showcased many talented dancers, choreographers and other artists in collaboration with The Dance COLEctive. With this company you can expect a raw and vibrant physicality coupled with an investigation of pertinent topics and stories through movement. They actively work to show dance across the community through site-specific works, participation in a variety of festivals and self-produced concerts. The Dance COLEctive will kick off its 14th season with a show at the Ruth Page Center entitled Meet Me There. This evening of dance showcases works by Cole, Jeff Hancock and Shirley Mordine, with two world premieres by Cole. One of the premieres, in collaboration with Hancock, explores the Me/I generation and looks at questions of personal boundary and identity as they relate to and define our relationships to each other. The Dance COLEctive is a smart and innovative representation of what dance should be, and a visit to its world will leave you both educated and entertained.
The performances will run Thursday-Saturday, Jan. 28-30, at 8 p.m. at Ruth Page Center, 1016 N. Dearborn. Tickets are $18-$22; call 773-604-8452 or visit www.dancecolective.com .
Look for the winter dance preview in the Jan. 20 issue, with a full rundown of what's soon to come in the Chicago dance community.