Category Archives: Dance Review

Exceptional! Harvest Chicago Contemporary Dance Festival at Ruth Page Center for the Arts (September 22, 2018)

The Harvest Chicago Contemporary Dance Festival takes place over two weekends at the end of September at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts. 16 dance groups perform during the festival. Here is a selection of the best performances from the first weekend.

Jessica Miller Tomlinson Choreography – Speak to Me Only with Your Eyes

It’s ambitious to choose Led Zeppelin songs for a dance performance. Jessica Miller Tomlinson’s company is up to the task as the dancing matches the beauty of the music. First is Friends as a couple joyfully plays along with each other. More great dancing follows while Black Country Woman plays. Finally, a couple does a version of ballroom dancing with a modern twist during The Rain Song.

Theresa Bautista – I am a Pretty Girl

This is a piece with a message. It’s about a pretty girl who gets harassed everywhere she goes. A spoken word poem plays as Bautista dances out the strong emotions described.


Eric Mullis – Sherman’s Neckties

A dancer appears on stage in silence. Suddenly, a man plays a very bizarre and strange sound from behind the audience. It’s unexpected and causes many to jump in their seats. The odd sounds continue and several people laugh at the noises being created by a saxophone. At the same time, the dancer is making unique movements across the stage. It’s definitely the most memorable performance of the night.


Giordano II – Late Night Tales

Giordano II by Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth

Giordano Dance Company consistently puts on fantastic performances. This one is no exception as it is filled with skillful dancing and expert choreography by Joshua Blake Carter. See our many reviews of this exceptional company .


RE|dance group – The Biggest Wail From The Bottom Of My Heart

Just like their previous show, , this one is full of joy. The dancers move in synergy as they alternate lifting one another with delight. They bound around the stage with glee as the audience wishes they could go up on stage and join in the fun. It is a fantastic way to end the show as everyone leaves with a smile on their face.

Get tickets now for the last weekend of Harvest Chicago Contemporary Dance Festival!

Cost of a ticket: $25
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Quinn Delaney


Exceptional! Dance for Life 2018 featuring The Joffrey Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and more at the Auditorium Theatre (August 18, 2018)

Dance for Life is a fantastic event that brings together the best Chicago dance companies and the best dance audience. The proceeds go to the Dancers’ Fund, which provides financial assistance to dance community professionals in their time of need due to a medical issue. It’s a celebration of the dance community and its ability to care for its own. Here is a selection of some of the best performances:

Chicago Dance Crash – Freshly Served (2018) – Structured by Jessica Deahr

Crash3Ashley Deran

This performance is intense. It’s a structured freestyle. Thus, the dancers improvise within time and space restrictions and feed off the energy of the music and the audience. It doesn’t take long before everyone is clapping and the break dancing energy rises. On multiple occasions, the dancers pull of impressive feats that are met with gasps from the crowd. It’s modern and it’s fresh and it fits in perfectly on this night.


Giordano Dance Chicago – Tossed Around (2017) – Choreography: Ray Mercer


Before the performance, Nan Giordano is honored with a type of lifetime achievement award, a new thing this year. She humbly accepts as she thanks the Chicago dance community for all the help.

The performance begins with all the dancers sitting in chairs in a circle facing the center. They begin tossing each other around and moving about like a crazy game of musical chairs / duck duck goose. The movement is intoxicating and showcases the talents of this great company.

The Joffrey Ballet – Body of Your Dreams (2016) – Choreography: Myles Thatcher

12_Body of Your Dreams_The Joffrey Ballet_Photo by Cheryl Mann

The music for this piece uses a bunch of infomercials about fitness programs cut and pasted together in an electronic sounding piece. The dancers are wearing outfits that are a mix of workout clothes and tight ballet outfits while performing a mix of those two styles of movement. While at first it seems to be a form of pop art and fun look at exercise, it turns into a critical look at the current fitness industry. Within the Modern Masters program by The Joffrey back in February, it seemed a bit out of place, but it fits very well into tonight’s show.


Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre – Excerpts from Between Us (2016) – Choreography by Sherry Zunker


In this piece, the dancers are joined by live musicians on stage playing a soprano sax and a violin. The musicians are involved in the choreography as they move across the stage. At one point, it even seems like the sax player is a snake charmer controlling the dancers with his music.  It’s a very interesting mix of musicians and dancers that really shows how closely they interact.


Hanna Brictson and Dancers – My Darling (2017) – Choreography – Hanna Brictson

41 dancers take the stage wearing all red with white suspenders as “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers begins to play. They all move in unison in perfect sync with the music in the largest group of the night. When the song reaches a climax, so does the dancing. It’s a perfect match that is met with thunderous applause at its conclusion.


Hubbard Street Dance Chicago – The 40s (1978) – Choreography: Lou Conte

The 40s displays the joy in America after World War II ended.  “Opus Number One”, as performed by Ralph Burns, starts and the full company dances happily out on to the stage with jazz hands waving. The song has that big band feel and swing is incorporated into the piece with a lot of twirls. Alicia Delgadillo stands out displaying a big ball of energy and enthusiasm. Lou Conte, the founder of Hubbard Street Dance, has remounted this piece expertly and it exhibits the best of this troupe. What a joyful way to end the night!

Quinn Delaney


Cost of a ticket: $75

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A Celebration of Dance! Giordano Dance Chicago at Auditorium Theatre (June 9, 2018)

Giordano Moves – 2005 – reconstructed in 2017

This piece is pure jazz dance. It is expertly choreographed by the founder, Gus Giordano, and restaged by his daughter, Nan Giordano. Just like the original music by George McRae, it’s a mix of many people dancing at once and spotlighted solos. And just like at a jazz concert, the solos are followed by a loud applause by the audience. The dancing is incredibly expressive and it’s a great showcase of this company’s talent.

Feelin’ Good Sweet – 2014

Choreographer: Ray Leeper

To start the second half, Feeling Good by Michael Buble plays as the dancers move slowly around the stage. The lyrics slowly build: “It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life, for me. And I’m feeling good!” Then, the band comes in on the recording and the dancers burst to life. It’s an expertly choreographed dance to the song and the crowd goes wild. It’s an incredibly exciting performance and it’s a surprise that it is only taking place this night. It could surely sell out a week of a shows!

Wings – 1978

Choreographer: Gus Giordano

Giordano Wings (4)

The curtain rises and a gospel choir, The Bourne Family, is on the stage in all white. Shortly afterwards, Cesar G. Salinas dances onto the stage. Salinas retired from dancing eight years ago, but he agreed to return for this performance in honor of Nan Giordano marking 25 years as the Artistic Director of GDC. Despite this long break from performing, he danced as if he was in the prime of his career and the audience responded with thunderous applause. It was both a celebration of Nan Giordano and a celebration of dance itself.

Tossed Around

Catch Giordano Dance Chicago next at Dance For Life 2018 on August 18!

Quinn Delaney

Beautiful! Trifecta Dance Collective Presents In.Grained at Vittum Theatre (June 2, 2018)

Three elderly women, Mary Cox, Jeri Grein, and Donna Hennessey sit on the right side of the stage. To begin, they each stand up one after another to tell the story of their childhood. While they are telling their stories, music plays and dancers interpret their tales into movement. It’s a unique and great exploration of growing up in the 1940s during World War II.

Next, they all tell the stories of meeting their husbands and the courtship that followed. Even though this happened over 50 years ago, each of them lights up as they tell their tales. This was also reflected in the joyful dancing taking place with captures their excitement.

Lastly, the women talk about losing their husbands. It’s very emotional. They all talk about seeing signs afterwards that their husbands were saying everything was going to be alright such as a twinkling star or a seat number having special significance. The dancing truly captures the sense of loss and also the acceptance. Deek Buckins and Felicity Lyon Nicholson’s were exceptionally fantastic.

It all tied together beautifully. Don’t miss In.Grained November 9th at The Glen Club!


Quinn Delaney

Amazing! The Joffrey Ballet Presents Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Auditorium Theatre (May 3, 2018)

Although it shares its name with one of Shakespeare’s plays, it has nothing to do with the bard. This is a full ballet choreographed by Alexander Ekman about Sweden’s ode to the summer solstice. The world premiere was on April 15, 2015, at the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm. These performances are its North American premier.

To start, a man is sleeping on the far left of the stage in a small bed as the audience files in to their seats. When showtime arrives, an alarm goes off. After a few seconds, he reaches out and turns off the alarm. But he continues to lie there, not wanting to get up. This is a fun introduction that sets the scene for a fun show. Soon thereafter, he joins the festivities of the town. Everyone is celebrating the arrival of summer in a bunch of hay that covers the entire stage. They are throwing it around all in sync. It’s quite a spectacle to see. Later on, a huge group comes out all underneath a square canopy tent. Wherever the canopy goes, they all run to stay underneath it in a very joyful manner.

This whole scene is very reminiscent of the choreographer’s previous piece created for the Joffrey, “Joy”. It was part of Global Visionaries last May. In both pieces, Alexander Ekman mixes comedy and dancing expertly. He also is able to display happiness and delight so well on stage. Everyone has a smile on their face, from the audience to the stage.

Midsummer 5_Photo by Cheryl Mann

Photos by Cheryl Mann

The second half also begins with the man sleeping in the bed. However, this time, we explore his dreams. It’s a crazy and strange dream filled with headless dancers, giant fish, and floating tables. It’s wild, it’s bizarre, it’s modern ballet!

The singing by Anna von Hausswolff is fantastic. Her voice is so powerful and emotional. She is very well known in Sweden. Her album, Singing from the Grave was a top five hit on the Swedish albums chart. In addition, the dancers are phenomenal. Every single one of them is so graceful and talented and they all come together with style in this amazing production.

Get tickets now for Midsummer Night’s Dream through Sunday!

Quinn Delaney

So Fun! Matter Dance Company Presents Emerge at The Den Theatre (April 12, 2018)

It’s opening night for Matter Dance Company’s Emerge and the theatre is packed. A buzz is in the air in the intimate Den Theatre space. Eighteen pieces are listed on the program. Here are a few of the best:

Hide & Seek

Choreography: Ali Keirn & Lauren Nolan

Music: “Tap Dance” by Octave Minds featuring Chance The Rapper

This is such a fun song and the dance matches the joy. The dancers are all smiles as they tap dance across the stage and the audience eats it up! It’s infectious!


Quarter Past Three

Choreography and Dancing: Michelle Chorski and Patrick Justin

Music: “What You Do” by James Gillespie

The title is pulled directly from the lyrics. Also, the dancing matches the song perfectly. The couple displays a complex relationship as Gillespie sings “When the world turns upside down, you should blame it on me.” It’s a beautiful piece that is met with thunderous applause at its finale.



Choreography: Carisa Barreca and Niki Mahon

Music: “Ra” by Nathan Lanier


The music sounds like a fierce battle. The dancers are wearing war paint and holding thick sticks. The performance looks like soldiers preparing for war. It’s very well choreographed. Also, it is reminiscent of an Indian style of dancing called Raas.


Choreography: Patrick Justin

Music: Better Tomorrow by Tina Guo

In this piece, the two dancers are wearing blindfolds. They rely on touch alone to know where their partner is located. It’s a very cool concept and it is executed skillfully.


All Photos by Micheal Courier


Choreography: Carisa Barreca

Music:  Sky Mubs

In this performance, all the lighting comes from flashlights that the dancers are holding. They turn the flashlights on and off, spotlighting the dancing with light from all directions. It’s a complex piece of choreography, and the dancers met the challenge impressively.



I’m Me

Choreography: Carisa Barreca

Music: “Soy Yo” by Comba Estereo

This is a very goofy and fun song and they came up with a very fun idea. The dancers wear mannequin heads on top of their heads and cover up their faces. It looks like they all have very long necks and small heads. It’s quite a sight to see.

Listen to the full soundtrack here:

Get tickets now for Emerge through April 21st!

Quinn Delaney


Sleek! Hubbard Street Dance : An Evening of Alejandro Cerrudo at The Auditorium Theatre (March 24, 2018)

Off Screen

This is the first time that Alejandro Cerrudo has used text, rather than music, as inspiration for a dance. One of the dancers is spotlighted up in a box seat as she powerfully delivers a theatric monologue by philosopher, Alan Watts, about reality and dreams. The following performance involves them interacting with a large billowing silk sheet. Finally, to conclude the piece, another dancers comes out and delivers a solo lecture. It ends with the following line: “If you know, … the ego doesn’t really doesn’t exist, then it won’t go to your head too badly if you wake up and discover that you are God.”

Off Screen

3/22/18 2:00:43 PM — Chicago, IL Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Spring Season “Off Screen” by Alejandro Cerrudo © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2018

Silent Ghost

This piece features a trio of hauntingly beautiful songs accompanied by emotional and heartfelt dancing in couples. There is “For Now I am Winter” by Olafur Anolds (2016), “Familiar” by Nils Frahm (2011), and “First Watch” by King Creosote and Jon Hopkins (2011). Each of the songs transitions smoothly into the other and so do each of the dances. It’s modern, sleek, graceful, and expertly crafted.

Out of Your Mind – World Premiere

The monologue that started the “Off Screen” piece is used while the dancers perform. Later on, the song “It Starts Now” by Blond:ish plays. It contains the same text that was performed at the end of “Off Screen”. It’s an interesting way to tie together the two pieces. In addition, the philosophical nature of the words matches quite nicely with the artistic movements of the dancers and the music to create a beautiful piece of art.

HSD18322_674 Hubbard Street Silent Ghost

Quinn Delaney