Chicago’s fall dance season to feature Ukraine’s Kyiv City Ballet

Before a horrific war broke out in Ukraine earlier this year and seized the world’s attention and empathy, a visit by the once little-known Kyiv City Ballet might not have attracted much notice. But there is buzz aplenty as the company undertakes its first-ever American tour Sept. 16 through Oct. 24, with performances Sept. 24 and 25 at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Ida B. Wells.

“We’re nervous and excited at the same time,” said Artistic Director Ivan Kozlov from Paris.

For its Chicago performances (auditoriumtheatre.org), the company will perform three works: “Thoughts,” created by company dancer Vladyslav Dobshynskyi; “Tribute to Peace,” by Kozlov and his wife, Ekaterina, and a trio of wedding pas de deux from such famed classical ballets as “La Bayad?re” and “Don Quixote.”

The Kyiv City Ballet arrives at the Auditorium Theatre on Sept. 24.

Courtesy of Kyiv City Ballet

In 2012, Kozlov was asked to assemble a group of Ukrainian dancers for a European tour, and he decided to turn the temporary group into a permanent company, boldly basing its name on the famed New York City Ballet.

The bulk of the 40-member Kyiv City Ballet was on tour in Paris when the hostilities began in February, with the rest arriving later from elsewhere in Europe. The city has sheltered these unwitting dance refugees since, with the famed Th??tre du Ch?telet providing rehearsal space.

Despite the dark cloud hanging over them, the dancers have stayed true to their artistic vocation. “For us, it’s very important to be busy right now,” said Kozlov. “There is actually no place to go except to work. We’re trying to organize tour after tour, so we’ll have a place to work and to perform as much as possible.”

Although the dancers feel fortunate to maintain their jobs, they are still far from home and have to deal with the day-to-day uncertainty of what might happen to families and friends who are still in Ukraine. “As soon as it is safe, we are more than happy to go home,” Kozlov said. “Home is home.”

Alejandro Cerrudo’s “It Starts Now.”

Rosalie O’Connor Photography/Courtesy of Joyce Theater

Sept. 8, “It Starts Now,” Alejandro Cerrudo + Artists, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph (harristheaterchicago.org). Cerrudo makes his first return to the Harris stage since serving as resident choreographer with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago from 2008 through 2018. The Spanish choreographer was appointed artistic director of the Charlotte Ballet earlier this year, but he will be represented here with his first independently produced project, which debuted at New York’s Joyce Theater in 2020.

Sept. 23-24 and Sept. 30-Oct. 1, Harvest Chicago Contemporary Dance Festival, Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St. (hccdf.com). This 12-year-old event is produced by Nicole Gifford, who leads her own namesake company, and Melissa Mallinson, director of Ology Dance. This year’s installment showcases Chicago groups like the Joel Hall Dancers and Hot Crowd Dance Company as well as visiting ensembles such as the Marquez Dance Project from Cleveland.

Sept. 29-Oct. 2, “Refraction,” Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Harris Theater (harristheaterchicago.org). Hubbard Street opens its 45th-anniversary season with a mixed bill featuring works by three widely recognized choreographers. These include “The Windless Hold” by Cuban choreographer Osnel Delgado and “Dichotomy of a Journey” by Darrell Grand Moultrie, who has created dance works for an array of top companies and collaborated with Beyonc?.

Kim Davis of South Chicago Dance Theatre.

MReid Photography, South Chicago Dance Theatre

Oct. 9, Music of the Baroque and South Shore Dance, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, and Oct. 11, Harris Theater(baroque.org). Chicago’s Music of the Baroque, a chamber orchestra focused on music of the 17th and 18th centuries, will collaborate for the first-time ever with a dance company during this set of concerts. South Chicago Dance will take the stage as the musical ensemble performs selections from German composer Michael Praetorius’ “Terpsichore,” a 1612 group of more than 300 instrumental dances named for the muse of dance.

Oct. 12-23, “Beyond Borders,” Joffrey Ballet, Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Upper Wacker (joffrey.org). Joffrey Ballet, Chicago’s largest and most widely known dance company, launches its 2022-23 season with a mixed bill. The line-up from past and present includes a new work by Chanel DaSilva and “Suite Saint-Sa?ns,” a classic by the company’s late co-founder, Gerald Arpino.

Donnetta “Lil Bit” Jackson of M.A.D.D. Rhythms.

William Frederking Photo

Oct. 13-16, Elevate Chicago Dance 2022, six locations including The Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 S. Michigan (chicagodancemakers.org). Ysay? Alma, Donnetta Jackson and Trae Turner are among the 30 area choreographers and companies who will take part in the third installment of this citywide festival, organized by the Chicago Dancemakers Forum. Featured will be indoor and outdoor performances, as well as workshops, panel discussions and in-person and virtual screenings.

Cloud Gate Dance Theatre performs “13 Tongues.”

Photo by Liu Chen-hsiang

Oct. 14 and 15, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan, Auditorium Theatre (auditoriumtheatre.org). Founded in 1973 by choreographer Lin Hwai-min, the widely traveled Taiwanese company reinterprets Asian mythology and folklore through a contemporary lens. Cheng Tsung-lung, who took over as artistic director in 2020, created this fantastical work based on his mother’s accounts of “13 Tongues,” a celebrated 1960s street performer, and his memories of Bangka, the oldest district in Taipei.

Fernando Rodriguez and Katie Rafferty of Giordano Dance Chicago

Todd Rosenberg

Oct. 21 and 22, Giordano Dance Chicago, Harris Theater (harristheaterchicago.org). Giordano Dance Chicago, one of this country’s oldest jazz-dance companies, marks its 60th anniversary in 2023. Under the artistic leadership of Nan Giordano, the daughter of the company’s founder, it will open its celebratory season with a new work by Cesar Salinas, Giordano’s associate artistic director, and other selections from the company’s repertoire.

Oct. 27-28, “The Rite of Spring/common ground[s],” Harris Theater, co-production of the Pina Bausch Foundation, Ecole des Sables, and Sadler’s Wells (harristheaterchicago.org). Few names are more iconic in the history of modern dance than Pina Bausch (1940-2009), who gained international renown with her stylized, expressionist brand of dance theater. A group of dancers from 14 West African countries will revive Bausch’s milestone 1975 work, “The Rite of Spring,” and dancer-choreographers Germaine Acogny and Malou Airaudo, a Bausch acolyte, will perform “common ground[s],” a duet they created exploring their shared experiences.

Nov. 5, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, Auditorium Theatre (auditoriumtheatre.org). Deeply Rooted recently marked its 25th anniversary as one of Chicago’s top dance companies, with a distinctive contemporary style that melds ballet and modern dance with African and African American dance. The 10-member company will present a program mixing existing repertoire with new works.

Joshua Francique and Rebekah Kuczma of Deeply Deeply Rooted Dance Theater in “Episodes.”

Ken Carl

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