City’s dance card: Big steps forward

September 18, 2011
Chicago Sun-Times
Hedy Weiss


It is a given by now: Chicago is fast becoming a major center of dance, with both homegrown and imported companies on stages large and small. The audience of 10,000 that filled Millennium Park for this summer’s Chicago Dancing Festival finale, and the 3,800 fans who packed the Auditorium Theatre for Dance for Life a week earlier, were certainly solid proof of this.

Additional evidence comes in the form of the planned spring 2012 engagement of the Paris Opera Ballet (at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance), and at the Auditorium Theatre, visits by American Ballet Theatre (which has made a multiyear commitment to Chicago); the return of Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company, and the annual Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre season.

Every bit as important is the increasingly impressive work of many Chicago-based companies. (Visit for a continually updated calendar of all their activities.) This proliferation of ensembles and independent dance artists is reminiscent of the earliest explosion of the theater scene here, and it suggests dance might very well follow a similar trajectory.

Following is a glimpse of some of the more intriguing offerings on the fall schedule:

Joffrey Ballet in “Don Quixote,” Oct. 12-23 at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress: In his “re-imagined” full-length ballet about that aging, chivalrous nobleman who battled windmills and conjured an elaborate fantasy life, choreographer (and former Bolshoi Ballet star) Yuri Possokhov will give us all the characters from the 19th century Petipa original. But he also will let us experience the story from Don Quixote’s perspective, with help from set and lighting designer Jack Mehler, animated projections by Wendell Harrington and a life-size animated puppet of Don Quixote’s horse, created by Chicago puppeteer Cynthia Von Orthal. The Chicago Sinfonietta will play the Minkus score. Tickets: (312) 386-8905 or visit