Spring to Dance Festival | Preview
For the fourth year in a row, the best place to see Chicago dance is in St. Louis, Missouri.
Don’t let this issue’s slim Dance Listings fool you: It’s an excellent week for Chicago dance. You just have to know where to look and, oddly enough, that place is St. Louis.
Thursday 26 through Saturday 28, ten Chicago companies will take stages at the Touhill Performing Arts Center at the University of Missouri as part of the Spring to Dance festival. The host city is next-best-represented, with five participating groups.
For the past four years, in fact, Spring to Dance, produced by Dance St. Louis, has been the only way to catch a cross section of dance in Chicago. With each passing year, Dance Chicago’s winter lineups focus more tightly on junior groups and student ensembles. Summer’s Chicago Dancing Festival takes a global view, curating more around choreography than where its interpreters are based. The Other Dance Festival takes the temperature of the contemporary and experimental scene each fall; downtown groups aren’t involved and the stylistic range is narrow. Better 300 miles away than not at all, but seriously: Can we get a comprehensive, annual look at Chicago dance happening in Chicago already? And can we do it for Dance St. Louis’s amazing price point of $10 per night?
But I digress. Here are some picks.
At 6pm, the Touhill’s smaller Lee Theater presents four companies, all but one of which are from these parts. Catch an excerpt from the Seldoms’ Marchland and Same Planet Different World Dance Theatre in Badoom Boom. In the Center’s grand Anheuser-Busch Performance Hall, see Hubbard Street 2 perform, alongside the premiere of Songs My Mother Taught Me, by Michael Uthoff for Dancing Wheels of Cleveland, a troupe with some differently abled members.
It’ll probably throw you for a, uh, loop, to step out of the Touhill on Friday night and see the Gateway Arch, not the Willis Tower. More than half of the companies slated are Chicago-based: Mordine & Co. Dance Theater, in fine form recently at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, appears in the Lee’s showcase. Natya Dance Theatre, Thodos Dance Chicago, the Joffrey Ballet and Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s BAM! tap ensemble, in addition to the Martha Graham Dance Company, perform afterward in the Busch.
And on Saturday, there are 11 companies, Chicago being represented by…huh. None of them. Oh, well: It’s still the fest’s most geographically diverse day of programming, with performers from Spain (Paloma Gómez, outstanding last June at Ensemble Español’s International Spanish Dance Festival), New York City (Dance Theatre of Harlem, back from the brink) and Los Angeles (Helios Dance Theater) on the bill.
Chicago dancers invade the fourth annual Spring to Dance festival, at St. Louis’s Touhill Performing Arts Center, Thursday 26 through Saturday 28.