American Ballet Theatre Returns to HARRIS THEATER – diverse collection of choreography

He is turning and turning, leaping and turning, jumping and turning and turning circles within circles and then just stops. Gives a look to the audience acting a bit dizzy and not sure which way is left or right and then starts leaping again. We all chuckle watching the stunning athleticism of the dancer mixed with the humor of the choreographer, Jerome Robbins.

American Ballet Theatre HARRIS THEATRE
Photo: Rosalie O'Connor

This is the fun with in Other Dances which was created in the spring of 1976 especially for Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov for a gala benefit for the Library and Museum of Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, New York City. The ballet was commissioned by Eugenia Doll and is dedicated to her memory with gratitude for the devoted tender loving care she extended to so many people and companies in the field of dance. It is a gift that we all now get to experience.

Set to the music of Chopin, this duet is filled with fun whimsical and flirtatious moments that are sure to put a smile on your face. As one dancer gets ready to exit, she gestures to the entering dancer as if saying “catch me if you can.” The choreographic style is classical compared to the other works on the bill.

American Ballet Theatre Showcases Female Talent

Jessica Lang’s Her Notes –this writer’s favorite of the program—was danced to the composer Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, sister to the well-known composer Felix Mendelssohn.

American Ballet Theatre HARRIS THEATRE
Photo: Rosalie O'Connor

Unlike her famous brother, Fanny was never encouraged to publish her work because she was a woman and it would lower her class in society. Despite this, as a highly skilled pianist and composer, she wrote over 400 works for the piano – the instrument that she had access to in her home. ABT choosing to feature female choreographer Lang’s work is analogous to choosing Hensel over Felix Mendelssohn, as choreography is still a male dominated field.

Lang’s choreography style blends together her love of architecture with dance. Chicago dance enthusiasts may remember when The Harris Theater for Music and Dance presented the world premiere of Tesseracts of Time; a collaboration between Lang and celebrated architect Steven Holl, commissioned by the Chicago Architecture Biennial in 2015.

In Her Notes, Lang’s choreography blends with her set design in a way that makes the set itself become another dancer. The dancers are in front and behind the screens with silhouette images and elegant dancing. The choreography was a blend of the classic era of Robbins and Balanchine, with the modern flare that surely stuck out above all the pieces.

I Feel The Earth Move choreographed by Benjamin Millepied was a step into contemporary ballet, and featured Misty Copeland.   The first section-- a duet—was filled with raw movement. Both Copeland and David Hallberg were barefoot. The bare stage with exposed lighting instruments helps put the focus down to the core of human connection through movements. The next several fast paced sections featured mostly all women with movements that were angular, sharp and the opposite of what we normally think is ballet. Set to the score of Phillip Glass, the dancer found the musicality and edginess that shows the scope and diversity of American Ballet Theater.

American Ballet Theater (ABT) comes to Chicago annually and they are must go see every time. To learn more about ABT visit the American Ballet Theatre website.

Up next for The Harris Theater for Music and Dance is Mark Morris Dance Group and Silk Road Ensemble performing centuries old love story, Layla and Majnun--Layla and Majnun is the definitive story of being “possessed” by love’ centuries before Romeo and Juliet; this work is the grandest retelling of the timeless classic to date March 16 at 7:30pm and 17 at 2pm and 7:30pm.


To learn more about the Harris Theater, please visit the Harris Theater website. Or, call the Box Office at 312.334.7777 for additional information.


All photos, including slider photos - by Rosalie O'Connor

Photo: Al Zayed

About the Author:

Ellyzabeth Adler is a multidisciplinary artist working in the genre of "Tanztheatre," weaving together theatre, dance, film, spoken word, and music. As founder of Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble (CDE) she has dedicated herself to forming partnerships with artists of all genres and generations to create unique, dynamic, engaging, and meaningful ensemble performances.Ellyzabeth earned a BFA in Performing Arts, with a minor in Broadcast Journalism at Roosevelt University. In 2000 she earned a Masters of Arts in Directing and Movement; as her thesis she developed CDE’s techniques for creating multidisciplined, kinesthetic, and socially engaging theatre.  She has created and/or collaboratively adapted, directed and choreographed 10 full-length works including: T.S Eliot’s The Wasteland; Ever Your Own; Edgar; The Yellow Wallpaper; This Is Not A Pipe; Bindis and Bruises; and Touch and Mirrors - one-act plays based on the work of the Persian poet, Rumi. She has also created and choreographed over a dozen concert-length works focused on women’s issues, the female  body, suicide, the human condition, and pathways to enlightenment.

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