The merry month of May is blooming with dance in Chicago. Audiences can delight in a colorful springtime bouquet of ballet, modern dance, and tap of all kinds, beginning with Jessica Lang Dance's welcome return visit with a new-to-Chicago multi-disciplinary story ballet, and wrapping up the month with Chicago Dance Crash's insanely fun annual dress-up dance event, KTF: A Night of Villains," and much, much more! Here are the top dance performances to see in Chicago this month.

JESSICA LANG DANCE presents "The Wanderer"

May 3, 7:30 p.m.  |   Harris Theater


After last season's world premiere of Tesseracts of Time, commissioned by the Harris Theater and the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial, prolific choreographer Jessica Lang creates a wondrous, romantic world in "The Wanderer." This contemporary story ballet features sweeping choreography, imaginative set design, and beautiful dancing set to Franz Schubert's moving operatic song cycle, "Die schöne Müllerin," performed live.

Hailed "a master of visual composition" by Dance Magazine, the Bessie Award–winning Jessica Lang seamlessly incorporates striking design elements and transforms classical ballet language into artfully crafted, emotionally engaging contemporary work. Lang challenges the collaborative process and excels in her unconventional collaborations.

Harris Theater  |  205 E. Randolph Street  |  312-334-7777




May 4, 5, & 6, 7:30 p.m. and May 6 & 7, 2 p.m.  |   Auditorium Theatre


Joffrey Ballet

Three striking performances: Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman returns to the Joffrey with his unique cinematic vision, humor and originality in "Episode 47."  Yuri Possokhov's dramatic post-World War I tableau, "The Miraculous Mandarin," set to the music of Bela Bartok, receives its Chicago premiere, and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, renowned for her improvisational skill, returns to the Joffrey with "Mammatus," her spellbinding take on a turbulent cloud formation.

"Sexy in an ambient way, embodying the impersonal attractions and repulsions that drive nature's never-ending churning," says the Chicago Tribune.

Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University  |  50 E. Congress Parkway  |  312-341-2310



jorsTAP chicago's "Gretel and Gretel: The Story of How Hansel Came To Be"

May 5–6, 7 p.m. and May 7, 3 p.m.  |  Fulton Street Collective


A performance filled with tap dance, artistic collaboration and a vibrantly creative atmosphere, the dancers invite you on this fairy tale journey through the woods. jorsTAP chicago can't wait to close out their fifth season of collaboration with artist David Lee Csicsko.

Artistic Director Kendra Jorstad says, "With Gretel and Gretel, the combination of an old school folk tale with a current topic, transgender identity issues, showcases this story in an accessible, enjoyable way to families.”

Fulton Street Collective  |  1821 W. Hubbard Street  |  847-942-8956



Ascendence Dance Chicago presents "Anarchy"

May 5–6, 8 p.m. and May 6–7, 2 p.m.  |   Theater Wit


Anarchy is a story told through a full-length dance performance. Premiering original work by artistic director Heather Carpenter and movement by Ascendence Dance Chicago company dancers and guest artists.

Featuring new works by choreographers Joey Hernandez, Kaitlin Webster, and Michael Artrip. Post- World War III, we struggle in the wreckage of our planet, stripped of any sense of humanity or normal way of life. Those who survived the apocalypse have created a new way of living known as "The Society" which is split into 3 distinct factions: the Government, the Resistance, and the Puritans. It is believed that one of the causes of humanity's downfall is time, because of this, the Government has outlawed and destroyed all tools of time-measurement. The only exception is a broken clock kept as a symbol of the Government's rule. . . . Yet there is one among the factions with a secret, a part of the past that could lead the Society into Anarchy, and be the key to saving civilization. Before humanity is lost forever.

Theater Wit  |  1229 W. Belmont Avenue  |  773-975-8150



Ballet Chicago celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the Ballet Chicago Studio Company

May 6, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.  |  Harris Theater


Serenade by Ballet Chicago

This season's A Platinum Anniversary program features a World Premiere by renowned Chicago-based choreographer Frank Chaves set to original music by Josephine Lee, Artistic Director of the Chicago Children's Choir, who will accompany the dancers herself on stage. The performance also includes revivals of masterworks by George Balanchine, and exciting works by Ballet Chicago Founder and Artistic Director Daniel Duell, and Ballet Chicago Resident Choreographer Ted Seymour.

Harris Theater  |  205 E. Randolph Street  |  312-334-7777



Hubbard Street's "Danc(e)volve: New Works Festival

May 10, 7:30 p.m.  |   MCA


Danc(e)volve: New Works Festival

Hubbard Street's fourth appearance since 2012 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago's Edlis Neeson Theater. Season 39's danc(e)volve engagement includes the latest creations by Chicago-based choreographers Julia Rhoads, founding artistic director of Lucky Plush Productions; three-time Princess Grace Award-winner Robyn Mineko Williams; and 2016 International Commissioning Project choreographer Alice Klock.

Completing the program will be the mainstage debut of Berceuse by 2016 Princess Grace Choreography Fellowship awardee Penny Saunders, originally developed through Hubbard Street's 2011 Inside/Out Choreographic Workshop, and set to excerpts from the opera Jocelyn (1888) by French composer Benjamin Louis Paul Godard. 

Museum of Contemporary Art  |  220 E. Chicago Avenue  |  312-280-2660




Rennie Harris Puremovement: ExelonFamily Series "RHAW"

May 13, 2 p.m.  |  Harris Theater


The "RHAW" show—Rennie Harris Awe-Inspiring Works—is an energetic, inspiring and breathtaking program focusing on forging new paths for young hip hop hopefuls and presents hip hop in its "RHAW-est" forms, while highlighting urban culture. RHPM's work encompasses rich and diverse African-American traditions of the past while simultaneously presenting the voice of a new generation and has continued to encourage young dancers by sharing their enthusiasm for hip-hop dance theatre.

Harris Theater  |  205 E. Randolph Street  |  312-334-7777



Ethereal Abandonment

May 13, 7 p.m.  |  Ebenezer Lutheran Church


The newest dance theatre project by Ellyzabeth Adler and Lucy Vurusic Riner. After 18 years as professional colleagues and friends, Adler and Riner joined executive director forces to collaborate on an evening length dance theatre work combining members from both Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble and RE|dance group. 

Set in a theater that once was an epicenter of life, art and community, Ethereal Abandonment, with a blended cast of 12 actors and dancers, explores the historical connections between the ethereal world that once was and the reality of what it has become. Through storytelling and physical memories, the people and stories of the theater in the ethereal world make themselves known to modern day explorers, who sense their hidden vignette stories.  

Ebenezer Lutheran Church  |  1650 W. Foster Avenue  |  773-561-8496



"Change the Story"

May 18–19, 7 p.m.  |   Hamlin Park Fieldhouse theater


A dance theatre concert created, produced and performed by Amanda Blair MacDonald and Sara Yanney. In Part 1: "Girl Messages" and Part 2: "When I Grow Up" the pair explore the kinds of messages they received and internalized as children, and how changing the story changes their experience in the world.

Amanda is a multi-tasking performer, educator, mother, wife and grad student. This project is guided by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Department of Dance Faculty in partial fulfillment of work toward an MFA in Dance. Sara is also a master multi-tasker who dances, choreographs, teaches and has just completed both an MFA and a GL-CMA and is currently pursuing a teacher certification in Alexander Technique. 

Hamlin Park Fieldhouse  |  3035 N. Hoyne Avenue  |  312-742-7785



Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg presents "Red Giselle"

May 19, 7:30 p.m.  |  Auditorium Theatre


Inspired by the story of Olga Spessivtseva, a famous Russian ballerina who portrayed Giselle in the original ballet many times. The story, which begins in revolutionary Petrograd, follows "the Ballerina" as she is introduced to the world of the Russian revolutionaries and caught between her art and the power of the Communists, who want to use artists as instruments for spreading their red ideology. The Ballerina flees to Paris and reprises her role of Giselle in the famous story ballet while also dealing with unrequited love, mental illness and ghosts from her past. Boris Eifman's extraordinary, expressive choreography and inexhaustible imagination paired with opulent sets and costumes bring this tragic tale to life.

Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University  |  50 E. Congress Parkway  |  312-341-2310



DanceWorks Chicago & Lou Conte Dance Studio: DanceChance

May 26, 7 p.m.  |  Lou Conte Dance Studio


Catch a one-hour event designed to offer opportunities for choreographers to show their work informally, create a forum for dialogue among artists, and build audience for dance. Inspired by the concept of open-mic night, DanceChance is held once a month and features 3 choreographers chosen by chance, each of whom has a 15-minute time slot to share their work. To round out the hour, the final 15-minute segment is a moderated meet-the-artist session providing an opportunity for choreographers to discuss their work and process as well as time for the audience to ask questions.

Lou Conte Dance Studio at Hubbard Street  |  1147 Jackson Boulevard  |  312-850-9766 



Audible Odyssey presents "Persist: Tap Dance made By Women"

May 26–27, 8 p.m.  |  Stage 773


In an art form where women have played second fiddle to men time and again for decades (and in light of a recent surge in women's movements of all kinds) PERSIST celebrates the unique, varied, artistic voices of six female choreographers including world premiere works by Kristi Burris, Megan Davis, and Patti Vickerman alongside returning audience favorites including Star Dixon's critically acclaimed Ultralight Beam.

From driving, pulsating rhythms to delicate, hopeful gestures, PERSIST promises to be another stunning example of Chicago tap dance excellence.

Stage 773  |  1225 W. Belmont Avenue  |  773-327-5252  



Chicago Dance Crash presents "KTF May 27: A Night of Villains"

May 27, 10:30 p.m.  |  Stage 773


Chicago's most famous audience-voted pro dance battle returns after a yearlong hiatus to a new venue, new drink specials and a setup that is right up in your face. This May's theme celebrates the wonder & joy that comes from villains . . . be it from comic books, movies, or real life.

CDC's longest-running production matches competitive dance with the energy of late-night theatre and the spectacle of sports entertainment, featuring some of the city's most accomplished dancers assembled for battle on the Stage 773 Pro stage. Combining the drive of competition with the energy of a rock concert, Chicago's ONLY full-scale, long-running dance competition welcomes all comers, from breakers and ballerinas to belly dancers and tappers. YOU decide who wins the golden KTF title belt! And of course the night will be hosted by the one and only Mr. Mattrick Swayze!

Stage 773  |  1225 W. Belmont Avenue  |  773-327-5252 


This feature is brought to you by, the definitive guide to Chicago's dance scene and your source for a full calendar of performances in the city. Read about all the dance highlights in the month of May at