Joffrey Ballet Romeo and Juliet

Heated politics take the stage in October, but the presidential debates aren't the only arena for political discourse. Dance theater offers graphic interpretation of a variety of highly charged political issues in several major productions this month, from Joffrey's production of Krzysztof Pastor's reimagining of Romeo and Juliet to The Seldoms' hackstory The Fifth, and Nora Chipaumire's examination of black maleness. 


Romeo and Juliet // October 13–23 at Auditorium Theatre


If you didn't catch the Joffrey Ballet in Krzysztof Pastor's critically acclaimed reimagining of Romeo and Juliet in 2014, or even if you did, you won't want to miss this unforgettable depiction of Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers as they fight against a 20th-century Italian society awash in political strife and war. Rendering Prokofiev's heart wrenchingly beautiful score to contemporary relevance, along with historic film footage, Pastor sends his fated pair across the political turmoil of three separate time periods, portraying an impossible love at its most defiant. (Auditorium Theatre, October 13–23)

Insider tip: If you're a fan of all things Shakespeare, be sure to check out Shakespeare 400 Chicago, a yearlong citywide celebration of works by 1,000 artists across all disciplines (dance, culinary arts, theater) and from all around the world.


The Fifth performed by the Seldoms // October 13–15 at the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago


The Seldoms, always at the cutting edge of political theatre, presents its first ever commission of a full-length work by an ensemble member. Philip Elson's The Fifth, pulls the curtain back on cyberspace in a highly charged multi-media dance experience, exposing the players in the newest domain of war.

The Fifth bears Elson's signature movement language full of vigorous geometry, quick direction changes, evocative imagery, and complex physical exchanges between dancers- using elasticized bands that connect and complicate relationships.

The Fifth was the first project to be supported within a pilot Production Residency program at the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago with support from T]the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation. (The Dance Center of Columbia College, October 13–15)


Choreographer-performer Nora Chipaumire // October 20–22 at the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago


Nora Chipaumire

The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago also welcomes choreographer-performer Nora Chipaumire with her most recent artistic investigation of the black body, Africa and the self, portrait of myself as my father ("father" is crossed out in the title), co-commissioned by the Dance Center.

Performed by Chipaumire, Senegalese dancer Kaolack (who danced with Compagnie Jant-Bi for many years) and Shamar Watt, the evening-length "portrait" considers the African male through the lens of cultural traditions, colonialism, Christianity, liberation struggles—and how these ideas might impact the African family and society on a global scale. portrait is timely in its examination of black maleness as it asks, "What is it about the male body, which happens to be black, that we are afraid of?"

The work takes place within a boxing ring and invites the audience to sit close as well as at a distance in witnessing the performance. (The Dance Center of Columbia College, October 20–22)


Giordano Dance Chicago's New Fall Program // October 28–29 at Harris Theater


Giordano Dance Chicago may not have a political agenda, but you won't want to miss its fall engagement with the debut of an exciting new full company work by choreographer Peter Chu (So You Think You Can Dance). In addition to Chu's new work, the program will include three revivals plus two favorites from GDC's acclaimed repertoire. (October 28–29, Harris Theater) 

  • Yes, And... (2010) by Autumn Eckman [Revival]. The choreography for this high energy contemporary jazz dance work was inspired by the theater/comedy improv exercise of building off of surprises and boasts a cast of 16 dancers.
  • Sam Watson's Hi Jinks (1998) [Revival] is an entertainingly goofy tribute to ‘60s TV shows.
  • Jon Lehrer's Cesura (2000) [Revival]. The word cesura is Latin for "a brief pause or interruption." This provocative duet examines a "can't live with, can't live without" relationship.
  • Shirt Off My Back (2015). Award-winning choreographer Ray Mercer's work explores the inherent sacrifices people make as they enter into a relationship.
  • Kiesha Lalama's Alegría (2011). This full company work uses jazz, modern, contemporary and ballet movement to examine the universal human experience of searching, finding and ultimately accepting joy.

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 top picks for the month at