After its dismal production of Hansel and Gretel two seasons ago, Ballet Chicago seemed on its last legs. But the company bounced back beautifully last year with a technically impressive, highly entertaining production of Coppelia. Artistic director Dan Duell’s trick to keeping his impoverished classical company alive then: hire strong dancers and borrow sets and costumes. The trick worked so well he’s using it again this year for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Choreographed by the well-respected Bruce Wells (who knows Duell from the days when they were both soloists in Balanchine’s New York City Ballet), A Midsummer Night’s Dream is full of dramatic elements that lend themselves well to ballet: humor, lust, magic. Duell has also brought in the powerful Johan Renvall, principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre, to dance the role of Puck, and he’s chosen strong dancers to play Titania, Oberon, and the lovers. And of course there’s Felix Mendelssohn’s lush, rich score, with his famous Wedding March at the end. Ballet Chicago is living testament to the fact that it doesn’t matter how you stage a good production. All that matters is that you do. For all its trials, the company is growing into a solid producer of respectable classical ballet. Wednesday through next Friday, May 17, at 7:30; next Saturday, May 18, at 2 and 8; and next Sunday, May 19, at 2 at the Shubert Theatre, 22 W. Monroe; $10-$40 ($300 for benefit gala on Friday, featuring postshow dinner and dancing). Call 902-1500 for tickets, 251-8838 for gala and other information.

–Maura Troester

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/William Frederking.