Historically, Chicago has been unable to sustain even one major ballet company, and now here’s a third. But this one is the charmer, the young upstart. Started two years ago by the husband-wife team of Mario de la Nuez and Meridith Benson and premiering last February with Giselle, it’s professional, ambitious, multicultural (with a large Latino contingent), and savvy. De la Nuez says he loves the classics and plans to make golden oldies a third of the rep, but the other two-thirds will be neoclassical and contemporary ballet. The troupe opens the second annual Dance Chicago festival–along with Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, Jan Erkert & Dancers, Joel Hall Dancers, and River North Dance Company–Wednesday at 7:30 with the second act of Swan Lake and a world premiere choreographed by Joffrey dancer Tyler Walters, Without Seeing Without Speaking, a work for three men and two women set to mysterious, foreboding music by Francis Poulenc. BTC’s own engagement continues Thursday, October 17, at 6:30; Friday, October 18, at 8; Saturday, October 19, at 2 and 8; and Sunday, October 20, at 3 with these pieces plus the pas de deux from Le Corsaire and James Clouser’s Surprise Symphony, a happy work for 14 that in rehearsal was indeed surprising and energetic, filled with sudden changes in direction, cranking motions of the hands, and the occasional finger pointed at a chin. Full of the traditional bravura of ballet, this sly dance also has a little fun with the form. At the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport; $15 opening night, $25 Thursday-Sunday. Call 935-6860 or 902-1500 for tickets, 337-5845 for information on BTC’s subscription series, which begins with these concerts and continues February 5-9 with Mauricio Wainrot’s The Diary of Anne Frank, a pas de deux from Les Sylphides, and the world premiere of Luis Fuentes’s Bizet Symphony, then concludes March 19-23 with the revival of Giselle ($60 for all three programs).

–Laura Molzahn

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Jenifer Girard.