Dance showcases remind me of the saying about midwestern meteorological events: if you don’t like the weather, wait–it’ll change. Chicago’s Next Dance Festival, now in its third year, may not offer anything as exciting as a tornado, but it does promise variety and surprise. Occurring over two weekends, each featuring a different lineup, it’s meant to show off the work of Chicago’s “newest and emerging” choreographers, though in fact there are some relative old-timers on the list. This weekend Ruth Page nominee Winifred Haun & Dancers will improvise with several musicians and also perform Haun’s Six, One, Four, Six. Her work tends to be spare and abstract, but the festival includes lots of choreographers interested in theatrical spectacle. Frank Fishella’s Love During Wartime, also this weekend, depicts the drowning of 2,000 sailors in a naval-training exercise of 1804. Using text, billowing sheets, and an eclectic variety of music, Fishella explores the emotional terrain of grief. A near newcomer on the bill is Regina Klenjoski, whose Paired Down at last year’s festival almost percolated off the stage. Wild cards are Los Tres, who’ll perform two flamenco duets, and a piece featuring Cuban bolero music by choreographer Eduardo Vilaro, who moved to Chicago only last summer. Appearing the second weekend are Mad Shak Dance Company, tapper Lane Alexander, and works by independent modern choreographers Paula Frasz, Ann Boyd, and Christine Munch. Free preview Thursday at 12:15 in the auditorium of the Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State; call 312-747-4800 for information. Regular performances Fridays and Saturdays through February 1 at 7:30 in the same place; $10-$15. Call 773-278-6453 for tickets and information. –Laura Molzahn

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photoby Bill Frederking.