If it was good enough for Jane Austen, it’s good enough for me. In an 1813 letter to her sister Cassandra about Pride and Prejudice, which had just been published, Austen said that “the work is rather too light, and bright, and sparkling.” One might say the same of the monthlong Dance Chicago festival–the “Opening Weekend” program (see listing) in particular offers the best of some very accessible companies. Many of these bright lights are also involved in the fest’s new Choreography Project, which has commissioned works by five choreographers to be set on three top-notch companies, most premiering on the “New Dances” programs. Ballroom dancers Gregory Day and Tommye Giacchino will create one piece and Lisa Johnson-Willingham another for Hubbard Street 2; Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago associate artistic director John Lehrer will branch out with a work for the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago (to be shown only on the “Finale” program); and Julia Rhoads of Lucky Plush Productions, a modern dance group, will set a piece on River North Chicago Dance Company. (Mixing things up has always been Dance Chicago’s motto.) The other programs this year are “Dance R/Evolution,” featuring revivals of classics (see listing); “New Dances,” which includes most of the modern selections; “Dance for Kids, Too!”; “Jazz Rhythms”; “Dance Slam”; a River North Chicago Dance Company series; and the “Finale” concert. Also new is an evening honoring dance critic Ann Barzel on the occasion of her 97th birthday; the hope is to raise funds for preserving and cataloging her collection of memorabilia at the Newberry Library. Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, 312-902-1500 (773-935-6860 for information and subscriptions). Opens Saturday, November 2, 8 PM. Through December 1: Monday, November 11, 7 PM; Monday, November 18, 7:30 PM; Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7:30 PM (no show November 5 or November 28); Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 2 and 8 PM (no matinee November 2); Sundays, 3 PM (and 7 PM December 1). $5-$25; group discounts and subscription rates available.

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