Dance Chicago makes my head hurt–something to do with the monthlong festival’s eight programs featuring more than 200 local companies and independent choreographers. The “Opening Weekend” slate alone includes five premieres by five dancer-choreographers, none of them working with their home-base troupes. Dance Chicago artistic director and cofounder John Schmitz, who’s perpetrated this crime–er, conferred this benefit on us–as part of the Dance Chicago Choreography Project, says in supposed explanation of all the confusion, “I want to challenge both the choreographers and the companies to work outside their comfort zones.” Saturday and Sunday you can see the results when River North Chicago Dance Company presents pieces by Paul Christiano and Julia Rhoads, dancers from the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago offer works by Altin Naska and Lauri Stallings, Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago performs a piece by Cheryl Mann, and Melissa Thodos & Dancers debut a work by Lisa Johnson Willingham. Also on the “Opening Weekend” program–Dance Chicago shows are never short–are ballroom dancers Gregory Day and Tommye Giacchino, Hubbard Street 2, Lucky Plush Productions, and the Trinity Irish Dance Company. The other programs are “Encore!,” a new offering featuring works performed at Dance Chicago in previous years; four performances of “Dance for Kids, Too!”; two lineups of “Jazz Rhythms”; “Dance Slam,” in which some 50 troupes–25 at each performance–compete for the audience’s approval; “New Dances,” which features five different bills of mostly modern dance; River North Chicago Dance Company in its annual city engagement; and the “Finale” performances. Whew. Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, 312-902-1500 for tickets; 773-935-6860 for subscriptions (up to 40 percent off) and information. “Opening Weekend” performances are Saturday, November 1, 8 PM, and Sunday, November 2, 3 PM. Dance Chicago continues through November 30: Tuesdays, November 11 and 18, Wednesdays, November 12 and 19, and Thursdays, November 13 and 20, 7:30 PM; Fridays, 8 PM (no show October 31); Saturdays, 2 and 8 PM (no matinee November 2); and Sundays, 3 PM (plus a 7 PM show November 30). $5-$25.

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