Jessica Wolfrum in Nejla Yatkin's Renatus
Jessica Wolfrum in Nejla Yatkin's Renatus Credit: Cheryl Mann

At 23, River North Dance Chicago is entering institutional middle age. But it’s still robust—and getting a shot in the arm from two premieres on its fall program, created by choreographers new to the company. One of those artists is Adam Barruch, who showed off his twisted Broadway side at the 2011 Chicago Dancing Festival, with a Sweeney Todd-inspired solo called The Worst Pies in London. Here, he delivers a piece for 11 dancers, I Close My Eyes Until the End. RNDC artistic director Frank Chaves describes Barruch’s sensibility as Barbra Streisand-meets-Pina Bausch; the fusion is visible in a mix of liquid movement and interlocking, thorny shapes, achieved and abandoned at breakneck speed. I Close My Eyes is set to two compositions by Icelandic multi-instrumentalist Ólafur Arnalds, the first moody, the second propulsive.

Recent Chicago transplant Nejla Yatkin contributes the lush solo Renatus (“Rebirth”), structured around a Puccini aria and danced by RNDC veteran Jessica Wolfrum. Combining exquisite articulation with the maturity to acknowledge emotion—not to mention the strength to wrangle a costume featuring a 30-foot train—Wolfrum is a great choice to interpret Yatkin’s operatic moves.

Completing the program: Robert Battle’s Three, excerpts from Sabrina and Ruben Veliz’s Al Sur del Sur, Ashley Roland’s Beat, and Chaves’s Forbidden Boundaries and The Good Goodbyes.