Ben Law and Jessica Marasa
Ben Law and Jessica Marasa Credit: William Frederking

This remarkable—and affordable!—two-night festival, presented by Chicago Moving Company, showcases a dozen young local dance makers exploring the fertile zone between composition and improvisation. A hundred iterations might yield a surprise as small and simple as a new quality in the raising of a hand—but that can be plenty. Some highlights from the two programs, each of which will feature work by six different artists:

Jason Torres Hancock’s four performers (Thu 7/24) seem to have a special reverence for gifts from the improv muse; before one rehearsal, when Torres Hancock warned them to close windows against birds, a dancer piped up “Could be a compositional element.” The structured improvisation of his two-part piece set to recordings of Gertrude Stein shows flashes of wit, as when one dancer greets Stein’s question “Would he like it?” with a vigorous shimmy.

In Jessica Marasa’s Make Ends Meet (Fri 7/25), she and partner Ben Law bubble up from the floor like a time-lapse video of an island forming; Marasa then stirs like she has lava in her hips—hot but innocent, the way a volcano is innocent. Rolling her eyes with her whole sassy head, she looks like she’d as soon split the world open at its belly as eat a slice of cherry pie.

And in Bang Bang (Thu 7/24), Joanna Furnans’s optical illusion of a duet set to Nancy Sinatra’s 1966 single, Furnans is a little girl and her male partner—gliding dreamily alongside her, never looking at her, never touching her—is her mirror image, a genius compositional idea that makes you beg them to make first contact.