Mark Morris's Pacific Credit: Prudence Upton

To celebrate the 35th anniversary of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s MacArthur Fellowships, commonly referred to as “genius grants,” the Harris Theater will open its doors Friday for An Evening of Dance With MacArthur Fellows, a free performance that features work from a handful of dance-world geniuses: Merce Cunningham, Mark Morris, Susan Marshall, Kyle Abraham, and Michelle Dorrance.

The marquee lineup comprises five pieces, two more recent of which should have your attention. Abraham’s Dearest Home is a multimedia work in progress that features solos and duets inspired by the choreographer’s interactions with people of different age groups and subcultures. This compositional process is in keeping with Abraham’s penchant for stressing the diversity of humanity, which tends to be revealed in his work through equal parts fluid movement and raw aggression. The finished product is set to debut in fall 2017; the excerpts on this program will be performed by the choreographer’s troupe,

Dorrance, a tap artist, is known for defying the conventional norms of the form. Boards and Chains, a piece she developed with Nicholas Young, is titled quite literally: on wooden boards topped with thin metal grates, two tap dancers generate a series of syncopated rhythms while manipulating real chains. It will be performed by her company, Dorrance Dance (which returns to Chicago November 4 through 6 for performances of the EDM-inspired work ETM: Double Down at the MCA).

Rounding out the program are Susan Marshall’s Kiss, performed by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago; Merce Cunningham’s Springweather and People, performed by Erin Dowd and Forrest Hersey; and Mark Morris’s Pacific, performed by Mark Morris Dance Group.  

An Evening of Dance With MacArthur Fellows Fri 9/16, 7:30 PM, Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph, 312-334-7777,, free.