10 Dance Shows for Summer 2023 in Chicago

A plethora of opportunities to watch outdoor dancing lie ahead, in some cases, with the expectation of coming together! For those whose speed is more like a plush chair in a theater, The Seldoms and South Chicago Dance Theatre, two companies at very different but equally stellar points in their lives, are some of the best summer bets for exciting dance gigs. Here are our best summer dance moments:

Juke 4 Release: Links Hall’s resident curator, Chris “Mad Dog” Thomas, presents a three-part dance battle, album release, and hip-hop production aimed at unifying, affirming, and empowering DJs, dancers, and producers of the Chicago footwork scene.

  • Dance Battle is from 6 pm to 9 pm May 26 at Honeycomb Network, 2659 W. Division St.; free, more information at linkhall.org
  • The album launch and screening is from 7 pm to 8:30 pm on June 9 and from 3:45 pm to 5:15 pm on June 10 at Links Hall, 3111 N. Western Ave.; tickets $16-$42 at linkhall.org

The rare: The natural world is a frequent theme for artistic director Carrie Hanson, whose previous dance and theater work has explored climate change and glacial erosion, litter and grass (turf-like and Mary Jane-like). In “Superbloom,” the wildflowers are the entry point; As usual, Hanson delves deeper, with a team of top-notch multimedia contributors and layers of artistic interrogation into the fragility of our current global ecosystem, and the politics that surround it. 7:30 pm June 1 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph St.; tickets $20-$60 at 312-334-7777 and harristheaterchicago.org

Mandala South Asian Performing Arts: The annual Mandala Makers Festival is an expertly curated array of predominantly Indian dance, music and other cultural expressions, right in the heart of Devon Avenue. Begins at 2 pm June 4 and June 11 at Republic Bank parking lot, 2720 W. Devon; free, more information at mandalaarts.org

Kim Davis of South Chicago Dance Theater and Isaiah Collier.

Chicago South Dance Theater: Director Kia Smith’s star has risen at a phenomenal rate; the young choreographer and artistic director makes her Auditorium debut with a full-length piece steeped in Chicago jazz history interspersed with her own. “Memoirs of Jazz in the Alley” celebrates the life and work of legendary saxophonist Jimmy Ellis, who helped found the Hyde Park Jazz Festival and is Smith’s father. June 10 at 7:30 pm at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Ida B. Wells Drive; tickets $25-$77 at 312-341-2300 and teatroauditorio.org

Spanish Ensemble: This year’s “Pasión Flamenca” (part of a week-long festival of Spanish music and dance with a lineage of 47 years), features new works in the styles of alegrías and tarantos, plus the exciting return of guitarist Curro de María, whose collaboration last year with Spanish Flamenco maestro La Lupi left this critic speechless. 7:30 pm June 16 and 17 and 3 pm June 18 at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie; tickets $25-$55 at 847-673-6300 and costanortecenter.org

Joffrey Ballet: In a rare summer engagement, the Joffrey Ballet presents highlights from the professional company, academy, and community engagement initiative for a free celebratory concert in the park. 5:30 pm June 25 at Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park; free, more information at joffrey.org

Dancers Sam Crouch and Victoria Knox at Dance in the Parks 2022.

Dance in the Parks: Before Night Out in the Parks, there was Dance in the Parks, a veteran touring troupe that for 15 years has brought quality, joyous dance to every corner of the city, from Beverly to Evanston and from Kenwood to Montclare. July 10-28 at various locations; free, more information at danceintheparks.org

Summer Dance: This series of low-stakes, high-fun dance parties brings a wide range of social dances to neighborhoods, in addition to its main weekly events at Grant Park’s Spirit of the Music Garden. July 15-September. 10 in various places; free, more information at ChicagoSummerDance.org

Chicago Human Rhythm Project: Among the highlights on view at this year’s Rhythm World, the famed tap festival now helmed by Artistic Director Jumaane Taylor, will be the world premiere on July 16 of Taylor and the powerhouse Christina Carminucci; the can’t-miss casual jam at Jazz Showcase (which is scheduled to feature Dianne Walker, a key arbiter of rhythmic tap); and on July 23, an all-day multi-genre percussion dance celebration at Millennium Park. July 14-23 at various locations; free tickets-$150 in chicagotap.org

Dance for life: Chicago dance’s annual fundraiser for community healthcare needs expands beyond the usual suspects this year. Newcomers include Hiplet Ballerinas, BOOM CRACK! and Chicago Tap Allstars, plus Muntu Dance Theatre, returning to Dance for Life after a 16-year absence, all guaranteed to turn up the volume for an uplifting, high-energy evening and wonderful after-party. August 19 at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Ida B. Wells Drive; tickets $25-$500, on sale June 5 at 312-341-2300 and teatroauditorio.org

Lauren Warnecke is a freelance critic.