14 Fantastic French Composers You Should Know [Playlist]

Here are just a few of our many favorite French composers, from medieval to modern, that might be new to you.

VIDEO | Watch this Chinese opera artist transform into a Dragon Princess – in seconds

Getting into full costume and makeup to perform Chinese operas takes hours. You can see an artist from Chongqing Chuanju Opera Theatre transform herself in seconds.

Discover What Makes Tchaikovsky’s ‘Nutcracker’ Sound Like Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice

Conductor Scott Speck, who leads the Chicago Philharmonic for performances of The Nutcracker with Joffrey Ballet, explained what makes Tchaikovsky’s score as addictive as your favorite holiday treats.

Inside the Score: Adolphe Adam’s ‘Giselle’

Giselle is one of the most beloved Romantic ballets today, though the composer, Adolphe Adam, was known during his lifetime primarily for the 39 operas he composed. (Today, Adam is perhaps best known for his Christmas classic, “O Holy Night.”) Scott Speck, music director of the Chicago Philharmonic, conducts Giselle in performances with the Joffrey Ballet, and he took WFMT inside Adam’s score. Speck, who co-authored Classical Music for …

Lyric Opera, Blu Rhythm Collective Honor Slain Chicago Teen Kevin Ambrose with Song, Dance, and Spoken Word

Kevin Ambrose, a theater student at Columbia College, loved to perform ever since he was a child, explained his mother Ebony. “I kind of grew up on Columbia’s campus, because my mom worked there,” Ebony said, “so I also grew up around the arts and always loved it. When it came time for me to have kids, I wanted them …

This Breakdance Duet to Chopin’s ‘Fantaisie-Impromptu’ Will Send You Spinning

When Frédéric Chopin composed his Fantaisie-Impromptu, he probably didn’t expect for the work to serve as the music for a breakdance duet. But at Arabesque 2014, an international ballet competition hosted by the Perm Ballet Opera Theatre, one entry in the “modern choreography” category used Fantaisie-Impromptu for just that purpose. Fantaisie-Impromptu was written in 1834, but it wasn’t published until …

Why the Beats of Bomba and Plena are as Essential to Puerto Rican Culture as Beans and Rice

Arroz con gandules – a version of beans and rice using pigeon peas – is a staple of Puerto Rican cuisine. Because the dish is so affordable to prepare, it nourishes people from all walks of life and economic backgrounds. Bomba and plena, two forms of Puerto Rican folk music, have similarly nourished the commonwealth by uplifting working-class narratives and …

“Females Disrupting The Tap World” Explore Dance, Art, and Gender with New “Hansel and Gretel”

For jorsTap Chicago, a company that describes itself as “females disrupting the tap world,” dance functions not only as a storytelling medium but as a way to create safe spaces. The company’s latest project is a gender-inclusive re-telling of Hansel and Gretel created in collaboration with multimedia artist David Lee Csicsko. The original tale of a brother and sister who …

Harris Theater for Music and Dance Brings “Epic Masterworks” to Chicago in 2017-18 Season

The Harris Theater for Music and Dance announced some of the lineup for its 2017-18 Harris Theater Presents performance series, which features the Monteverdi Choir, American Ballet Theatre, and the Mark Morris Dance Group performing “epic masterworks.” In October, the Harris will present concert performances of Monteverdi’s three surviving operas, L’Orfeo, Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, and L’incoronazione di Poppea …

VIDEO: What New York City Ballet Choreographer Justin Peck Listens for When Picking Music for Dance

Renowned choreographer Justin Peck took a break from his rehearsals with the Joffrey Ballet at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago to explain what he listens for when selecting music to choreograph.

Lyric Opera of Chicago, Joffrey Ballet Announce First Collaboration with 17/18 Season Opener

Tuesday, January 17, Lyric Opera of Chicago announced that it will open its 2017-18 season with Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice, a new co-production with LA Opera, Joffrey Ballet, and Staatsoper Hamburg. John Neumeier, director and chief choreographer of the Hamburg Ballet, directs, choreographs, and designs the production, which also marks Lyric’s first collaboration with Joffrey. A Milwaukee native, Neumeier recently collaborated …

A Sneak Peek of Joffrey’s New Nutcracker Set During Chicago’s Columbian Exposition of 1893

This holiday season, the Joffrey Ballet has a gift for its hometown city: a world-premiere production of Tchaikovsky’s beloved Nutcracker that’s set in Chicago during the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. The new Nutcracker features an award-winning team led by choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, and replaces a production by company co-founder Robert Joffrey that has been in repertory since 1987. Here’s …

How Choreographer Martha Graham Named Aaron Copland’s American Classic, “Appalachian Spring”

Martha Graham Dance Company’s Lloyd Mayor and Mariya Dashkina Maddux in “Appalachian Spring.” (Hibbard Nash Photography) When you think of Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, do you think of iconic American landscapes? Would it surprise you to know that one of America’s most iconic musical works got its name after it was composed? Appalachian Spring, though perhaps known best as an orchestral suite, was …

The Politics of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet

When you think of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, you likely think of the two titular lovers and their tragic romance. But Sergei Prokofiev put politics at the center of his Shakespeare-inspired ballet, Romeo and Juliet, and got wrapped up in Soviet-era politics himself in composing it. In 1935, Prokofiev accepted a commission to create a new ballet for the Bolshoi …

Sono Osato, 96, Reflects on Dancing With the Ballet Russes

“I think I am one of the few American dancers who ever saw the Diaghilev ballet at the peak of its glory,” Sono Osato begins her autobiography Distant Dances. At the ripe age of 14, Osato became the first American dancer to join the Ballet Russes de Monte-Carlo, derived from Diaghilev’s famous Ballets Russes. With the company, she toured the …

Natya Dance Brings the Ancient Art of Bharatanatyam to Modern Audiences

Thousands of years before European ballet was born, Bharatanatyam flourished in India. The ancient art of Bharatanatyam seems to be having a bit of a moment in modern times. Months after appearing in Chicago, dancer Aparna Ramaswamy recently made her debut at the Joyce Theater in New York: one small step for a Bharatanatyam dancer, one giant, dazzling leap for Bharatanatyam …

Inside the Beautiful, Bizarre World of Butoh

One of the most unique styles of dance today is undoubtedly butoh. I spoke with dancer and choreographer Ushio Amagatsu as he tours across North America with his company, Sankai Juku. The New York Times called Sankai Juku, “One of the most original and startling dance theater groups to be seen.” Read our conversation to learn more about butoh, Amagatsu’s …

‘Sylvia,’ Rare Delibes Ballet, Comes to Chicago

When Tchaikovsky heard Delibes’s ballet Sylvia, he said, “I was ashamed. If I had known this music early then, of course, I would not have written Swan Lake.” Though many dance lovers are familiar with Delibes’ ballet Coppélia, Sylvia is less commonly performed. Chicagoans have the chance to experience choreographer John Neumeier’s version of Sylvia performed by the Joffrey Ballet, now playing at the Auditorium Theater. I spoke with …

5 Women on Being Modern Women in Dance

The 9th Chicago Dancing Festival presented its first-ever Modern Women program, highlighting the important contributions of women in dance both past and present: Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, Kate Weare, Pam Tanowitz, and Crystal Pite. Modern Women featured the companies that each of these women founded (with the exception of Crystal Pite, whose A Picture of You Falling was performed by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, instead of her own ensemble Kidd Pivot). …

Guggenheim Fellow Rudresh Mahanthappa On Creating Music that Defies Genre

Musicians today work across genres to create sounds that defy categorization, yet listeners crave categories. Saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, whose many awards and honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, has created sounds that defy categorization for his latest project, Song of the Jasmine, an interdisciplinary collaboration with Ragamala Dance that comes to the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago this weekend. Manhathappa was born in Italy to Indian …