A performance at the Chicago International Salsa Congress. (Courtesy of Chicago International Salsa Congress)

The 22nd Chicago International Salsa Congress, a four-night, three-day event, kicks off Thursday with three free beginner dance workshops teaching salsa, bachata and rueda casino.

Step Afrika! dancers perform. (Courtesy of Step Afrika!)

From the obvious to the obscure, we’ve pulled together a rundown of promising arts and culture events to stir the senses in the new year. 

Taylor Ramos, left, and Emani Drake in “Vespers.” (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

In addition to the bravura performances of its dancers, the exuberant works of a number of different choreographers and the excellent group of musicians that gathered for its grand finale, the company attracted an impressively vast, immensely enthusiastic audience.

Ale Gabino and David Acevedo, owners of the Hōkūle’a Academy of Polynesian Arts. (WTTW News)

Ale Gabino and David Acevedo are both lifelong dancers. After meeting at a 2003 Polynesian dance competition in Hilo, Hawaii, they married in 2009. A year later, they opened Hōkūle’a Academy of Polynesian Arts, where together, they teach their other great love – Polynesian culture and dance.

“It Starts Now” by choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo was performed at the Harris Theater in Chicago on Sept. 8, 2022. (Credit: Kyle Flubacker)

It Starts Now is not an easy work to describe. It is a transfixing physical manifestation of human existence  epic in its emotional tension, its simultaneously real and mystical aura and its remarkable dancing.

Chicago Dance Crash. (Credit: Ashley Deran)

Both events served as the latest vivid illustration of why 2022 has rightly been designated “The Year of Chicago Dance.”

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performs Robert Battle’s “Mass” on March 2, 2022. (Credit: Paul Kolnik)

It was at Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre where dancers with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater would unknowingly perform for the last time before a nearly two-year hiatus. Fast forward to today, and they’re back on their first national tour.

Sarah Daley and Yannick Lebrun perform in Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s “Revelations” on March 2, 2022. (Credit: Paul Kolnik)

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to Chicago for the first time since the outbreak of COVID-19 with rousing works and a nod to tradition. 

Chicago’s Trinity Irish Dance Company returned to the Auditorium Theatre Feb. 5, 2022, for a dynamic and thunderous performance. (Courtesy of Chelsea Hoy)

Chicago’s Trinity Irish Dance Company returned to the stage of the Auditorium Theatre for the first time since the pandemic drove it away two years ago for a thunderous performance.

(Photo credit: Kyle Dunleavy)

Should you need any additional proof of the adage that “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” the recent one-night-only performance by the Joffrey Ballet at the Ravinia Festival provided all the evidence required.

“Footnotes” co-producer Brandon K. Calhoun talks about the art of footwork. (WTTW News)

Footwork is an art form that consists of both music and dance, and it’s brought people together from around the world. Now it’s bringing folks downtown to see animated projections on the Merchandise Mart.

The annual event that puts the spotlight on Chicago dance companies is free and open to the public this year with a concert at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.

Theater seats were empty across the city in during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. (WTTW News)

When theaters across the city shut down last year, a local multimedia company took the performing arts from stage to screen. With the help of some celebrated collaborators, they kept audiences in touch with artists. 

“Florencia En El Amazonas” (Credit: Lynn Lane / Houston Grand Opera)

After 15 months of dark theaters and livestreamed performances, two of Chicago’s most famous performing arts companies announce they are returning to the stage for live performances — this time under one roof.

Stefan Goncalvez (Photo by Matt de la Peña)

This world premiere, feverishly choreographed by Nicolas Blanc and performed by 15 of the company’s emotionally fiery dancers, is a work of such beauty and dynamic intensity that it can and should easily endure as part of the standard ballet rep for years to come.

(WTTW News)

Chicago’s most storied arts institutions have elevated Black leaders to the helm in the last year. We talk with some of them about how the Chicago arts scene is planning its 2021 comeback.