It’s hard to believe two years have passed since Winifred Haun & Dancers performed “Light in Winter” at Unity Temple in Oak Park—one of the Chicago area’s last in-person performances before stages went dark. With any luck, Haun & Dancers’ “The Light Returns,” playing February 26 at the same location, will put a closing bracket on the worst of the pandemic and herald the coming of longer days and metaphorical brightness.The 2020 show, a collaboration featuring live music by composer Renee Baker, was so well-received that Haun was invited toO curate a dance series for the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building. The first performance in the Unity Dance Series, delayed by the pandemic to fall 2021, was Muntu Dance Theatre, featuring Haun dancer Vernon Gooden. On Saturday, February 26, the second in the Unity series, Haun & Dancers will be the main event of both shows, sharing the bill with Banks Performance Project. Haun says the second half of the show will be a reprise of “Light in Winter,” but the piece has evolved since it was first staged. “This weird thing has come over me: I almost can’t bear to look at things we created before the pandemic. I feel like the world is different, I’m different, the dancers are different.”
One notable change was inspired by the outdoor, distanced performances Haun created over the last two years at Cheney Mansion and Pleasant Home, in which small groups of audience members moved throughout the venue to view sections of the dance. Attendees to “The Light Returns” will similarly move through Unity House, the dramatic entryway to Unity Temple, and onto the stage. The show will also include a short piece featuring Haun’s Young Dancers Project, with performers aged ten to eighteen.
At Unity Temple, 875 Lake Street, Oak Park. Saturday, February 26 at 5:30pm and 8pm. $20-$39. Tickets at utrf.org/event/winifred-haun/