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Dance Sun Aug 19 2012

Dance Works: Bolero Chicago and the Chicago Dancing Festival

Bolero Chicago rehearsal (4).jpg

Photo by Araceli Arroyo

Last Monday evening in an old gymnasium in the Edgewater neighborhood, a group of 30 or so Chicagoans opened multicolored umbrellas in-sync, waved cellphones above their heads like lighters at an outdoor concert, and mimed a quaint, picturesque baseball game. The activities - familiar, universal - were just quick glimpses of Bolero Chicago, the local edition of the acclaimed community-centric dance work. Created by New York-based Larry Keigwin of KEIGWIN + COMPANY (K+C), Bolero Chicago features anywhere from 30-80 local non-dancers incorporating a variety of different movements to represent Chicago's broad culture and style. The work will be featured along with performances from the Joffrey Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Giordano Dance Chicago, and national dance companies as part of the 6th annual Chicago Dancing Festival. This year's festival runs from August 20 - 25.

During the rehearsals, the number of performers was lower than initially anticipated, but the simple choreography and loose structure of the work meant that new performers could easily be added and acquainted to the choreography within a day or two. The non-dancers - ranging in size, shape, age, and race - invited friends and family to participate, creating an even more complete representation of the diversity of the city. What does it mean to be a Chicagoan? Well, it can mean many things.

"Choreography is choreography," Keigwin said. Keigwin arrived to his first rehearsal to examine what had already been choreographed and to work with the "dancers" to create new vignettes that were relatable, easy to remember, and unique to their talents and understanding of the city. Incorporating Maurice Ravel's classic "Bolero," the choreography of Bolero Chicago changes and intensifies as the music repeats and layers upon itself 18 times.

Bolero Chicago rehearsal (2).jpg

Photo by Araceli Arroyo

Originally created in New York, Bolero has grown and adapted to the spirit and culture of each individual city. Unsurprisingly, for Chicago, wind and sports dominate. But there are quieter, smaller moments that resonate: the reading and blowing away of pages of the local paper, the jolty experience of riding public transportation, the "worship" culture surrounding local athletes, the craning of the neck (and the obliviousness to one's surroundings while texting and reading from one's cellphone).

Blanks were filled in along the way, hopefully creating something special. Scheduled to premiere on Monday, August 20 as part of the "Chicago Dancing" series of local dance companies, Bolero Chicago perhaps best represents the true spirit and passion collectively of the dancers and viewers of the festival. What does it mean to be a dancer? It means a belief in the craft and a willingness to manipulate, to push and cherish the body to demonstrate the myriad of ways storytelling can be expressed for the most novice and most seasoned of fans.

--

The Chicago Dancing Festival runs from August 20 through 25. Ticketed events are sold-out, however stand-by lines for each venue begin one hour prior to the performance and unclaimed tickets 15 minutes of curtain time will be released to those in the stand-by line. A series of non-ticketed events are also still open to the viewing public.

Monday, August 20, 7pm - "Chicago Dancing" SOLD OUT

Tuesday, August 21 - "Dancing Movies" at the Museum of Contemporary Art
For full schedule, click here.

Wednesday, August 22, 7:30pm - "Dancing East & West of Chicago" SOLD OUT

Thursday, August 23, 6pm - "Dancing Under the Stars"
Chicago SummerDance, in partnership with the festival, will feature a 4,900 square-foot and open-air dance floor that will hold a one-hour introductory dance lesson taught by Del Dominguez followed by salsa, mambo, and cha-cha beats of DJ El Caobo.

Friday, August 24, 6pm - "Chicago Now"

A panel discussion moderated by Zachary Whittenburg (formerly of Time Out Chicago) and including Lane Alexander (Chicago Human Rhythm Project) and Carrie Hanson (The Seldoms), among others.

Saturday, August 25, 7:30pm - "Celebration of Dance"

Featuring the After School Matters Hip Hop Culture Dance Ensemble, Bolero Chicago, Houston Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Martha Graham Dance Company, and stars of the New York City Ballet and the San Francisco Ballet.

 
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