I think I'll take the plunge and write the last post on Gapers Block before it goes on hiatus in an hour or so. I've been A/C page editor for a year and theater/arts writer for almost three years. Shorter tenure than many of the veteran GB writers, but I have written 284 posts during that time. I'm going to miss Gapers Block very much. It has been invigorating intellectually and emotionally to have a place to write regularly about the arts I love--theater, art, design, architecture, sometimes books or music.
My first post was in May 2013 for the Book Club page. It was a feature on Richard Hell, the punk rock performer of the '70s, best known for his "Please Kill Me" shirt. He talked, answered questions and signed copies of his new book (I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp) at the Book Cellar on Lincoln Avenue and I felt fortunate to see the bass player and singer with the Voidoids, Television and the Heartbreakers. The fact that the Book Club editor let me write a feature about him made it even more rewarding.
The show consisted of two world premieres and one US premiere, as well as a Hubbard Street favorite.
The show featured the US premiere of Crystal Pite's Solo Echo, created for Nederlands Dans Theater in 2012. The piece is inspired by Mark Strand's poem, Lines for Winter.
The piece "presents a man reckoning with himself at the end of his life," said Pite. "The character is echoed--copied, reiterated, by seven different dancers. He is portrayed through both male and female bodies, and through various physiques and strengths. Each performer is a distinct and nuanced version of the character, and the connections between them evoke a man coming to terms with himself."
This holiday season marks the end of a 28-year-old Chicago tradition. The Joffrey Ballet presents Robert Joffrey's The Nutcracker for the last time this year, with 24 performances from tonight to December 27.
Joffrey's version of The Nutcracker, which he choreographed in 1987, takes place in a 19th-century American home, replacing the former traditional European backdrop. The tale follows the main character, Clara, as she attends a Christmas Eve celebration, surrounded by toys from Joffrey's childhood. Following the celebration, Clara is transported to a world of battling toy soldiers and mice, an enchanted forest, the Sugar Plum Fairy and, of course, the Nutcracker.
Dancers Matthew Dibble and Rika Okamoto perform a dance by Twyla Tharp. Photo by Ruven Afanador.
Volumes have been written about Twyla Tharp. As an arts writer and reviewer, it's difficult to narrow down what one should say about this prolific dancer and choreographer. It is not easy to capture the concept of movement in prose, much less to winnow down 50 years of a prolific legend such as Tharp. Let's begin with my personal experience with her work.
The Joffrey Ballet unveils the U.S. premiere of John Neumeier's Sylvia, a new twist on a ballet that originally premiered in 1876. The production opens tonight at the Auditorium Theatre.
The female-powered ballet was groundbreaking for its time, portraying strong female characters and sparking a new interest in ballet.
Sylvia tells the mythological story of a young woman attempting and finding difficulty in striking a balance between strength and vulnerability as she transitions into womanhood. She vacillates between acting tenderly and acting aggressively, and finds true love upon awakening her sensuality--not themes normally explored when the ballet first premiered.
Ballet Folklorico de Mexico de Amalia Hernandez will present its traditional Mexican dances and music in Chicago for two nights--Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 26-27--at the Auditorium Theatre. The company formed in 1952 by Amalia Hernandez, a dancer and ballet choreographer, has appeared in Chicago many times over the years.
Ballet Folklorico de Mexico celebrates Mexican culture with vividly costumed dancers and musicians depicting the traditions of indigenous Meso-American culture.
The Joffrey Ballet opens its 60th season tonight with Millennials. The show features new pieces from a trio of the next generation of standout choreographers. Millennials showcases world premieres by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and Myles Thatcher, as well as the Chicago premiere of Fool's Gold from Christopher Wheeldon.
Lopez Ochoa's 20-minute Mammatus -- the Latin word for cloud -- features 20 dancers as birds and insects, exploring movement and nature.
"I feel they are more animals than humans," Lopez Ochoa said of the dancers in her piece. "It's really about forces of nature."
On Friday, tap masters both local and international come together for choreography set to the music of the late Billy Strayhorn, newly arranged by Vijay Tellis-Nayak. Dancers include Martin "Tre" Dumas, Derick K. Grant, Cartier Williams, and Yukiko Misumi of Japan. Choreographers Star Dixon and Zada Cheeks present new works, along with Prisms from director and founder Lane Alexander.
Saturday features Chicago and U.S.-based performers. The closing show highlights the Chicago Human Rhythm Project ensemble BAM! performing Push Past Break, a Princess Grace Award-commissioned piece by Michelle Dorrance, and Reflections from Alexander. Other performers include Sarah Savelli, Jumaane Taylor, Nico Rubio, Jay Fagan, Daniel Borak of Switzerland and Marina Coura of Brazil. The night also features a new work by BAM's Martin Bronson.
"Tap dancing with the finest live music you will find mixed in with the danger, excitement, and sexiness of the circus."
When I asked Mark Yonally, the artistic director of Chicago Tap Theatre, what Circo Tap would be about, in a few words, that was as concise as he could be. Chicago Tap Theatre (CTT) stages this exclusive, one-night only performance at the Athenaeum Theatre at 8pm Saturday. Their combination of tap dancing, circus arts, live music and narration brings an inspiring spotlight to the theater community. It presents tap dancers, acrobats, whip artists, clowns, tightrope walkers, stilt walkers, musicians and, Yonally says, "everything you wouldn't expect to see."
Yonally's vision for this performance began through his exposure three years ago to Circurious, where he was invited to perform as a tap-dancer. Circurious is an American circus that highlights jugglers, singers, dancers and contortionists through their tour around the United States. Their website describes it as "a heart-stopping, mind-boggling display of artistry and athleticism." With such inspiration as a performer, Yonally proceeded to produce a combination of what he knows with what he became inspired by: tap dancing with circus.
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago's Summer Series began in unique fashion June 11. The weekend-long run, and the last show of the company's 2015 season, featured three works by a single choreographer, Alejandro Cerrudo.
Cerrudo is Hubbard Street's first resident choreographer, and the show featured his 14th world premiere for the company sandwiched between two audience favorites. This marked the second time Hubbard Street has devoted an entire show to one artist.
The performance began with Extremely Close, choreographed for Hubbard Street in 2007. It begins with white feathers falling from the sky. I couldn't help but associate those feathers with the movement of the dancers, which at times seemed birdlike. Small motions were fast, sharp and angular, almost peckish in nature. These were offset by sweeping movements and extensions that brought to mind the swooping and grace of a larger bird's flight.
Hubbard Street Resident Choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo in rehearsal for his Season 37 Summer Series world premiere. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is at it again, with a new, and highly anticipated, Summer Series performance. The program is composed of works rendered entirely by the company's resident choreographer, Alejandro Cerrudo, and promises to provide audience members with a whirlwind of emotions.
Cerrudo has been the company's resident choreographer since 2009, and is the first person to hold that title. He has since choreographed 13 pieces with Hubbard Street, two of which will be showcased in the Summer Series. The third and final piece of the program is a new work created by Cerrudo, making a total of 14 pieces he's choreographed with the company.
The Tapman Productions La Raison d'Être, in a word, is fun. The show by the Chicago tap company features a surprising mix of music, singing, spoken word and dancing, making the feel more musical theater than strictly dance show. The easy-to-follow plot line and mix of dance and musical styles, along with a fairly short run time, keeps the audience engaged.
Was the execution expert and seamless? No. But I respect the dedication to the vision and the creativity involved in putting all of the pieces together.
The story follows the employees, patrons, and the owner and his wife of a Chicago night club called La Raison d'Être. Javier Villamil's maître d' narrates--often through song--as the story unfolds over one night.
Choreographed by Artistic Director Tristan Bruns, Mike Ford, Kate O'Hanlon and Javier Villamil, there were moments when blending one man's singing to a single guitar and the rhythm created by three tappers worked. It felt unique and almost poignant. The tappers ceased being dancers and became part of the song, pulling off at times what seemed liked great drum solos. The tap choreography was skillfully woven into the songs through intricate patterns and clean, sharp taps.
Seven of Chicago's top dance companies will perform in the annual Dance for Life benefit Saturday, August 15, at the Auditorium Theatre. This benefit for HIV/AIDS has been conducted since 1992. Funds raised will benefit the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and The Dancers' Fund, a funding program of Chicago Dancers United.
Companies in this year's lineup are Giordano Dance Chicago, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Joffrey Ballet, River North Dance Chicago, C5, Chicago Human Rhythm Project and Same Planet Different World Dance Theatre.
Second City's Joey Bland and Tim Mason will emcee the night. Performing group C5, which blends dance with aerial acrobatics, will present a world premiere. The finale will be choreographer Randy Duncan's work Stand by Me with special music arranged by Ira Antelis. The finale will feature local professional dancers selected through a special audition.
The evening will begin with a 5pm reception at the Hilton Chicago Grand Ballroom. The Dance for Life performance begins at 7:30pm at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Pkwy. Tickets are $15-$75 for the performance and $250-$600 for reception and performance; they can be purchased online or by calling 312-922-5812.
This weekend only, contemporary company Hedwig Dances takes the stage in celebration of its 30 years on the Chicago dance scene. One Grand Dance looks back on Hedwig Dances founder and artistic director Jan Bartoszek's 40 years of creating dances, 30 of those years with Hedwig.
One Grand Dance acts as a retrospective of Bartoszek's work, reflecting her ideas and style.
"Throughout my career, I have been engaged by the intersections of movement and objects," Bartoszek said. "Movement transforms objects, animating the inanimate, and objects lend poetic imagery to movement."
FlySpace, a collaborative group of movement-based dance and arts organizations, has welcomed a new partner into the fold.
Jan Bartoszek of Hedwig Dances, Margi Cole of The Dance COLEctive and Michelle Kranicke of Zephyr Dance formed FlySpace to join together on issues of audience engagement, visibility, marketing, and finance and to start a dialogue on art innovation.
Chicago Dancemakers Forum and High Concept Labs are joining together to present a full day of events on Saturday, May 9, for panel discussions and rehearsals, which focus on contemporary dance and dramaturgical processes.
The free event invites creators, artists, dramaturges, performers, students and the greater Chicago community to engage in the conversations and dialogue concerning the practice and theory of movement and the body.
Because of the NFL draft, The Joffrey Ballet had to move its final series of the season to the Cadillac Palace Theatre this spring. The placement of seating offers a more intimate venue than the Auditorium Theatre does; the Cadillac Palace provides an up-close look that dance audiences aren't often afforded in larger venues.
From the perspective of someone steeped in the visual arts, one of the things that I love and appreciate about contemporary works of dance is the attention to lush visual and physical sensibilities by choreographers, costume and set designers. In this way, New Works didn't disappoint. The various palettes of the works and the variety of movement styles held my attention throughout most of the program.
Promise, opening next weekend for two nights only at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, is the brainstorm of acclaimed modern dance choreographer Winifred Haun. She created the current adaptation after reading and deconstructing John Steinbeck's opus East of Eden. She says she decided to revise the work after producing several sections of Promise in 2006-2009, in order to focus on developing two of the female characters from the book (Cathy and Liza) because she wanted to explore their motivations more deeply. Haun says, "Steinbeck did not, in my opinion, fully flesh out his female characters." Her goal, she explains, is to look at themes through motion and relationships and to give the women a more three-dimensional role.
Spring is just around the corner, and with that comes warmer weather, melting snow and the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Spring Series, which opens tonight at the Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph St.
The five-piece program includes a world premiere of I Am Mister B, a piece by former Hubbard Street dancer Gustavo Ramírez Sansano. Ramírez Sansano created his piece to music he twice previously danced to, Tchaikovsky's third suite for orchestra, as an homage to choreographer George Balanchine. Balanchine used the music for his ballet Themes and Variations in 1947. He is also the "Mister B" referenced in the title of Ramírez Sansano's piece.
Ramírez Sansano danced Balanchine's variations at 19 and again later while dancing in the Netherlands.
"It makes it interesting and challenging," he said. "I had it in mind because the fact of dancing something, it makes you appreciate it more."
The CUBE Ensemble, a Chicago based performance company, will be presenting Faces of Eurydice, a dance-opera-theater at the Flat Iron Arts Building in Wicker Park. The retelling of the myth of Orpheus is choreographed by Hope Goldman and the music and lyrics are directed by Hope Littwin.
The performances will take place at The Pentagon Theater in the Flat Iron Arts Building, 1575 N Milwaukee Ave. The first performance is Thursday, March 12, continuing through Saturday, March 21. Performances are at 7:30pm each night.
Tickets can be found through Brown Paper Tickets;pre-sale tickets are $25 admission, $10 industry/student and regular tickets are $35 admission, $15 industry/student.
The performers include Beth Berta, Jeremy Cairns, Allison Cook, Kroydell Galima, Lia Kohl, Hope Littwin, Alexandra Olsavsky and Vienna Willems.
"Winning Works" showcases pieces by the winners of the 2015 Choreographers of Color Awards: Jennifer Archibald, Abdul Latif and Stephanie Martinez. The Choreographers of Color Award recognizes minority choreographers, while providing them a platform to show their work.
Out of Site Chicago is a curatorial project which focuses on public space and performative work. The goal of Out of Site is to invite the public to the artists practice and bring forth a cultural experience for everyone involved. The current call for proposals is for a public performance in Chicago.
Out of Site Chicago is interested in presenting an "interactive experience for the public" that would take place in the Wicker Park/Bucktown neighborhood, for a duration of two hours. Revitalizing the current notion of public performance is what applicants should focus on for the 2015 call for proposals. Dance companies and performance artists are encouraged to apply. The 2015 jury panel is Felicia Holman, Carron Little and Roberto Sifuentes.
Creating a pas de deux is challenging enough, but putting one together for Wendy Whelan after she retired from her 30-year career with the New York City Ballet is mind-numbing. Alejandro Cerrudo, resident choreographer of Hubbard Street Dance Company, is one of four choreographers she asked to create and perform with her in "Restless Creature," one of the first projects in her new dance career. The Chicago debut of "Restless Creature" will be Wednesday at the Harris Theater.
How someone discusses working with a major figure in their field shows how much they grasp the significance of the occasion. If Baryshnikov is Zeus, Whelan is Athena. It's a big deal that this archetype of a contemporary ballerina chose the Spanish Cerrudo to help her craft this project. And he's aware of that fact.
Last weekend, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago continued its season with its Winter Series -- Princess Grace Awards: New Works. The premise of the show was inviting three previous Princess Grace Award winners in choreography to produce new works for Hubbard Street. Kyle Abraham, Robyn Mineko Williams and Victor Quijada each worked on a new piece for the Hubbard Street dancers.
For a one evening only engagement, Fulcrum Point New Music Project, led by the renowned Stephen Burns, will be presenting a special presentation, "Mirror of Enlightenment," at the Harris Theater. Focused on the themes of contemporary Indian music and how they have merged with the traditional, on Saturday, Nov. 1, outstanding performers such as percussionist Kalyan Pathak, sarod player Soumik Datta, and Chicago-based Indian dance ensemble Kalapriya Dance will join forces to deliver an evening full of Indian music rich with history and tradition, all while entwined with a contemporary flair.
A much-anticipated number by composer Param Vir will be premiered at the event, titled "Raga Fields," which is a concerto piece for the sarod and an ensemble. Blending traditional Indian music with Western contemporary sound, the piece is sure to be a cornerstone performance of the evening. The world premiere of "Mara" will also be performed by Kalapriya, a piece that depicts the life of Buddha through interpretive dance movements.
Formed in 1998, Fulcrum Point's mission is to spotlight contemporary composers and up-and-coming classical musicians who are influenced by elements of popular culture, and in turn, educate the public and invite them into a world enamored with music's rich history. The show will engage the audience as it is delivered a tour-de-force performance surrounding the music of India and how it has changed over time.
Mirror of Enlightenment takes place at the Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph St., on Saturday, Nov. 1. The event begins at 7:30pm and tickets are $20 for general admission, $10 for students, available for purchase at 312-334-7777 or online.
Giordano Dance Chicago returns to the stage October 24 as the company tackles old favorites and a new piece by award-winning choreographer, Ray Leeper.
"Ray's connection with GDC began many years ago when my father, company founder Gus Giordano, pulled the 12-year-old Ray up on stage during a workshop at a dance convention," said Giordano Dance Chicago artistic director Nan Giordano in a statement. "Since then, the relationship has grown."
The roughly two-hour show is full of laugh-out-loud moments, strategic and exceptionally creative dance movements and sharp writing and delivery by Second City actors. The show is directed by Billy Bungeroth of Second City and was worked on by the largest creative team in the history of Hubbard Street Dance.
As the title suggests, the show revolves around stories of falling: falling in and out of love, falling from the sky and falling down in general. It additionally, as perhaps expected, pokes fun at dance and comedy in turn, but showcasing differences between the two groups is not the main point. Rather, the focus is on what the different artists accomplish together.
I wish I were a dancer, I thought to myself as I sat in the gilded Auditorium Theatre as the curtain fell following an exquisite performance by the Joffrey Ballet of the world-renowned ballet Swan Lake, completely in awe. Sitting elated, The show barely had time to officially wind to a close before audience members cried out exalted "bravos!" that rang throughout the theatre rich with history and artistry.
World-renowned, London-based choreographer Christopher Wheeldon dreamt up a masterful adaptation that proved to be equally stunning as it was technically gorgeous. In the Joffrey Ballet's 60-year reign, Swan Lake had yet to be performed, and this ballet lived up to its longstanding expectations. For 10 ethereal evenings, the reworking of the classic and pivotal ballet will help the Chicago arts institution of the Joffrey Ballet to celebrate its 20th anniversary of being centered in this great city that we are lucky to call home.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Joffrey Ballet residing in Chicago. To celebrate, the company welcomes the 2014-2015 season with a special, one-weekend show, "Stories in Motion."
"Stories in Motion" opens ahead of Joffrey's usual season of three programs. Consisting of three pieces, the show examines the idea of story ballet. Both George Balanchine's Prodigal Son and Antony Tudor's Lilac Garden, two Joffrey favorites, will be presented in a fresh way alongside with Yuri Possokhov's Chicago premiere of RAkU.
"With 'Stories in Motion,' the Joffrey Ballet explores the ways by which stories are told with physical movement and music," said Artistic Director Ashley Wheater in a release. "We tend to think of only full-length ballets as our narrative food, so I wanted to focus on telling a complete story in a very short space of time."
While Hubbard Street Dance has been involved in the festival since its inception, working on a commissioned piece is something new.
"This is our first time being part of the commissioning...which has become a major part [of the festival]," said Hubbard Street Dance Manager of Communications Zachary Whittenburg. "They had the idea that Kyle would create a piece for Hubbard Street."
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra's MusicNOW series is not your typical performance experience. Upon entering the venue, guests are greeted with a DJ set. The performance itself is interactive, visionary, and one-of-a-kind, mixing media together to form a sensory whirlwind of an exquisite foray into the world of live performance. After the performance, guests are once again greeted with a DJ set, at a reception where they can mingle with the artists themselves.
Re-envisioning the concept of a live performance to make it more of a deliberately-crafted experience overall, one that is more intimate and personal, is what the MusicNOW series has made it a point to achieve. CSO Mead composers-in-residence Anna Clyne and Mason Bates have curated each performance with fervor and brilliance, featuring musicians from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and guest musicians, as well. Monday, May 5 marks the final installment of the MusicNOW series for the 2013/2014 season, featuring a glorious lineup of three works paired nicely amongst the other, each contrasting yet fitting into a cohesive whole.
MusicNOW: Companions is set to showcase The Companion Guide to Rome, a musical tour through nine Roman churches, Fits + Starts, a more modern piece created by renowned composer Anna Clyne and acclaimed choreographer Kitty McNamee, and a chamber concerto, Livre des Sauvages. I was overjoyed to get the chance to speak with both Clyne and McNamee about their piece Fits + Starts exclusively, who allowed me to gain great insight into their creative processes and their hopes for viewers throughout the performance experience.
The Chicago Arts District in East Pilsen opens its galleries, artists studios and neighborhood shops for local people every second Friday of the month.
Last night, Rooms, a performance space, had its final performance from an ongoing series entitled, RITUAL NO. 10:WAVES. The ritual included two male performers--one was seated and one was pouring water from one bucket to the other. The seated man beat a steady dream-beat while the standing performer transitioned from a platform to the wooden floor. As pictured above, the individual poured water from one bucket to another for three steady hours.
AAADT's L. Sims & J. Roberts in Aszure Barton's LIFT; photo: Paul Kolnik.
Robert Battle, in his third year as Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, returns for the company's annual Chicago performances at the Auditorium Theatre.
"It always feels like 'coming home' when the company arrives in Chicago and we are embraced by the Auditorium audiences," said Battle. "We are thrilled to continue that long-standing tradition in 2014."
UPDATE:The Harris Theater is closed until March 6 due to a fire on Feb. 19 that damaged operational and mechanical equipment in the theater. The theater is working to reschedule performances wherever possible; we will update when new dates are announced.
The Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph Dr., will pack the last two nights of February with as much art as is humanly possible when it welcomes the Alonzo King LINES Ballet to its stage. Known for his groundbreaking collaborations across multiple artistic disciplines, King brings three programs that incorporate modern dance, live music, and visual art in a Chicago debut and two Chicago premieres.
"Constellation" with Keelan Whitmore (photo by Margo Moritz)
Savion Glover is synonymous with tap dancing; known for his Broadway performances in The Tap Dance Kid and his Tony Award-winning choreography for Bring in 'da Noise/Bring in 'da Funk, Glover, who, in many circles is single-handedly credited with keeping the art of tap an integral part of dance culture, remains one of the world's most renowned performance artists today.
Here, he talks about the Windy City debut of his tap dance concert, STePz, what inspires his choreography, and what Chicago can expect from the "STePz experience."
The Joffrey Ballet bills its Nutcracker as "America's Number One" and for good reason. From the elaborate set pieces to the expertly crafted costumes to the outstanding special effects to the top-notch dancing, The Nutcracker is a holiday tradition to be revered, relished and repeated.
My own experience with The Nutcracker began when I was seven years old -- my mother dragged us all downtown for a double-header: Lunch in the Walnut Room (in the former Marshall Field's on State Street) followed by an early evening production of the Nutcracker. This was before the Joffrey moved here, when the production was at the McCormick Place, I think, but the memory is hazy. What I do remember is the magic of watching the story unfold, the familiarity of the music, which I listened to religiously on my Fischer Price record player, and the beauty of the dancing.
Not much has changed -- the whole experience is still magical. (I nearly wept when it snowed glittery snow onstage...) If you're looking for something to take the whole family to this holiday season, look no further than The Joffrey's production of The Nutcracker. It's pure holiday magic incarnate.
Next weekend, the Harris Theater for Music and Dance will host two outstanding Chicago-based dance companies, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater on Nov. 1 and Natya Dance Theater on Nov. 2. Each company will present a new work inspired by real-life stories with spiritual themes.
Deeply Rooted Dance Theater creates world-class dance inspired by the African Diaspora in a community dedicated to nurturing artists, supporting human relationships and sharing common values through engaging in dance. Their new piece, Hadiya, created by choreographer Nicole Clarke-Springer will premiere on Friday.
Hadiya began as an exploration of spiritual connection. The name came from the real-life tragedy that occurred this past winter. "On January 29, 2013, 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was shot in the back and killed while standing with friends inside Harsh Park in Chicago," said Clarke-Springer. "The event really hurt me as a mother... I did not understand how something like this could happen. Where was the disconnect? It made me think of how I pray every morning over my daughters, just as I'm sure her mom did; and I know my mother prayed over me. I would have a spiritual guide, these guardian angels, like bodyguards."
The weather is getting crisp, the leaves are turning colors and costumes of all kinds are festooning store windows. Must be getting close to Halloween! If you're like me, you want to start celebrating early. Check out some of these performances to whet your Halloween whistle.
If you like a side of showtunes with your horror? Check out Zombie Prom at Mayne Stage (Oct. 19, Oct. 25 and Oct. 31, $20) with a special zombie prom-themed afterparty on Halloween and The Musical of the Living Dead at Stage 773 now through 11/9 ($25).
For Chicago's Red Clay Dance (RCD), dancing has meaning beyond entertainment or storytelling; it can also has sociological impact, by "advancing the avenues that dance uses to contribute to improving cultural and socioeconomic issues." This weekend, the dance company, based in the city's Hyde Park neighborhood, will celebrate its fifth anniversary with its fall concert Transcending, which will feature a company repertory piece, Gone 2 Soon, and the world premiere of On Hallowed Ground.
The trill of the piano. The squeak of pointe shoes moving across the wooden floor. The controlled breathing of the dancers as they complete graceful arabesques. I committed it all to memory as I sat against a curtained mirror in the rehearsal room, watching the Joffrey Ballet company prepare for their upcoming show, La Bayadère.
It's the first time in recorded history that Marius Petipa's classic ballet will be performed in Chicago. A tale of star-crossed lovers set in exotic India, the show has something for everyone: a slain tiger, snake charmers, opium-infused dreams, and intrigue. Yet the century-old ballet did not come without its own set of challenges, as choreographer Stanton Welch shared with me before rehearsal.
This weekend, The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University hosts Ballet West's return to Chicago; the Salt-Lake City-based dance company, ranked as one of "the top professional ballet companies in America" and are the stars of the CW's "Breaking Pointe," presents a weekend of performances, including its Chicago premiere of The Sleeping Beauty. Created by Artistic Director Adam Sklute and set to music by Tchaikovsky, this classic fairytale will cater "to modern audiences while maintaining the classical purity of the beloved story."
The company will also perform a mixed repertory that includes Rubies Pas de Deux from Diamonds, and a world premiere piece, Nicolo Fonte's The Lottery, a "suspenseful, innovative piece" that is never the same performance twice.
See Ballet West at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress, Friday, October 4 through Sunday, October 6. Tickets are $30-$90 and are available online, by phone, 800-982-ARTS (2787) or at the box office. For more information, call 312-341-2310.
Ballet West principal artist Katherine Lawrence; photo: Ryan Galbraith.
Aspen Santa Fe Ballet's bold vision - top global choreographers, distinctive groundbreaking works, and virtuoso dancers - has fostered a jewel of a dance company in the American West and beyond. Led by Artistic Director Tom Mossbrucker and Executive Director Jean-Philippe Malaty, the company returns to the Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph Street, for one performance only Saturday, October 5 at 7:30 pm.
Aspen Santa Fe Ballet has a long tradition of inviting guest choreographers to create pieces for their dancers and their upcoming performance at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance is no exception. Included in the program are works by international choreographers Jorma Elo and Cayetano Soto. Rounding out the program is Alejandro Cerrudo's Last. Cerrudo is the Resident Choreographer and a dancer with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Despite his regular choreographic presence here, this will be Chicagoans' first look at this work, a 2012 premiere, and the first time a company other than Hubbard Street has presented his work locally. Cerrudo's work is very approachable for the neophyte dance fan. (Disclosure: I actually work for Hubbard Street in fundraising during the day, so have seen a few of his pieces.)
Although he's based in Chicago, Cerrudo worked with the company for four weeks out in Aspen and was inspired by the experience of being in nature in Colorado. "Aspen is nature and green and hikes...it was beautiful. It was a great feeling to wake up every morning and have nature [all around] and then finishing work and having nature around you again." He said that working with a different company was great, but different in that the dance training of the dancers is different, "Ballet training is very hard...the sensations in ballet are very specific and you train your whole life to get those specific sensations."
Cerrudo is tight-lipped about the content and description of the piece. He wants it to remain a bit of a mystery, but will say that he has "specific moments of the piece that [he] really enjoy[s]." and that "...the music is really beautiful." He says that he prefers for the audience to interpret for themselves and access it with whatever viewpoint they bring. As someone who has become a fan of his work over the last two years, what I can tell you is this: expect magical moments and tiny filaments of lyrical beauty mixed with the complication of human relationships and an occasional wink with a twinkle in the eye.
Chicago's summer festival season continues to roll along--and next week, August 20-24, it dances along with the Chicago Dancing Festival, a five-day showcase featuring performances by top local and national dance companies. Co-produced by choreographer Lar Lubovitch and dancer Jay Franke, this diverse, "free-to-all festival," now in its seventh year, will not only be spread across various venues like the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Museum of Contemporary Art and the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park; it will also feature various dance styles including ballet, modern, rhythmic, and more.
This year, the festival's dance card is filled with Chicago staples such as Chicago Human Rhythm Project and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and newcomers to the festival include Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater and Chicago's Natya Dance Theatre.
I recently spoke with Franke about the festival, its diversity, and what makes Chicago's dance community special.
Before footworking, percolating, and jukin' became popular, there was steppin'--the smooth--and sometimes, slick and acrobatic--dance style that has been a major part of Chicago's dance culture for decades.
Steppin' is extremely synonymous with Chicago, especially among those of a particular age group; in fact, it is such a part of the fabric of the city's culture that much has been devoted to it, including competitions, balls, television shows, music, and fashion, not to mention you can't go anywhere on the south or west sides without a club having a night dedicated to it. Even the 1997 cult classic film Love Jones (filmed here), which starred Chicago native Larenz Tate, featured an entire scene about steppin'.
Andrea "Drea" Kelly is vivacious, witty, and loaded with artistic talent; as owner of the Andrea Kelly Dance Theater, the Chicago native has emerged, in her own way, from the shadows of her famous ex-husband, R&B superstar, R. Kelly. And now, as part of the ensemble cast of VH1's hit show, "Hollywood Exes," the scene-stealing Kelly has definitely made her mark in the world of reality television.
Having been involved with the entertainment industry for years as principal choreographer and dancer for R. Kelly's award show appearances, music videos, etc., not only has Kelly long been aware of public personas and images, she certainly recognizes the stigma attached to reality TV stars. "If you act a fool, honey, they're gonna edit a fool," she said. Recently, I spoke with Kelly about her love of dance, what fans can expect from the show's second season, and what makes "Hollywood Exes" stand out from its reality television counterparts.
Subject to Change (STC) is a monthly dance party that encourages all types of expression. This Tuesday, Subject to Change brings you their June installment at Township (2200 N. California), the proceeds of which (a $5 suggested donation) will benefit 3rd Language, a self-decribed "Chicago-based collective of artists and thinkers exploring and embracing difference, otherness and transgression." The June 4 dance party will feature DJ regulars Josie Bush (Joe Erbentraut) and Butch Sassidy the Come-Dance Kid (Mar Curran), as well as guest DJs Corrine Mina and Cojuelo Alelao. Tuesday will also include performances from H. Melt, Drow Flow and Nicole Garneau. Mar Curran, one of the STC curators, answered some questions about what makes this Chicago dance party unique.
Chicagoans, listen up. Do you like to dance? Are you ready for gorgeous ladies in amazing outfits? Are you ready to hear body-slamming beats that you've been missing for years, or maybe even your whole life? Fabulous Ladies of Fitness (FLOF) is where you need to be. Second Thursdays of every month at Cole's Bar, FLOF hosts a dance party that makes it impossible for you to have a bad time. Using only their dance moves, killer outfits, and their signature blend of '70s lite rock, '80s/'90s R&B and hip-hop, current dance hits (and the occasional TV theme song), FLOF will have you doing amazing line dances that make you feel super hip and also united with your fellow dancers in no time. I had a chance to ask Jennifer Boeder, Molly Kavanaugh and Dorie Silverman--the ladies responsible for this guaranteed feel-good event--about how FLOF got started and how they manage to keep making it more and more fabulous every month.
Chicago Dance Crash, whose Gotham City was hailed by the Chicago Tribune as one of the city's best in 2012, returns with The Cotton Mouth Club, its summer performance, choreographed by artistic director Jessica Deahr and Robert McKee, in a show that combines the "prohibition-era" with the 80s, taking the audience on a journey through swing, jazz, ballet, breakdance and more. Here, McKee talks about the show, how the movie Idlewild served as inspiration, and the important message audiences will take away from the performance.
Daniel Gibson and Mary Tarpley; The Cotton Mouth Club.
When did you first know you wanted a career in dance? Was it one person or several people whom you were inspired by?
I started dancing as a kid, watching lots and lots of Michael Jackson videos, and learning the choreography and performing it for my family at family gatherings, reunions and things like that. It's kind of something that's always been in my blood. I went on to college to study more technical forms of dance--ballet, modern, jazz, and things like that.
Spectrum, the seventh full-length concert presented by Matter Dance Company, opens May 30th at Stage 773. Spectrum is appropriately titled, as it features a variety of dance styles, from tap to hip-hop to contemporary to modern. The concert includes the work of Carisa Barreca, Katie Eberhardy, Gail Adduci Gogliotti, Stephanie Gruender, Chelsea Harkelroad, Jessica McVay, Gloria Mwez, Kristin Nelson, Jacquelyn Pavilon, Greg Poljacik, Niki Wilk Mahon, and Mandy Work. Matter Dance Company, now in it's seventh year and voted "Best Dance Company in Chicago" by the Reader five years in a row, believes "dance should be created for the audience as well as the dancers."
Spectrum runs May 30-June 1, 2013 (Thursday and Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 3pm and 8pm) at Stage 773 (1225 W Belmont).Tickets: $20 for general admission, $15 for Children, Students (with valid id), and Seniors. Tickets available through the Stage 773 Box Office at 773.327.5252.
Beloved local dance company Luna Negra Dance Theater announced today that they will be ceasing operations. Founded by Eduardo Vilaro in 1999, Luna Negra celebrated Latino choreographers and voices through contemporary dance. In a press release, Board President Jorge Solis said, "Luna Negra is very proud of having provided a wonderful medium in which to celebrate and showcase Latino inspired dance in the city of Chicago. Sharing the rich Latino culture has been a source of pride and inspiration to all those involved with the company over the last 14 years. It's been tremendously difficult to come to the conclusion to cease operations, but the financial reality could not be avoided any longer."
The ballet, created in 1997, begins its last stint in regular repertory this evening -- one day after Shakespeare's 449th birthday (and his death day), and the day deemed "Talk Like Shakespeare Day." Set to Lubovitch's choreography and music composed by Academy Award winner Elliot Goldenthal, the ballet tells the tale of the Venetian Moor, Othello, his love, Desdemona, and the web of lies spun by Iago that brings the entire cast of characters to a tragic end, wrought with betrayal and envy.
When it comes to the arts, the collaboration of different cultures and art forms can be magical; in Havana Blue, a joint artistic effort between the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic (CJP) and River North Dance Chicago (RNDC), and part of the Auditorium Theatre's "MUSIC + MOVEMENTFESTIVAL," the worlds of music and dance collide to showcase the symbiotic relationship and history of "Cuba and Afro-Caribbean roots." Here, RNDC Artistic Director Frank Chaves talks about his inspirational and "life-changing" trip to Cuba with CJP Artistic Director Orbert Davis and how "they were determined to take what they had experienced back to the U.S. in order to share their unique experiences with Chicago audiences."
Last weekend, FlySpace Dance Series kicked off at Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, marking the launch of a new and exciting resource-sharing consortium between four Chicago dance companies called FlySpace. In case you missed it, the series continues with another round of performances this weekend in the same place (Friday and Saturday at 7pm and Sunday at 5pm). FlySpace is not a new dance company, but a new strategic partnership in Chicago between The Dance COLEctive, Hedwig Dances, Same Planet Different World Dance Theatre and Zephyr Dance. The four artistic directors of these companies--Jan Bartoszek, Margi Cole, Michelle Kranicke and Joanna Rosenthal--are also the four artistic directors of FlySpace, sharing directorship equally. Cole, founder and artistic director of The Dance COLEctive, answered some questions about what audiences can expect from FlySpace at their show this weekend, as well as in the future.
The "Windy City" meets the "Motor City" at The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University this April. Roosevelt University welcomes Detroit's Eisenhower Dance Ensemble for the Chicago premiere of "Motown in Motion." This upbeat dance performance guarantees to get you into the Motown mood at the Auditorium's Landmark Stage Sunday, April 14th at 3pm.
This Motor City premier dance company celebrates the songs that made Motown famous in an evening chock full of soulful dance and music. Playful, humorous, and wonderfully theatrical, Eisenhower's performers give a visual salute to the tunes that made Berry Gordy's Motown Records famous.
"Motown in Motion" uses the music of top Motown recording artists including The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight, Smokey Robinson, Michael Jackson, The Supremes, and Stevie Wonder, among others. The music is set to dance vignettes choreographed by nationally and internationally renowned choreographers including Joel Hall, Ginger Thatcher, Stephanie Pizzo, Lindsey Thomas, Gregory Patterson, and acclaimed Eisenhower Dance Ensemble Artistic Director Laurie Eisenhower.
Tickets ($25 - $35) are on sale online and by calling 800-982-ARTS (2787) or stop into the Auditorium Theatre box office,50 E. Congress Pkwy., to purchase.
There is a reason why Hubbard Street Dance Chicago continues to be revered as one of Chicago's most uniquely gifted and interesting contemporary dance companies. For one, they are never afraid to shy away from more experimental works, such as their yearly danc(e)volve: New Works Festival at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, described here as featuring works that are "sharp, sleek, and physically-demanding." In their latest effort, the company has collaborated with the San Francisco-based Alonzo King LINES Ballet company for their spring series. The spring series premieres tonight at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance at Millenium Park and runs through March 17.
Brass Chuckles is a playful, monthly comedy show at The Playground Theater that values genuine comedic expression over perfection. This makes sense given it was created by one Chicago's most exploratory artists, Tamale Sepp. Hanging out with Tamale at a tea lounge is just like watching her produce a show. She oozes positivity and acceptance, and she notices everything. Are you standing in the doorway and making everyone cold? She will politely ask you to move. Did you leave your mug at your table when you left? Tamale's got it. It is exactly these superpowers of perception and caring that make Tamale a fantastic producer.
Tamale, who has a background in fire dancing, burlesque, drag, sketch, improv and stand-up, created Brass Chuckles to foster comedy in Chicago that is as interdisciplinary as she is. Brass Chuckles performances range from drag to videos to performance art, with comedic expression as the through-line, and Tamale hosts the whole thing with an upbeat charm. The show aims to bring different artistic communities together to play and to learn from each other. A stand-up who watches fire dancing, for example, can learn a new meaning of silence from a crowd. "When I'm fire dancing, my audience does not talk," says Tamale. "People are hypnotized, so they don't have a lot of response. This does not equate to them not being invested or completely involved in that experience. It's the opposite. And that can be true during tension-filled moments of stand-up."
This Valentine's Day, Chicagoans going about their daily lives will be pleasantly surprised to find that Feb. 14 is much more than a cheesy holiday this year. It is a historic, global protest of violence against women. At noon, Chicagoans wearing red scarves and dancing in synchrony will overflow onto Daley Plaza for the once in a lifetime event, One Billion Rising.
A worldwide strike happening this Valentine's Day only, One Billion Rising is orchestrated by V-Day, a non-profit founded by Eve Ensler 15 years ago. V-Day is producing over 7,000 events this year that demand an end to violence against women, including hundreds of productions of The Vagina Monologues, screenings of documentaries, and workshops for men called V-Men. The name "One Billion Rising" comes from the UN estimate that one in three women will be beaten, raped or violated in her lifetime. This adds up, roughly, to one billion women. Today, those one billion victims will be represented by one billion dancers, joining hands in cities all over the world.
According to V-Day College and Community Campaigns Manager Laura Waleryszak, this event, which may look like a typical flash mob at first, will soon reveal itself to be "the largest synchronized global action in history for violence against women."
Starting at noon at Daley Plaza, Chicago will "rise," kicking off the day with "booty shaking, body loving fun" from Chicago artists Cheerobix, BeMoved, Psalm One, DJ All the Way Kay, the Fabulous Ladies of Fitness (FLOF), KOKUMO, and Book of Mormon cast member and Broadway star Patrice Compton. The work of these artists, in its own way, is already about rising. Take FLOF, for example, whose monthly dance parties are "focused on wellness and women's power," Waleryszak says. After the noon kick off, those who are rising will march, or take a free trolley, from Daley Plaza to The River East Arts Center, 435 E. Illinois St., for a free dance party from 1 to 6pm.
"Son of Chamber Symphony" - Derrick Agnoletti; Photo by Christopher Duggan
The Joffrey Ballet always delivers. This is not just accounting for taste or the level of expertise and refinement in their dancing. All of those things may be true, but one fundamental difference with the company is that they are always a little surprising. They deliver on performing challenging, modern, creative, and entertaining works. When one thinks of the ballet, one often thinks of something stuffy or inaccessible, but the Joffrey has consistently produced shows that look and feel differently. This same aesthetic will be evident during the premiere of the company's "American Legends" series tonight at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University (50 E. Congress Parkway).
Flight runs throughout the 20th century, both figuratively and literally. For the latter, the 20th century was an immense moment of technological advancements leading to flight for first the few and subsequently, the many. But also, the 20th century was a time of immense social and cultural change. For the United States, it was a moment of progression for the many and the change that especially runs through the latter half of the century still affects the policies and interactions between people today.
I woke up this morning and opened my computer for my regular routine, which involves checking Facebook, my email, and my always growing list of news sources and social media sites for anything strange or out of the ordinary.
Today, nearly every one of my Facebook friends has posted about the end of the world. Some are kidding, some are serious, and some, like me, joke around about it in that uneasy way that people do when they need to laugh at things that would be terrifying if they were real.
While tomorrow's Mayan-predicted end of the world is real or not is up for speculation, everyone in this world has more immediately pressing fears that are truly and paralyzingly absolute. Earlier this week, 40 individuals bared these fears to an audience of over 700 people in a production called Fear Experiment 3.
Romanticism in performative outlets is not merely a means to highlight ideas of the beautiful. The idea of the "romantic," - in this case, focusing on love and relationships and the complications that arise within - is one that should be handled with care. Like many of the other works performed as part of the Joffrey Ballet's Human Landscapes fall engagement at the Auditorium Theatre, the routines and struggles that most of us encounter throughout our lives elicit gripping storytelling. Each work featured the live accompaniment of the Chicago Philharmonic, escalating the presence and the physicality of the movements.
Luna Negra - Bate, ft. Zoltan Katona, Eugene Peabody, Diego Tortelli; photo by Cheryl Mann
The strength of Chicago's dance scene can be found in the array of choreographers and performance styles found within the city. Like many of their contemporaries, Luna Negra Dance Theater employs a solid and experimental group of choreographers to create challenging, contemporary works that solidify their standing as one of the most important companies in Chicago. For their latest performance entitled Reencuentros, the company welcomes new works by Brazilian choreographer Fernando Melo and as well as Luna Negra Artistic Director Gustavo Ramírez Sansano. Reencuentros, a one-night only performance, takes place on Saturday, October 13 at 8pm at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance.
A strange virus known as "B1Z3" is infecting citizens of Chicago, with the CDC warning that "virus carriers have been observed performing elaborate dance routines while removing sequined corsetry before committing heinous assaults on confused onlookers." Can the Sheriff, Wife Lady, Old Dude, Best Friend and Southern Guy fend off the glitter-dusted ghouls long enough to survive?
For dancer and filmmaker LaNita Joseph, when it comes to African-American women and hair, there is no room for "relaxers"; "I think all black women should go natural," she said. Here, Joseph, founder and artistic director of the Anita Davis Dance Theater, talks about The Monologues of My Nappy Hair, a "dance drama" that addresses and challenges the standards of beauty and image in today's society.
This work was created as a result of your personal experiences -- was there one particular incident or a series of incidents that led to the idea for this show?
I would say a series of incidents over the years -- ever since I've been black... [Laughs]
There has always been a rich cultural history surrounding African-American hair and hairstyles -- as these discussions have evolved over the years, what kinds of things have you noticed? Do you think things are better?
I think they're a little bit better. I think our history with our hair has been a roller coaster -- but I don't think it's been the best it's ever been since before slavery or during the Civil Rights Movement, which is probably when natural hair was the best. But natural hair and loving blackness is slowly but surely coming back.
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.
"Bolero Chicago," the local rendition of this now-classic, audience-bred dance performance is still seeking local and non-dancing Chicagoans to join the group of 30 participants. Although the open casting calls have already passed, the currently low number of participants means that spots are still open for Chicagoans of all shapes and sizes. In fact, the less experience the better. After viewing the rehearsals for the performance earlier this week, I am convinced that this sweet treat of a performance will be one of the show stoppers during the Chicago Dancing Festival.
More information about how you can join is available here. The Chicago Dancing Festival runs from August 20 - 25 at various venues throughout the city.
The Joffrey Ballet will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Robert Joffrey's The Nutcracker this winter. In honor of this anniversary, the ballet will offer a one-day-only sale tomorrow for tickets to The Nutcracker as well as select classes at the Joffrey Academy of Dance and holiday-related merchandise from the Joffrey Store. From 7am to 7pm, fans can purchase tickets at 50% off the normal ticket price. Featuring the full Joffrey company as well as 118 young dancers from across Chicagoland, the Joffrey's version of The Nutcracker was awarded the Goldstar National Nutcracker award and named the "Best Loved Nutcracker" in the United States. Classes will be sold at $5 off the normal drop-in rate and include Pilates and Keep Fit Ballet. Merchandise will be sold at a 50% discount online or in the Joffrey Tower lobby.
Tickets may be purchased at the ballet's official box office located in the lobby of Joffrey Tower (10 East Randolph), the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University Box Office (50 East Congress Parkway), by telephone (800-982-2787), or online (with discount code CIJ).
Dana Caspersen with Hubbard Street Dancer Alejandro Cerrudo in Quintett rehearsal. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.
Glenn Edgerton, Artistic Director of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, finds inspiration in the power of choreographer William Forsythe's Quintett. Created in 1993 soon after the death of Forsythe's wife, Quintett is a personal, powerful work of solos, duets, and trios. "I see it more as an expression of life and a joyful ode to life," Edgerton said. Hubbard Street Dance Chicago will perform the American premiere of the work as part of the dance company's summer series.
For Inaside Chicago Dance (ICD) Artistic Director Richard Smith, the art of jazz dancing is real, honest and most of all, human. "Jazz always deals with human issues, human relationships, and life that we all are a part of," said Smith.
Dancers from Inaside Chicago Dance; photo: Robyn Morawski.
This month, ICD presents the "Inaside Chicago Dance Project," a concert that will debut three new works by both established and up-and-coming choreographers. One of the new works in this annual spring showcase is Smith's Lady Justice-inspired The Sides of Every Story, set to Ólafur Arnalds' "Til Enda." Rounding out the trio is a personal work by ICD's own Courtney Kozlowski, and Sinead Gildea's capsule, a story centered on the impact and effect of time in people's lives.
In his inaugural season as Artistic Director, Robert Battle and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater return to Chicago for the annual engagement at the Auditorium Theatre.
"This is the beginning of a new adventure - for the company, for me and for our audiences," Battle said recently.
Like past years, this year's engagement includes a grouping of new, eclectic, and contemporary pieces as well as the show-stopping, American classic, "Revelations." Hip-hop choreographer Rennie Harris uses a score of gospel house music for "Home," a work inspired by people living with or affected by aids. Like many of the dance theater's past works, "Home," ties together social issues and histories facing communities of color with stylistic choreography that is refreshing and new.
It is not that Marc Bamuthi Joseph sees the world differently, but that he sees the world - and some of the world's problems and challenges - more clearly than others. Much of his past work and his current performance project investigates and dissect issues of the environment for the underserved and communities of color. The rise of the green movement - despite the movement's power and importance - has also created a limited, often one-sided interpretation of and reaction to environmental issues.
"It became clear," Bamuthi began, "that there was a homogeneous population with a certain kind of literacy and a certain kind of vocabulary that bordered on jargon in terms of environmental consciousness and environmental actions."
Bamuthi's latest project at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA), red, black and GREEN: a blues, a multimedia performance work combining text, dance, and visuals and in collaboration with Chicago-artist Theaster Gates, addresses the discrepancies of the goals and actions of the environmental and green movements with the various communities often ignored.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA) today announced a gift of $10 million from Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson. Long-time supporters of both the arts and the MCA, Edlis also serves as an officer of the MCA Board and an MCA Trustee. Edlis led the museum's Collection Committee from 2004 to 2008. Neeson serves on the Exhibition Committee.
In 2000, Edlis and Neeson gave a major gift to establish the Edlis/Neeson Art Acquisition Fund that has enabled the MCA to acquire significant works for the collection, including Maurizio Cattelan's Felix (2001), Thomas Schutte's Ganz Grosse Geister (Big SpiritsXL) (2004), Jenny Holzer's For Chicago (2007), and Olafur Eliasson's Your eye activity field (2009).
Gustavo Ramirez Sansano, Monica Cervantes, Eduardo Zuniga - Photo by Jonathan Mackoff
The number of truly original stories is limited and everything else is an interpretation of those common narratives passed down from generation to generation. Artists continue to manipulate common tales using modern themes, topical issues, and their own varied interpretations to develop works that feel and look new.
In Luna Negra Dance Theater's world premiere of CARMEN.maquia, running only on Saturday, March 24 at the Harris Theater, choreographer and Artistic Director Gustavo Ramirez Sansano uses the classic and tragic romantic opera Carmen to create a highly stylized and greatly physical dance theater work.
Although he was familiar with the work, Sansano admitted in a private preview that his choreography was often interpretive-based. It was something he had known for a while and grown up with, but his better understanding of the work was more succinctly understood the more time he spent with the story and through the choreographic process for this evening-length work.
Jesse Coffelt and Rachel Damon, Synapse Arts; Erica Mott; Megan Schneeberger, Allyson Esposito, and Anne Kasdorf, The Space/Movement Project. Photos by Carl Weideman; composite created by Dan Mohr.
Rachel Damon wants you to know that dance theater is a different thing than just a dance company. She's not insinuating that one is less than the other, but for more than a year, she has garnered unanswered questions about the role each type plays for it's audience.
"I'm trying to find my way as to what my dance theater looks like," Damon said on a recent Friday afternoon.
Damon will join choreographer Erica Mott and the The Space/Movement Project for Receiver, an evening of three performances that provide different approaches to theatricality within contemporary dance. Damon, the Artistic Director of Synapse Arts, premieres Without Pause, a dance-theater performance focusing on the interaction of live sound (by percussionist Frank Rosaly), water, and motion.
Watching the US premiere of Infra by Wayne McGregor was more like walking into a living, breathing art installation at the MCA and less of what we traditionally perceive as "ballet" -- a term that stereotypically evokes images of pink tutus and satin pointe shoes.
Last Tuesday, the Seldoms rehearsed in a chilly, dark studio in the Visceral Dance Center. The rehearsal was in preparation for This Is Not A Dance Concert, an experimental and new work that kicks off the celebration of the group's 10th anniversary.
Staying true to their avant-garde spirit, this new work challenges traditional notions of performance and performance space, as the Harris Theater for Music and Dance becomes the 2nd performer. Most of the space in the venue is up for grabs, as viewers can witness the group's performers in actions in such non-traditional spaces as the bathrooms, stairs, and the house seats.
Throughout the performance, the audience also participates as they move from piece to piece on a timed schedule. This Is Not A Dance Concert is a meta-narrative about performance, turning actions such as post-performance gossip and finding one's seats into the main show.
Hubbard Street 2 dancer Alicia Delgadillo in Clébio Oliveira's The Fantastic Escape of the Little Buffalo. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.
Johnny McMillan and Emilie Leriche are stars. This proclamation is not said lightly, but after much consideration watching the two perform in Alejandro Cerrudo's Never was and Clébio Oliveira's The Fantastic Escape of the Little Buffalo, two works shown during Hubbard Street Dance Chicago's danc(e)volve: New Works Festival, co-presented by the MCA Stage.
Cerrudo, Hubbard Street's resident choreographer, created a sharp, sleek, and physically-demanding seven minute work that requires the strength and visually-arresting physicality of only the most talented of dancers. McMillan and Leriche both faced the challenge head-on, performing a deep and rich duet that leaves audiences in awe.
Never was is a fascination or near-obsession with the body and the ways in which we can challenge and manipulate it. Both dancers were compelling with movements that appeared angry with power at certain times. The loud, forceful breaths of Leriche during moments of silence in the music were a type of address and recognition of the strength and purpose of dance as a whole and the performance in particular.
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago's Taryn Kaschock Russell and Terence Marling. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.
On an unusually warm early January afternoon, dancers in Hubbard Street Dance Chicago prepared for their latest performance engagement, a festival of new choreographic works at the Museum of Contemporart Art, Chicago (MCA). Robyn Mineko Williams, a company member and second-time choreographer, led her group of four men and two women through a pulsing, sensual rehearsal of Recall, her new work for danc(e)volve: New Works Festival, curated by Hubbard Street Artistic Director Glenn Edgerton. Co-presented by MCA stage and Hubbard Street, the festival feature new choreographic work by developing choreographers from a guest artist as well as Hubbard Street dancers and directors.
In this 15-minute debut, Mineko Williams incorporates the music of Chromatics and Chris Menth into a work wherein dancers perform from different points of view and explore how such individual perspectives can distort or clarify one's perceptions of memory.
Mineko Williams began working on the piece last spring, but the bulk of the creative process occurred in late November. Although she claimed that her memory is more feeling-based, the foundation of Recall was born in those few days of brainstorming as part of the Inside/Out Choreographic Workshop.
"I had months to marinate with those images," she said.
Gapers Block is hosting our first annual Valentines Dance-a-Thon on Sunday, February 12 at Quenchers Saloon in Logan Square. We are looking for dancers and refs to take part in the event, and all are welcome to come and spectate.
Emerging choreographers Samantha Allen, Hope Goldman, and Jessie Young will debut a trio of new pieces tonight for two free performance programs titled Out on a Limb.
Created in collaboration with and performed by dancers Lindsay Reich and Katie Jean Dahlaw, Allen's KJ&L explores the relationship between performers as well as with the audience. With a sound score designed by Casey Swoyer, the performance combines abstract movement and references to other dance forms in search of meaning found through movement.
From blues and gospel to jazz and R&B, when it comes to female singers, Chicago has certainly produced some of the best; this week, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater pays homage to the music of these singing sensations in Chicago Women of Song.
"Originally, it was going to be called 'Women of Song,' " said artistic director, Kevin Iega Jeff. "When we began to work more with The Publicity Works, we began to focus more on Chicago women."
The MCA Chicago continues its year of in-depth, audience-focused changes with its latest MCA Stage production, The Matter of Origins. Choreographed by original Dance Exchange artistic director Liz Lerman, this multimedia-heavy and theatrical performance continues to push the boundaries of contemporary dance. The work is co-presented with the Chicago Humanities Festival, whose 2011 theme of Technology runs through the core of the dance work.
In a press release, Lerman said that The Matter of Origins examines, "how the human mind flips and stretches to comprehend things that are incredibly small, large, fast, or far beyond the categories of known experience." For the traditional dance fan, the performance offers a one-of-a-kind experience that draws on both history and the reactions of audience members.
Michael Gross and Jessica Wolfrum are busy. The life of a River North Chicago Dance Company member demands a lot, but the rewards are plentiful. And for a company as distinguished and praised as River North Dance, the rewards can be as abstract as personal connections to each choreographed dance piece to performance trips around the world.
Gross and Wolfrum are freshly back from a trip to Germany where the company performed their "On the Edge," and "Flavors of American Jazz" program. Each program showcases the diversity of the company's repertoire, with works that vary between the accessible and the abstract.
"I have found that the pieces we have in our repertoire provide a very diverse range of techniques and styles to consistently provide challenges for the dances," Gross began. "We like challenges. They are the things that help us to constantly push ourselves to improve and become the most versatile artists that we can possible be."
For Rasta Thomas, when it comes to dancing, it's all about artistry, innovation and acrobatic choreography. Here, the founder and director of Bad Boys of Dance discusses the company's diverse appeal and why they're known as one of the baddest dance troupes around.
How did Bad Boys of Dance come about?
I was always in awe of and inspired by the great male dancers of the world--Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Baryshnikov--and aspired to be the greatest male dancer I could be. When I was training, I enjoyed the brotherhood of having male role models and throughout my whole career, I was always looking for a place to call home--for the one company that would turn me into that dancer I always aspired to be. Unfortunately, by the time it came for me to join a company, the directors were more interested in raising funds and that was a little disheartening. I got to a point where I said, "I'm going to have to be my own director and take the situation in my own hands and create the company I want." That's when I put together Bad Boys of Dance.
What was your vision going in?
I tried to form a "boy band" of the dance world. I think it's something about guys coming together to entertain and perform.
If you are a minority choreographer, The Joffrey Ballet has exciting news for you--a call for artists--with a chance to be one of the recipients of the Choreographers of Color Award. The award, now in its second year, is designed to heighten awareness of the work of minority choreographers.
A synopsis of the guidelines is as follows:
Applicants must be age 18 and up.
All choreography must be original work.
The completed work must last 10-12 minutes.
Interested applicants must complete the online application, submit a letter of interest, a 5-minute or less DVD of their choreography, a headshot and curriculum vitae with 3 references. Note: There is no submission fee.
All material must be mailed to: The Joffrey Ballet, Attn: Choreographers of Color Competition Selection Committee, 10 E. Randolph St., Chicago, IL, 60601.
The application deadline is October 1, 2011; all winners will be notified by November 1, 2011.
Sunlight filtered in through the windows of the Ruth Page Center for the Arts. Like past dance companies, the River North Chicago Dance Company used the cozy rehearsal space to finalize 9-Person Precision Ball Passing, a company premiere by Charlie Moulton. Nine dancers stood on a set of black stairs performing a largely upper-body based routine featuring repetitive hand gestures and minor juggling feats with colored balls. The entire routine looked not unlike the clapping games little children practice on school playgrounds.
On the surface, the movements appear simple, but a closer examination demonstrates how the movements grow increasingly more complicated rhythmically as the routine progresses. Stay calm and carry on was the motto of the routine as additional pressure to stay on the varying beat of the accompanying music demonstrated the various manifestations of contemporary dance.
I'm not sure when it happened, but eventually I couldn't even fathom touching them. I'm talking about bugs, of various shapes and sizes and kinds. When I first transferred to public school, I spent my recess time alone, crouched behind the tall trees and bushes of my elementary school. I collected samples -- of leaves, of dirty, of bugs -- as a means of examination and exploration. The minuscule became monumental.
In their latest production, OVO (written and directed by Deborah Colker), Cirque du Soleil employs this same idea. Bugs are the focus and after viewing the fantastical and lovely performance, one can't help but wonder why this sort of focus -- on multiple spindly legs and corporeal manipulation -- is just now being used as thematic source.
The charisma, technicality, and athleticism of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater sets the group apart from other contemporaries. Works such as the masterpiece "Revelations" invoke a fiery, visceral reaction in the audience. The group returns to Chicago beginning tonight for an eclectic engagement that includes six Chicago premieres at the Auditorium Theatre (50 East Congress).
Company member Glenn Allen Sims claimed that first watching the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater perform motivated him to push forward more aggressively in his dance practice.
"It really motivated me to just want to dance," Sims said. Originally from New Jersey, Sims first auditioned for the theater in 1993. In 1997, he graduated from Julliard and auditioned again. Since then, his immense talents have been broadcast in a number of different performances, some of which will be making their local debut.
The Joffrey Ballet dancers are a sight to behold. In their element - long limbs, quick movements - they make the work of their guest choreographers appear effortless and enigmatic. Company member Fabrice Calmels is particularly captivating in his distinctive height and strength though as a whole, the company's performances as part of Rising Stars are a bright spot of the 2011 season.
The performances throughout the evening highlighted the strength and athleticism of the dancers. Set to the music of "Night Grooves" by composer Matthew Pierce and inspired by the paintings of Marc Chagall, Night, a company premiere, was a showcase for quick, elongated movements. The female lead was noticeably shorter than her fellow company members which added to the dynamics of the choreography as she had to make up for and further emphasize the elongation of the piece. Julia Adam's choreography, despite the rapid pacing appears fluid on the stage. At times, the dancers' movements are playful, further corresponding with the thematic elements and musical accompaniment.
The process of storytelling constantly evolves and adapts to the demands, technology, and forms of communication that dominate contemporary society. In the rehearsals for Mordine & Company Dance Theater's debut spring performance, LifeSpeak, Founder, Artistic Director, and choreographer Shirley Mordine undertook a similar approach to the development of her work. On a cold, gray, and blistery Monday afternoon, five women and one man took light direction from Mordine and manipulated the choreography already set in place in order to better tell the story behind the performance.
"The dance is itself. It could be quite different from where you started," Mordine said. "Similar to listening to music, you don't expect the music to be illustrative of what was just written on the paper. It's just a point of departure."
The award-winning and unbelievably-touching documentary, Bouncing Cats, is screening tomorrow at 5pm at the Wicker Park Art Center as part of the International Movies & Music Festival. The film follows Crazy Legs (of the Rock Steady Crew) as he unifies and empowers youth in Uganda, teaching them to breakdance through his "Breakdance Project Uganda".
The film, directed by Nabil Elderkin, narrated by Common and featuring interviews with Will.I.Am, Mos Def and K'Naan, has won four awards on the film festival circuit recently including the Audience Award for "Best Feature Documentary" at the Bahamas International Film Festival this past December.
Tomorrow's event will include interview opportunities and a live Q&A session with Crazy Legs after the film screening.
CIMM Festival Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at cimmfest.org. Donations for Breakdance Project Uganda are accepted at bouncingcats.com, where you can also find more information about the film and the Breakdance Project Uganda.
Jazz musician Miles Davis' work-- eclectic, enigmatic, and full-bodied-- is the inspiration and soundtrack to River North Chicago Dance Company's latest performance. Titled Simply Miles, Simply Us, the original work was choreographed by artistic director Frank Chaves with assistance from company members Christian Denice and Ricky Ruiz. Featuring some of Davis' most influential and groundbreaking pieces such as "Blue in Green," from the 1959 album Kind of Blue, and an excerpt from the 1970 double album, Bitches Brew, Simply Miles, Simply Us, promises a diverse array of Davis' work.
The world premiere performance marks not only a first for the dance company for the venue. This is the first time the Auditorium Theatre, in conjunction with the Wharton Center for the Performing Arts at Michigan State University, has commissioned a new work. The performance is also presented as part of the the theatre's ongoing Miles Davis Festival, a city-wide celebration marking the 85th anniversary of Illinois native Davis' birth. In addition to the one-night-only debut performance, the company will also present additional work from Chaves as well as choreographers Sherry Zunker, Ashley Roland, and Robert Battle.
Tickets (starting at $30) for the April 16 engagement are on sale and available at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University box office at 50 East Congress Parkway, online, or by calling Ticketmaster at 800-982-2787. The performance begins at 8pm.
Chicago will be represented during the new season of "America's Best Dance Crew," MTV's reality-based competition series for street dancing. Led by "American Idol" staple Randy Jackson and hosted by Mario Lopez, the show's sixth season will feature Chicago's own FootworKingz, an ensemble dance crew that specializes in "footworkin'," an energetic, fast-paced dance style that has been described as "part tap, African tribal, and breaking."
This isn't the first televised competition for the FootworKingz; they were also finalists in the fourth season of NBC's "America's Got Talent."
Catch the FootworKingz as they go for it all on the season premiere of "America's Best Dance Crew," airing Thursday, April 7 at 9pm on MTV.
Last night, former Cabrini-Green residents gathered at the last remaining high-rise building, 1230 N. Burling, to celebrate the community's life while wishing it farewell. A few short speeches were made to the press, but the highlights were mixing with friends, performances by ThaBrigade Stamps Marching Band and the installation in the building itself.
The band performed several numbers for the crowd as the sun set.
If you haven't made plans for Friday yet, consider buying a ticket for Urban Gateways' 50th Anniversary Gala &/or Gala Undone After Party. Gala starts at 6pm, and tickets are a steep $350, but the after party (Gala Undone) is affordable for normal folks, with tickets going for $40 in advance or $50 at the door. The event will feature veteran Urban Gateways artist James "Casper" Jankowiak, who will create an interactive mural during the event, a performance by Urban Gateways touring artists and resident performing ensemble of the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, BAM! and a late-night dance party to the music of DJ Mister Wolf (of Only Children). Also on hand will be plenty of munchies, an open bar and a silent auction.
Gala Undone will take place this Friday, April 1 from 9:30 to midnight at Venue One (1044 W. Randolph). More details here.
Photographer Todd Diederich has been documenting the city's ball scene as part of an ongoing project funded by The Propeller Fund. Earlier this month, he arrived at a South Side karate studio for a ball, and instead found himself at a seminar on "dry humping" for lesbians.
Hubbard Street dancers Penny Saunders and Jonathan Fredrickson in Ohad Naharin's THREE TO MAX.
THREE TO MAX, a new work incorporating elements of past works Three and Max by artistic director Ohad Naharin, was an innovative representation of anti-dance but ultimately fell short of its promise, due in no small part to the varying skill of the performers. The repetitions of the moves highlighted the imbalance of certain performers. Naharin's choreography is built on strength and one fall or wobbling limb was apparent and a distraction during the show.
Despite this situation, the choreography was, at many times, humorous and a frank play on elements of different dance genres. Each vignette not only deconstructed the dancer's body but also how the audience views and engages with dance performances. A dancer would conform to the dancers around him or her, and then break apart from the crowd. Despite the action surrounding him or her, the audience would ultimately feel compelled to focus on the individual. As a statement to the ethos (if there is any) to anti-dance, it was a compelling one.
The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago presents Same Planet Different World Dance Theatre offering a program filled with a variety of dance choreography, including a world premiere.
In Grey Noise, choreographed by company Artistic Director Joanna Rosenthal and inspired by 1940s and '50s film noir, five dancers perform an intensely physical and emotional piece that depicts people consumed by an edgy and unpredictable environment.
Also on the program is the world premiere of HIT, by choreographer Carl Flink, where dancers are depicted in a "singular event" atmosphere and where collision, not victory is the goal. Additional performances include To Have and to Hold, with choreography by Daniel Shapiro and Joanie Smith, and a free, family-friendly dance matinee on Saturday, March 12.
Same Planet Different World Dance Theatre performs Thursday through Saturday, March 10-12, at 8pm, at The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, 1306 S. Michigan Ave. Tickets are $26-30. The Family Dance Matinee takes place Saturday, March 12 at 3pm; children age 12 and under are free; adults, $15. For tickets, call 312-369-8330. For more information about SPDW, visit spdwdance.org.
Winifred Haun & Dancers will premiere Bento & other dances, a six-performance program that includes two premieres, Bento and Disquiet, both choreographed by Haun.
Bento, a group work performed by ten dancers, explores "the concept of the box," and incorporates dances within a dance; while Disquiet, which centers on the talents of dancer and choreographer Lonny Gordon, is a solo dance incorporated with heavy "footwork."
The "other dances" on the program include the audience favorite, Close My Eyes, the quartet Remake, excerpts from Haun's critically acclaimed ballet Promise and The Woman Who Fed Her Diamonds to the Goldfish Bowl, performed by Lindsey Frattare.
Bento & other dances runs Thursday and Friday, March 17 and 18 at 7:30pm at the Hamlin Park Theater, 3035 N. Hoyne. General admission tickets are $20 and can be purchased online. For more information, visit the website or call 773-454-9843.
Rehearsal floors scuffed by years of wear and tear stood out against the gray skyline of the Chicago loop. The rehearsals for the Joffrey Ballet's latest production, The Merry Widow, were in contrast to the gorgeous, sumptuous theatrical feast of the live production. Still, the vivacity of the live show -- consistently humorous and a visual treat for the senses -- was evident among the performances by the cast members and the enthusiasm of original choreographer Ronald Hynd.
Originally an adaptation of Franz Lehar's The Merry Widow, Hynd's choreography (coupled with lush costumes by Roberta Guidi di Bagno and orchestral accompaniment by the Chicago Sinfonietta) showcases a love story between the beautiful widow, Hanna Glawari and the Count Danilo, during the glitz and glamor of 20th century Paris.
"I started with a blank canvas," Hynd said. "I had to bring the thing down to its essence, to what the music was saying. Follow the music and the spirit of the music, and the show reveals many intriguing cross currents."
This morning, local favorites Hubbard Street Dance Chicago were awarded a 2011 Joyce Foundation award in Dance, the only 2011 Chicago-based awardee. The award includes a prize of $50,000 in support of a multi-year collaboration with choreographer Alonzo King and San Francisco-based LINES Ballet. Both dance companies plan on performing a new work by King in Chicago, the first in the city in more than a decade.
In anticipation of the collaboration, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago pushes forward later this year with a performance of Following the Subtle Current Upstream, a work choreographed by King. Part of the 2011 Summer Series at Harris Theater for Music and Dance, the performances begin May 19.
It's a snowy December night on the South Side and the ballroom has filled up quickly. There are guys in tailored suits, girls in red-heeled Louboutins. There are pop-gothy capes and futuristic glasses. The crowd is gathered around a catwalk -- and everyone is young, black and queer.
This is a ball. An underground LGBTQ contest where participants compete by "walking" -- showing off themed outfits and voguing -- a stylized house dance that continues to evolve. They are competing for trophies and the hope to become "legendary" -- famous not only in Chicago but the entire community, which now spans the globe. Balls found fame with Paris is Burning, a documentary about the New York scene, but Chicago's had its own ball circuit for as long as New York -- one that has its own trends, culture and history. And as the Internet popularizes the community, Chicago is seeing another wave in the resurgence of balls.
The Pilobolus Dance Theatre celebrates its 40th year with a debut performance at the Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph, Chicago. This highly athletic and acrobatic dance troupe, world-renowned for its unique and creative form of modern dance, will perform as part of the theater's Teen Arts Exploration Project.
Pilobolus Dance Theatre. Photo: John Kane
Pilobolus' program will consist of diverse performances that include one of its first works, Walklyndon, a dance with slapstick and other physical humor, and The Transformation, a piece created in collaboration with "SpongeBob SquarePants" head writer, Steven Banks.
Also included in the program is the revival of Duet, a classic work dealing with "intimacy" and "misunderstanding." This performance of Duet is the first in almost a decade and was reinstated to celebrate the company's 40th anniversary.
You can see the Pilobolus Dance Theatre during its limited run on Friday, Jan. 28 and Saturday, Jan. 29 at 7:30pm. Tickets are $25-$55 and are on sale at the Harris Theater box office and online. Contact 312-334-7777 for more information.
The Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago, an African and African-American dance company dedicated to providing audiences with performances that are "designed to invigorate, enliven, and celebrate the collective human spirit," kicks off its 34th annual fall concert season with "Dancing in the Spirit."
"Dancing in the Spirit" is composed of three different performances including Gye Nyame ("omnipotence of God"), a new work by acclaimed New York choreographer Ronald K. Brown and Pearl, a combination of two works by legendary dancer and choreographer Dr. Pearl Primus, including A Negro Speaks of Rivers (an interpretation of the Langston Hughes poem) and Hard Time Blues. In addition, the show will include Sounds of Sabar, a musical arrangement by Muntu's Aly M'Baye and a djembe drum talk entitled, Djalli Wasso Tam-Tam.
"Dancing in the Spirit" will be performed at the Gary Comer Youth Center, 7200 S. Ingleside (at the corner of 72nd & S. South Chicago Ave). Shows are Thursday, Dec. 2 and Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 4-5 (show times vary); tickets are $8-$27.50. For more information, contact 773-241-6086.
HS2 dancers Yarinet Restrepo, Nicholas Korkos, and Katie Scherman in "Harold and the Purple Crayon: A Dance Adventure."
Let's be honest--the options in children's dance programs aren't exactly plentiful, rarely extending beyond annual performances of the Nutcracker. While Nutcracker has become a favorite family tradition for many Chicagoans each holiday season, any additional dance productions for children offered throughout the year are a welcome surprise. Perhaps this is why there's been such excitement brewing for Hubbard Street 2's upcoming production of "Harold and the Purple Crayon: A Dance Adventure." The December 4 performance, based on the beloved children's book, presents dance to children in an accessible, interactive way.
The 60-minute program, choreographed by Terence Marling and Robyn Mineko Williams, and set to music by indie rocker Andrew Bird, garnered positive attention in the Washington Post following its Nov. 13 premiere at the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater. The Post described "the melodies and movements" as "wide-eyed" and the "liquid dance a la Harold..., confident and lovely."
HS2 will present "Harold and the Purple Crayon: A Dance Adventure" at 3 pm on December 4 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. Tickets to the program, which is sponsored by Target, are only $5 each, and may be purchased online at harristheaterchicago.org or by phone at 312-334-7777.
The Chicago Human Rhythms Project (CHRP) will conclude its 20th season during Thanksgiving weekend performances at Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph St. Audiences can view four different programs in the "Global Rhythms" series, November 26-28. Additionally, when you purchase a ticket to any of these performances, you'll be giving back to Chicago area non-profits through the Thanks 4 Giving program. You will receive a ten percent discount just by mentioning an area non-profit when purchasing your ticket. Plus, CHRP will donate 50 percent of the revenue from your ticket purchase to the organization you mention.
"Global Rhythms" features an ecclectic mix of performers, such as CHRP's BAM!, Step Afrika!, Diabolus in Musica, Jump Rhythm Jazz Project, and more. For a full listing of performers at each show, visit CHRP. Performances take place Nov. 26 at 8pm, Nov. 27 at 3 pm and 8 pm, and Nov. 28 at 3 pm. Tickets are $15-55 and are available by calling 312-334-7777 or visiting harristheaterchicago.org.
The Renegade Performance Group, a dance company "dedicated to creating an atmosphere that will facilitate dialogue compelled by the human experience," presents its world premiere of Project: CO-OP, a dance performance whose mission is to enlighten the audience about the "absurdity of perfection." Choreographed by co-artistic director Andre Zachery from Chicago's South Side, Project: CO-OP will feature a combination of various dance styles including contemporary, modern and hip-hop.
RNCDC's Brandon DiCriscio (left) and Jeff Wolfe in "Forbidden Boundariies."
Photo by Erika Dufour.
On November 13, River North Chicago Dance Company will celebrate its 21st birthday in a one-night engagement at Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph Dr. The program will feature the world premier of Sidra Bell's "Risoluta," with an original score composed by her father, jazz pianist and composer Dennis Bell. RNCDC's November engagement will feature additional works from the company's repertoire including Robert Battle's "Three," RNCDC Artistic Director Frank Chaves' "Forbidden Boundaries" and a revival of Chaves' 1994 sensual duet "Fixe."
Tickets to the Harris Theater fall engagement are $30-$65 and are currently on sale at harristheaterchicago.org or by phone at 312-334-7777. For an additional $10,
guests can enjoy cake and champagne in celebration of RNCDC's 21st birthday during intermission in the Harris Theater's private lounge on the 2nd floor.
On October 28 and 29, Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba will light up Roosevelt University's Auditorium Theatre with flamenco, ballet and contemporary dance set to Spanish and Afro-Cuban rhythms. The company, made up of eighteen female dancers, celebrates the uniqueness of Cuban culture in this lively two-night engagement.
Performances take place October 28 at 7:30 pm and October 29 at 8 pm, at Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Pkwy. Tickets run $30-69 and may be purchased by phone at 800.982.ARTS (2787), online at Ticketmaster.com, or at the Auditorium Theatre Box Office, 50 E. Congress Parkway.
A scene from Yasuko Yokoshi's "Tyler Tyler." Photo by Shimpei Takeda
The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago presents the Chicago debut of Hiroshima-born choreographer Yasuko Yokoshi, October 28-30. Yokoshi's work "Tyler Tyler," offers a contemporary perspective on Kabuki Su-odori dance, a stripped-down form of Kabuki that has been reverred for its purity and simplicity. Yokoshi's inspiration for the piece was The Tale of the Heike, a classic 12th-century Japanese epic of warring clans that documents desire for dominatin and the inevitable fall from power.
The cast consists of two U.S. dancers, a U.S. musician, and three Japanese dancers/actors who trained with Masumi Seyama, revered master teacher of Kabuki Su-odori dance. Yokoshi has deconstructed and rearranged Fujima's classic repertory with postmodern techniques and has created original choreography that examins the nature of a cultural identity.
Chicagoans can take advantage of the rare opportunity to view Kabuki Su-odori through a contemporary lens during one of three performances October 28-30 at 8 pm each evening. Performances take place at The Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan Ave. Tickets are $26-30, and may be purchased via The Dance Center website. There will be a post-performance discussion with the artists following the October 28 performance.
"So You Think You Can Dance" is more than just the name of a popular television show--it is can also be used to describe the dancers who will compete in Dance Slam.
Dance Slam, part of Dance Chicago 2010, is an interactive dance competition featuring dancers from the Chicagoland area and beyond, who perform various styles of dance including modern, tap, jazz, ballet and hip hop.
The award-winning competition, now in its 14th year, will showcase dancers who will strut their stuff in five-minute (or less) routines, where the audience gets to pick the winner.
Dance Slam will be held Friday, Oct. 22 at University of Chicago's Mandel Hall, 1131 E. 57th St; the competition begins at 7:30pm. Tickets are $25 and are available online or at the door (cash only). Contact 773-989-0698 for more information.
In case you hadn't heard, the Joffrey Ballet's lovely Victoria Jaiani appears on the cover of this month's Dance Magazine. The Chicago Sun-Times dance critic Hedy Weiss provides a glimpse into the exquisite dancer's life and career in a four-page feature story. You can read the full article (minus the decadent photos) at dancemagazine.com.
Join the Joffrey Ballet October 13-24 for All Stars, its opening production of the 2010-2011 Season. Featuring works from some of ballet's most-beloved choreographers, the program is sure to continue the momentum of the Joffrey's highly successful 2009-2010 season, which brought Chicagoans the unforgettable production "Othello." All Stars features three Joffrey Premieres created by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, and Christopher Wheeldon.
Balanchine's dramatic "Stravinsky Violin Concerto" remembers the choreographer's friend igor with an energetic tribute. Robbins' "The Concert (or, the Perils of Everybody)," provides a comedic exploration of an audience's fantasies at a Chopin piano recital, infused with social commentary. Wheeldon's stark, spiritual, and sensual "After the Rain," showcases a series of three emotional duets. Additionally, the Joffrey will reprise Balanchine's explosive "Tarantella" showcases a pas de deux of quick and complex movement.
Luna Negra Dance Theater opens its 2010-2011 Chicago Season on October 16. Fans won't want to miss this performance, the company's first production under the direction of new Artistic Director Gustavo Ramirez Sansano. Luna Negra will perform the world premiere of Sansano's "Toda una Vida," the North American Premiere of "Bate" by Frenando Melo, and a revival of "Deshár Alhát," by Luna Negra's founder Eduardo Vilaro. Follwoing the perfromance the company presents the Noche Luna Gala including festive cocktails, savory Latin cuisine, and dancing to the sounds of Latin band Son de la Habana.
The fall performance takes place Saturday, October 16, at 6:30 pm, at Harris Theater in Millennium Park, 205 E. Randolph St. Tickets are $25-$55, and may be purchased by calling 312-334-7777 or visiting www.harristheater.org. Reservations for the Nocha Luna Gala may be made by calling 312-337-6882.
Artemis (Stephanie Anderson) and Orion (Brian Humpherys)
Fans of Greek mythology, theatre, and/or dance might just want to check out a new production by Innervation Dance Cooperative entitled "Gods, Monsters, and Heroes." The company has reinvented the colorful tales of Zeus and Hera, Demeter and Persephone, Odysseus, Medusa, Athena, the Amazons, and more through a variety of dance styles, set to contemporary rock music. The evening-long production illustrates these popular stories with a mix of tap, modern, and ballet influences. In this production, IDC adheres to the company's foundation as a blend of theatre and dance, through their expressive movement, all put together collaboratively between ten choreographers and 28 dancers.
Watching IDC rehearse Act I and portions of Act II, it is clear that the dancers are having a blast, and their energy translates to the viewer. The company does a great job of communicating comedy in the show, particularly in Apollo and Marsyas, and The Sirens. The "Tap Warriors" in Birth of Zeus nail some fancy footwork, and the interaction between Demeter (Rachel Doucet) and Persephone (Stephanie Unger) showcases some particularly lovely choreography. The music selection complements the storylines, including selections from artists such as Pink, Feist, Coldplay, and Beck.
HSDC dancers Penny Saunders and Jesse Bechard in Arcangelo. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.
September 30, 2010--Hubbard Street Dance Chicago always surprises with their repertoire. Each of their performances is so different from the one prior, unified by the unwavering talent of the HSDC dancers. The company stretches the bounds of contemporary dance--which are expansive to begin with--consistently transforming movement in ways that can reach even the most reluctant performance-goer. Their performances present such a variety that there's sure to be something that impacts each segment of their audience.
HDSC's Fall Series, performed September 30-October 3 at Harris Theater, includes four pieces that not only exhibit this variety, but showcase the unfailing athleticism and grace of the dancers. The first piece, Alejandro Cerrudo's Blanco, leaves the viewer with a calm sense of satisfaction. An abstract work featuring four women--Laura Halm, Jesssica Tong, Meredith Dincolo, and Robyn Mineko Williams in the opening performance--the piece emphasizes extensions and liquid movement. Despite the demanding choreography, the movements seem gentle and organic, with limbs gliding like silk.
Elaborately costumed performers re-enact the 1809 Napoleonic Battle of Aspen-Essling, one of Europe's bloodiest conflicts. Suddenly, cameras roll on to the stage, someone shouts out directions to the actors on stage, and the scene shifts from a supposed re-enactment to a scene from a live filming. In EMPIRE (Art & Politics), collaborators Superamas create a hybrid theater production that acts not only as a counter-history to European modernity, but also as a comedic meta-narrative.
How is reality constructed and manipulated through the stories we share? EMPIRE (Art & Politics) moves from a re-enactment to a behind the scenes glimpse of the film process to a premiere party for said film. Along the way, the story morphs from one idea to the next and it is ultimately up to the audience to determine the truth in the tale. Combining elements of theater, new media, visual art, and contemporary dance, Vienna and Paris-based collaborative Superamas explore themes of everyday life. In the case of their latest production, the way we create, interpret and ultimately understand stories is as relevant to Napoleonic-era Europeans as it is to modern day, hyper-connected global citizens. EMPIRE (Art & Politics) is running in conjunction with the exhibition Luc Tuymans, and as part of the MCA Global Stage series at the MCA Stage. The MCA Stage is located at 220 E Chicago Ave. Tickets are $28, $22 for MCA members and $10 for students. Purchase tickets through the MCA Box Office or by phone at 312-397-4010.
Winifred Haun & Dancers' Flash Mob at the Milwaukee Ave Arts Festival
You've imagined the stumped looks on the faces of unassuming bystanders. You've be dying to find out what it would be like to bust out your dance moves on a seemingly random day, in a seemingly random public place. Guess what? Here's your chance to join a flash mob!
Winifred Haun & Dancers are hosting a flash mob in Oak Park on Saturday, October 9 as part of Oak Park's annual Artrageous!. One performance will take place on the steps of the Hemingway Museum (aka Arts Center), 339 N. Oak Park Ave., at 11 am, and the other on the plaza of the Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake St. at 12 pm. You'll be dancing to the tunes of Stevie Wonder and George Crumb. There will be professional dancers dancing with you, so you'll have somewhere to turn if you forget your moves.
Alaska-born, Native American choreographer Emily Johnson and her company, Catalyst, will peform "The Thank-you Bar" October 7-10 at The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago. The Chicago premiere features dance, live music, storytelling, and visual images for an intimate, onstage audience. The work, featuring Johson's choreography, as well as music by James Everest and Joel Pickard (Blackfish), weaves themes of displacement, longing, and language with history, architecture, and igloo-myth.
A popular performance that has been designed for small audiences, the October 7 and 8 performances have sold out. Tickets are still available for the 9 pm performance on October 9, which will feature a special performance by Blackfish, as well as two performances that have been added to the original schedule at 3 and 5 pm on October 10. Admission is $26-30 for each performance of "The Thank-you Bar," and $15 for the Blackfish concert. Tickets are general admission and space is limited. To purchase tickets or for more information visit The Dance Center of Columbia College website, or call 312-369-8330. All performances take place at The Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 S. Michigan Ave.
In celebration of ten years at their 1306 S. Michigan Ave. location, the Dance Center of Columbia College will present 13 hours of free dance performances, workshops, and classes on Saturday, Sept. 25. The event, 1306 - Ten Years Later, will fill the studios, theater, hallways, and even the stairwells of 1306 S. Michigan Ave. with activity from 10 am until 11 pm. Whether looking to learn how to dance, or to sit down and enjoy innovative contemporary pieces, audiences of all ages will find something to enjoy at 1306 - Ten Years Later.
Famed choreographer, Lar Lubovitch, will bring his internationally acclaimed dance company to Harris Theater for Music and Dance on September 22 and 23 at 7:30 pm.
Chicagoans were treated to Lubovitch's "Othello" during the Joffrey Ballet's 2009-2010 season. This week's performances will offer Chicago audiences a further sampling of the world-renowned choreographer's extensive body of works.
The Lar Lubovitch Dance Company headlines Harris Theatre's See the Dance series with two different performances, mixing Lubovitch classics, as well as newer works. On September 22, audiences will be treated to "North Star" (1978), "Duet from Meadow" (199), "Coltrane's Favorite Things" (2010), and "Marimba" (1976). The September 23 performance will feature "North Star," "Dogs of War" (2010), "Nature Boy: Kurt Elling" (2005), and "Calvalcade" (1980).
Both performances take place at the Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph, 7:30 pm, Sept. 22 and 23. Tickets for Lar Lubovitch Dance Company are available at the Harris Theater box office, 205 E. Randolph Dr.,by calling 312-334-7777, or via the Harris Theater website.
Last night at Links Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield, Under Construction Dance Project presented the first night of their show, "Socio-Analytic Perspectives on Gender Culture through Dance." In order to present their examination of gender through dance, co-creators, Philip Elson and Samantha Spriggs, students of the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, took advantage of Links Hall's Linkages program, which provides studio space and tech support for self-producing artists. Their three-night production features other Columbia University dance and performing arts students, as well as independent artists from the Chicago area.
To kick off its 2010 season, the West Indian Folk Dance Company presents CULTURE!, with signature pieces that showcase the African & West Indian dance tradition, including a tribute to reggae music legend Bob Marley. Directed by Alfred Baker, CULTURE! features "Marley & a Million," a traditional and modern West Indian dance performance designed to capture the spirit of and meaning behind the singer's most popular songs.
Other CULTURE! pieces include the ballet "Tomato" and "Kumina," a piece featuring the traditional West African dance style that was brought to Jamaica.
CULTURE! runs August 27-29, 2010 at Links Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield; Friday and Saturday performances are at 8pm, Sunday at 6pm. General admission tickets are $20, $12 for seniors, $15 for students under age 10 or for groups of 10 or more. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online. Contact 773-281-0824 for more information.
Chicago Dance Crash is pulling out all the stops for their last performances of Qwan Sauce!. Inspired by dance movies in the vein of You Got Served and Save the Last Dance, Qwan Sauce! has dancer Daniel "Qwan" Gibson combining his signature breakdancing moves with the talents of the Dance Crash crew. This performance is markedly different than previous Dance Crash showcases, as it parodies today's dance films in a way that's entertaining and humorous. Qwan dances opposite of Becky, a girl in the big dance world fighting for a chance into Juliard. Will Qwan and Becky both realize their dreams, or will they be crushed by rivals Corey Worley and Culture Shock Chicago in grand KTF style? Catch the this weekend's performances of Qwan Sauce! to find out.
Qwan Sauce! runs Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 3pm at the brand new venue Stage 773 (1225 W. Belmont). Tickets are $18 with advance reservations and $20 at the door. Make your advance reservations by calling Stage 773 at 773-327-5252.
For dance lovers who've been feeling the dry spell that the summer months often bring to the local performance scene, you're about to get your thirst quenched. The Chicago Human Rhythm Project will present "JUBA! Masters of Tap and Percussive Dance," August 4, 5, and 7 at the Museum of Contemporary Art. CHRP carries on the tradition of tap dance in America, celebrating the heritage of the art form and fostering its continued development in the community through education and scholarships for young tappers, and year-round performances. This year's "JUBA! Masters of Tap and Percussive Dance" will showcase the abundant talent of CHRP. No two performances the same, each show will feature different sets of performers and repertoire. The final presentation with feature BAM!, CHRP's resident ensemble, as well as other popular Chicago tap ensembles, including the Cartier Collective, Chicago Tap Theatre, Jump Rhythm Jazz Project, Jus'LisTeN, and MADD Rhythms.
Performances take place at 7:30 pm, Wednesday, Aug. 4, Thursday, Aug. 5, and Saturday, Aug. 7. CHRP will present all three shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave. Tickets to the "JUBA!" performances are $30 for non-Rhythm World participants, and are selling out quickly. To reserve yours, or to find out more about CHRP, visit http://chicagotap.org, or call 773-281-1825.
The Orion Ensemble, Chicago's nationally recognized chamber music ensemble, has announced a jam-packed season of music beginning this September. The 2010-2011 season will include four programs, featuring works from composers such as Robert Schumann, Astor Piazzolla, and Ludwig Van Beethoven. Orion Ensemble will also feature an all-French program in November, including César Franck's Sonata in A Major for Violin and/or Cello; Jean Françaix's Trio for Clarinet, Viola and Piano (1990); and Théodore Dubois's Quintet in F Major for Piano, Clarinet, Violin, Viola and Cello (1905).
Along with their musical offerings, Orion Ensemble will partner with Ballet Chicago for their February 27, March 6, and March 9 performances. These showings will feature the debut of Orion Ensemble's "Instruments of Revelation" by Victoria Bond. Dancers will perform the choreography of Ballet Chicago Director Daniel Duell.
Flamenco beats and Spanish flair will energize the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie this weekend as the 34th annual International American Spanish Dance Festival culminates in three performances of Flamenco Passion. A much-anticipated event each year, Northeastern Illinois University's Chicago's Ensemble Español Center for Spanish Dance and Music has once again brought together a sampling of the best in Spanish art, music, and dance for a celebration of "Spain in America." To close out a week of art exhibits, music performances, and master classes, Flamenco Passion will feature three world premieres, showcasing a wide range of flamenco styles.
Flamenco Passion performances will take place at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, 9501 Skokie Blvd. Friday, June 25 and Saturday June 26 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, June 27 at 3 pm Tickets are $26-$46. Free parking is available. For tickets or more information call 847-673-6300 or visit northshorecenter.org.
In "Of Fleeting Things," dance choreographer Dmitri Peskov explores the brevity of life and the events that affect it. For Peskov, "Life itself consists of fleeting things: Suffering, beauty, prayer, meditation, the follies of human relationships--all pass and all end."
"Of Fleeting Things" is the story of two characters who are opposites: One, played by dancer Paul Christiano, begins with a comedic persona that ends tragically; the other, played by Peskov, starts "in darkness but ends in light." Peskov is also featured in several solo performances including "Falling Man" and "Narcissus," performed silently and without clothing.
The Dmitri Peskov Dance Theatre's makes its debut with the world premiere of "Of Fleeting Things" at Links Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield, Friday and Saturday, June 11 and 12 at 8pm, and Sunday, June 13 at 7pm. Tickets are $15-$18, ($12 for students) and are available at Links Hall or by calling 773-281-0824.
After viewing Hubbard Street Dance Chicago's Summer Series, which opened last night, June 3, 2010 at Harris Theater, I can't help but feel a lingering sense of enchantment. HSDC showcased the remarkable range of its dancers with the comic yet ethereal "Bitter Suite," the intoxicating world premiere of "Untouched," and the athletically-demanding "Bordo."
A scene from "Untouched." Photo by Todd Rosenberg
Jorma Elo's opening piece "Bitter Suite," updated since it was first performed by HSDC in 2009, provided a welcome last-minute change to the company's program line-up. Elo's choreography for eight dancers perfectly proportioned both quirkiness and pure elegance. With lifts appearing so deceptively effortless and movements impossibly fluid, there were times I felt as though I were watching an underwater ballet. Yet, just as I became swept away by the graceful beauty of the choreography, comedic and ironic steps would break the spell; repeatedly, I went from silently mesmerized to laughing aloud. The humorous puppeteering of HSDC dancers and accentuation of the body's hard angles somehow became perfectly natural extensions of the sinuous classical ballet lines, and the backdrop of Mendelssohn and Monteverdi compositions.
Ladies and gents, put your dancing shoes on. Chicago Dance Crash is hosting auditions to join their elite dance crew for the 2011 season. Dance Crash is looking for athletic contemporary dancers to either join as ensemble members or are willing to be guest artists. If you are chosen as a company member, you will receive a hourly rehearsal salary and performance stipend. It's a perfect opportunity for all those unemployed dancers out there to do what they love and get paid for it.
The audition will include a warm-up and excerpts from Dance Crash's repertoire. They recommend that each dancers brings a headshot and resume though it is not required to audition. Walk-ins are welcome however it is encouraged that you RSVP to Mark Hackman at email@example.com by June 17 if you are interested. Auditions are being held at the Visceral Dance Center (2820 N. Elston Chicago) on June 20 and sign-in starts at 2:30 pm. Good luck!
From the minds (and hips) that brought burlesque to Pink Floyd's 'The Wall' comes Hot & Heavy Burlesque's Tribute to 'This is Spinal Tap'. Playing at the Viaduct Theater (3111 N. Western Avenue) from Friday June 4th through Sunday June 6th, the classic mockumentary is re-imagined with a little glitter, a little latex, and a lot of shimmy.
A full cast of Chicago actors will perform the classic, quotable scenes with burlesque dancers giving their interpretations mixed in. The bevy of burlesque vixens promise to go to 11 with all your Spinal Tap favorites including Sex Farm, Stonehenge, Big Bottom, Heavy Duty, Bitch School, and more.
Kellie Epperheimer in "Untouched." Photo by Todd Rosenberg
This week, June 3-6, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago will conclude its 2009-2010 season, presenting its Summer Series at Harris Theater. The company caps off its year of dance with two pieces from past repertoire and one world premiere.
The program opens with Jorma Elo's "Bitter Suite,"* first performed by HSDC in fall 2009. The company's world premiere of Aszure Barton's "Untouched" follows. Barton is noted for creating "dense environments on stage in which each performer is an individual and all are united by a shared language." To conclude the Summer Series, HSDC will reprise Toru Shimazaki's "Bardo," which the company first presented in 2006. Set to international rhythms, Shimazaki's piece has been noted for its athleticism and visual images, as dancers convey a journey between life and after world.
RNCDC's fall performance, featuring a world premiere by Sidra Bell, takes place on November 13 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. Additionally, the company has expanded its winter engagement to include three performances, which showcase a world premiere by internationally recognized tango dancers Sabrina and Ruben Veliz. Harris Theater also houses the winter series.
The Dance COLEctive, under choreographer Margi Cole, presents "Colective Notions," a performance highlighting a variety of subjects including money, relationships, forgiveness and collecting.
In The Fabric, the role of money is explored; for choreographer Maggie Koller, the dancers' movements will reflect the meaning of money and the impact it has on them. Another performance, Mon Confort, choreographed by Donnette Cannonie, examines the concept of "loss, insecurity and vulnerability" in relationships. For Forgiving My Secrets, Molly Grimm-Leasure acknowledges that we all have hidden secrets, but asks whether "these actions truly define" us and if we are able to "forgive ourselves in the end."
Taking Hold, also part of the program, Cole questions the various things people collect and how they are collected, and whether the penchant to collect things is merely a casual hobby or if it is an obsession.
"COLEctive Notions" will be performed May 21-23, Friday and Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 7pm, at Links Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield. Tickets are $14-$18; to purchase, visit Brown Paper Tickets or call 773-281-0824. For more information about The Dance COLEctive, visit their website.
The illustrious Version festival starts this Thursday with Territories, a group exhibition at the Zhou B. Art Center. Also, starting that night at midnight Version fest presents six episodes of experimental television featuring works submitted to this year's festival. Watch every night of the festival at midnight to view a 30 minute episode on Chicago Cable Access Channel 19 (CANTV).
On Friday the opening party for Version Festival kicks off at 8pm at Co-Prosperity Sphere, promising more unabashed creativity and wild rock and roll than any one human being could hope to completely absorb in one night. The meat and potatoes of the show Friday will most likely be the live music by amazing local acts including Mahjongg, Brilliant Pebbles, and Mr666 (among others), but the show will be garnished by art and entertainment by Telefantasy Studios-- a group of artists specializing in Sci-Fi/fantasy film productions who claim that their aim is to "transport people to realms never before imagined and to tell heroic stories with dazzling special effects." For the Version fest opening party they will create a temporary soundstage for performance, and they want everyone to come in costume as a Sci-Fi/fantasy character to be filmed, photographed, interviewed, and auditioned.
20/20/20--the winning lottery number? Not quite, but for 20 young artists, that number just may prove to be lucky, after all.
This spring, the Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP), a dance theatre company specializing in tap dancing and percussive arts, will celebrate its 20th anniversary to raise funds to support its Leo Harris Tap Scholarship Program. The scholarship, awarded annually in the amount of $15,000, will be increased to $20,000 this year and will help 20 deserving youth study tap dancing over the summer at CHRP's 20th annual Rhythm World festival.
Join CHRP at Katerina's, 1920 W. Irving Park Rd., on Tuesday, April 27, from 6pm-8:30pm, for a night of dynamic tap dance performances in honor of this anniversary and scholarship celebration. A minimum donation of $20 is suggested; however, if you are unable to attend and still want to offer your support, click here to secure your donation online.
The crowd was made up of hep kats and kittens donning their best throw-back rockabilly threads and eagerly awaiting the red-lipped, quick-hipped Ripettes burlesque troupe to take the stage and start their Rebels without a Blouse revue. The show was pure fun: part Benny Hill slapstick, part sexy strip tease with all the energy of a teenager's first sock hop.
The program began with Sherry Zunker's "Evolution of a Dream," an up-tempo performance set to the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams."
While "Evolution" was certainly a fast-paced number, Battle's "Ella" was an even more high energy performance. "Ella," a company premiere, was a very energetic solo piece that wowed the audience with its precise, perfect-timing movement to the "scat" style vocals of legendary singer Ella Fitzgerald.
The program also included the world premiere of "Three," also choreographed by Battle, which told the story of three men engaged in competition, accompanied by fluid, yet spastic movement.
The show also included "Tuscan Rift", "Sentir em Nós" (Even for Us) and "Forbidden Boundaries," all choreographed by RNDC Artistic Director, Frank Chaves, and "Uhuru," a very rhythmic, "Afrobeat" piece by RNDC company member (and fan favorite) Monique Haley.
Dance Crash Chicago is bringing back the hit Valentine's Day showcase "Duets for My Valentine" but offering a few changes to accommodate their ever-growing audience and add their own spin on the franchise. "Duets for My Valentine" was always considered the alternative from the average "dinner and a movie" staple that so many couples end up doing for Valentine's Day. Dance Crash gets together couples from the top ballet, contemporary, and hip hop dance troupes in the area to put on a spectacular show for couples in the audience. Dance Crash is also hosting this year's event at the Park West, which will offer a more intimate atmosphere for the audience this year. If you're a last minute Valentine's Day planner like I am, let me put it this way - there's booth seating, a full bar, a delightful emcee to guide you through the end, and a free after party when the performances are done. How could your date not enjoy it?
"Duets for My Valentine" is only being performed on Saturday, February 13th at the Park West. The show starts at 8 pm and immediately following the performance there's an after party from 9:30 to 11 pm. Advanced tickets are $25 and gives you the privilege of a private booth. For general audience seating contact Park West at (773) 929-1322 or Jam Productions.
Award-winning choreographer Margi Cole and The Dance COLEctive present "Meet Me There," a premiere performance that focuses on the "Me/I" generation. For this group, an "all about me" ideal is persistent; to address this issue, Cole, who collaborates with choreographer Jeff Hancock, explores "personal boundary and identity" and how this concept affects relationships with others and with oneself.
The Dance COLEective's "Meet Me There" is playing at The Ruth Page Center for the Arts, Thursday through Saturday, January 28-30, 8pm. Tickets are $22; $18 for students and seniors. For more information, visit The Dance COLEctive or call 773-604-8452.
The Dance Center of Columbia College welcomes the Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan and its performance of Moon Water. "Cloud Gate" is the name of what is considered to be China's the oldest dance form, dating back around 5,000 years ago.
Moon Water, Chinese for 'shui yuei', is a metaphor that describes Tai Chi practitioners' mindset ("Energy flows as water, while the spirit shines as the moon.") and a Buddhist proverb ("Flowers in a mirror and moon on the water are both illusory."). Choreographer Lin Hwai-min uses these quotes as inspiration to create a fluid, expressive piece rooted in the Taoist philosophy.
The piece, with inspired moves from the Chi Kung exercise Tai Chi Tao Yin, is performed on a stage in an all-black setting, accented by white brush strokes that resemble water ripples; near the end, the dancers are soaked in water that flows onto the stage.
The Legendary Prima Ballerina Assoluta Maria Tallchief herself was in attendance at Sunday's performance of the Nutcracker, choreographed by Kenneth von Heidecke. She sat in the front row to witness the ballet that made her a star when she originated the role of the sugarplum fairy in George Balanchine's production with the New York City Ballet in 1954. Her name was whispered by the audience, moving from the front of the house to the back in waves, and when it reached my ears I couldn't resist repeating it myself. After the performance von Heidecke introduced the living legend to the audience, and to the dancers, who stood at rapt attention in her presence.
Despite the absence of a live orchestra due to space constraints, the performance was lively and imaginative, and the three year-old and six-year old who accompanied me were absolutely mesmerized.
There is something astonishing about watching young people perform demanding roles; Sarah Peterson's portrayal of Clara was utterly captivating, and commitment emanated from every young person cast as a mouse or toy soldier. Through their beautifully choreographed steps I could feel the hours of practice and dedication from both the dancers themselves and from their parents.
Grammy award-winning sextet eighth blackbird will be performing Arnold Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire (Moonstruck Pierrot), a 1912 melodrama that sets music to poetry, featuring dancer Elyssa Dole, soprano Lucy Shelton and percussionist Matthew Duvall in the title role. Schoenberg's fascination with numerology influenced the work, which is his opus 21 and contains 21 poems. Bjork once performed the piece, and while you might be able to find a recording somewhere, this is really something to be experienced in person. Mark DeChiazza directs.
eighth blackbird will be performing Pierrot Lunaire for one night in Chicago: Tuesday, December 8th, at 7:30. Tickets are $30, with a buy one get one free promotion on the ticket sales website. For more information visit eighth blackbird.
Stepping is an art form that has long been a tradition of African-American fraternities and sororities on college campuses across the country. Brian Williams, founder and executive director of Step Afrika explains the history of stepping and its ties to Africa, as well as its impact on today's dance culture.
Step Afrika is the world's first professional dance company dedicated to stepping, how did the company get started?
We are celebrating our 15th year performing and teaching stepping all over the world. The company was founded in December 1994 as a way of connecting art form and culture. We also conduct outreach to children in the community.
The company is based in Washington, DC -- is there any significance to that?
I attended Howard University and am a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. The university can be considered as the cradle of black Greek organizations especially since many of them were founded there. It is simply a place that holds a special spot in terms of black Greek life, so Step Afrika is based there.
In the American cultural landscape, tap dancing has fought hard to be regarded the same as other dance forms. Lane Alexander, founder and director of the Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP), explains tap's global impact, and why it is finally being recognized as an equally integral part of American dance culture.
Why was CHRP founded?
I went to a tap dance festival in Portland, Oregon, but before that, I was in a tap repertory company. At this festival, there was a different kind of tap dance, taught by the masters like Charles "Honi" Cole and Eddie Brown. What they were doing was what I know now is "rhythm tap," which is more African-based. It had lots of syncopation and rhythmic complexity, as opposed to the more European tradition, (e.g., Rockettes) which was more about presentation rather than rhythmic complexity. I fell in love with these masters and this art form and said, "Why doesn't Chicago have something like this?" Now I was aware of both the Sammy Dyer School of the Theatre and Mayfair Academy on the south side, but I realized that most of the tap dancers in Chicago didn't know each other. For reasons like this, the Chicago Human Rhythm Project was founded to bring people together, using tap to create relationships.
The impact of arts in the community is undeniable; without it, we would be devoid of the beautiful contributions that dancers, artists and poets bring to the world. Iega, a native New Yorker now "deeply rooted" in Chicago understands this; here, he talks about why the arts must continue to be an integral part of our society.
You have over 20 years of experience in every aspect of the arts, how did you get started?
I started out in the theatre at an early age; I always loved the arts. I was exposed mostly to dance, though. My first [formal] exposure came from my days in New York, performing in talent shows. Broadway professionals would set up workshops in the community where I grew up--high quality workshops with top notch sets, costumes, venues, etc. These workshops were available to kids from all socio-economic backgrounds.
What brought you to Chicago?
I had a dance company in New York for about 13 years but decided to discontinue it and freelance. While freelancing, I was asked to come to Chicago to be a director at the Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theater. I did that for a year and then decided I needed to do something fresh. That's when I co-founded Deeply Rooted Productions/Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre. I am also the artistic director.
What do Adam and Eve, out-of-control goth dolls, Etta James, multiple personalities, and Metallica have in common? Innervation Dance Cooperative has brought them all together in their upcoming dance concert, Our Own Devices. IDC's roots are in theater and contemporary dance, and the many choreographers and dancers come from wildly different backgrounds. These qualities always lead to an eclectic show, and the company's mainstays of narrative dancing and a high-energy, multi-layered aesthetic bring it all together. In this concert, each of the eight choreographers presents the audience with a different struggle and shows us what happens when groups and individuals are left to their "own devices." The subjects range from a comedic and sultry reinterpretation of Eve's relationship with the Snake, to the frustration, bliss, and heartbreak involved in pursuing a man, to a portrayal of a woman whose mind created multiple personalities to deal with childhood abuse, to goth-esque dolls running amok in the dollhouse. There are eye-opening moments of intensity and belly-shaking moments of comedy, thought-provocation and good times guaranteed.
For those interested in the African dance style but are unable to attend "Dance Africa 2009" when it hits Chicago on Friday, Oct. 30, here is the next best thing: Dance classes taught by renowned, professional African dancers.
On Saturday, Oct. 31, dancers from Lesole's Dance Project and the Pamodzi Dance Troupe from Zambia will teach classes in the art of South African/Zambian dance. The classes are from 10:30am until 12:30pm (check-in begins at 10am) and will be held at the Lou Conti Dance Studio, 1147 W. Jackson Blvd. The fee for the classes is $12 and must be paid in advance. For more information, call 773.947.0600.
Put on by M.A.D.D. (Making A Difference Dancing) Rhythms, a Chicago-based dance company whose mission "is to spread the love and joy of tap worldwide," this summit will feature dance classes, workshops, and panel discussions on the art of tap dancing.
The summit will be highlighted by "Take 5," a ceremony honoring legendary tap dancers Prince Spencer, Harold Comer, Robert L. Reed, Chicago-born Jeni Le Gon, and the late Ernest 'Brownie' Brown, and their amazing contributions to the tap dance world.
This action-packed weekend (all events take place at the Harold Washington Cultural Center) begins Friday, Oct. 30 and runs through Sunday, Nov. 1. Individual tap dance classes range from $30-$50; packages are also available. Tickets to the "Take 5" ceremony are $20 (group rates are available). For more information, please call 773.604.1899.
Last night was my final West African Dance class of the current session, and we had a recital onstage at the Old Town School of Folk Music. The school is housed in a grand building on Lincoln Avenue that was once a library and retains traces of its bookish past; above the stage is a WPA mural underscored by the words "enjoy toys, the world we live in, making airplanes, boats, books tell us of King Arthur, costume and pioneer days, building skyscrapers, electricity." My fellow classmates and I - six of us in all, got on stage to the rhythm of live djembe drumming, and brought the house down. After spending eight weeks dancing in the studio classroom, it was gratifying to perform in front of an audience, and the group assembled at the Old Town School couldn't have been less judgmental - everyone in the auditorium had to get on stage at some point, making the atmosphere less American Idol and more like talent night at summer camp. We practiced our dance moves in the hallway as a group of musicians rehearsed Will The Circle Be Unbroken, it was a quintessential Old Town School moment.
The six of us stood across from each other on the stage, three on each side, and at the appropriate drumbeat - what our teacher calls "the break," we started moving towards each other in dance formation until we'd found our mark, faced the audience, and moved to the next step. Midway through the dance we formed a circle using dance steps and then moved back to our original spots, a maneuver that wowed the audience. I was standing up front at stage right, and could see the audience - mostly guitar students, with instruments in their laps or in cases sitting next to them. Our dance lasted all of three minutes, and we received a truly raucous round of applause and shouts for our efforts. It was fantastic. Three West African Dance classes performed in a row, ceaseless drumming spurring on one class after the next. After that came the Middle Eastern Belly Dancers in all their jangly, hip-centered self-confidence, the metal disks on their hip scarves bouncing in unison like a school of small, shiny fish.
Chicago Dance Crash is offering us a sneak peek behind the madness that is their latest show the Drawing Board. The Drawing Board dance performance is comprised of various submissions by fans and friends of Dance Crash, some extremely odd and some extremely creative. If you didn't catch their performance at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts last week, then this video is a great reason to see Dance Crash this weekend. Ticket and performance information can be found on Dance Crash's official website.
Chicago's Dance Crash is turning a new leaf this season with their latest show The Drawing Board. In previous performances Dance Crash has done everything from breaking to ballet, and for their upcoming performances at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts the dance troupe will be dancing your ideas! Since the beginning of January dance aficionados have been submitting possible ideas, good and bad, for Dance Crash's fall performance. Be prepared for ninjas versus pirates, light sabre armed zombies, and other weird mash-ups with Dance Crash's signature talent. The show runs at the Ruth Page Center Friday and Saturday, September 18 and 19 and Friday and Saturday, September 25 and 26. Tickets are $18 in advance and $20 at the door. Get ready for one of the weirdest dance performances you'll ever see.
One lucky Gapers Block reader can win a pair of tickets to tomorrow night's Saturday performance by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with "Dance Crash" in the subject line. One winner will be selected at random at 5pm Friday, September 18. Good luck! UPDATE: We have a winner! Congratulations to Oriana!
"Fondly Do We Hope" showcases Tony award-winning dancer Bill T. Jones' interpretation of the many complexities and contributions of Abraham Lincoln, as told through interpretative dance and song. The performance will examine Lincoln's legacy and "will expose the great distance between what is and what could have been."
Have you ever wondered what Walter from The Big Lebowski (the angry Vietnam vet played by John Goodman) would look like wearing pasties? Well, how about if Walter were played by a burlesque professional by the name of Wham Bam Pam? Titillating, perhaps?
A theme of examining identity through multidisciplinary infusions will take the Museum of Contemporary Art's stage this season as forthcoming core performances were recently announced.
The self-examining premise could also be reflected off-stage as well this year as the MCA continues efforts to advance performances, exhibitions and educational services by converging digital media.
"We hope to draw people's native interests in music, dance and theater while at the same time crossing interdisciplinary work: infusing music with dance, film with music, [etc.]," said MCA Director of Performance Programs, Peter Taub. "By and large we are living within this multidisciplinary world--so, why do we have to think of [performance] in discipline categories?"
Here's a preview of the MCA's highly anticipated multimedia performances--which will you attend?
We told you about this last year, and now here's this year's opportunity to experience some of the best dance in the country. The Chicago Dancing Festival again brings together some of the biggest names in American dance, and all for us lucky Chicagoans to enjoy for free! The indoor performances this past Thursday and Friday "sold out" (you had to reserve your free ticket) incredibly far in advance, but there's no reservation required for this Saturday's show, which will showcase such heavy hitters as Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, and American Ballet Theater. Bring your picnic baskets and blankets and start camping out early because this is sure to draw an enormous crowd. Saturday, August 22, 7:30 p.m., Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park.
In addition to the pinnacle event tomorrow night, if you're hanging out in Millennium Park during the day, you might get involved in the dancing yourself! Members of DanceWorks Chicago will be presenting Twyla Tharp's "interactive performance,"The One Hundreds. They will be teaching random park visitors a collection of 11-count movement phrases that use actions such as walking and throwing a ball. If you want to find them, here's their schedule: Saturday, August 22, 12:30pm Wrigley Square; 3pm Cloud Gate; 5pm on the lawn by Pritzker Pavilion.
Are you getting tired of people-watching at the corner sandwich shop? Have you exhausted the office-wide lunchtime debate over which bachelor(ette) is the skankiest? Throw a little culture into the mix and attend the Harris Theater's new performance series, Eat to the Beat. All they ask of you is $5, and you get to sit in the gorgeous theater and watch the crowd-pleasing DanceWorks Chicago's 45-minute performance. Performances will be September 15, November 17, and February 23, each starting at noon and running 45 minutes. My Witness, the September 15 performance, will be accompanied live by the Chicago-based folk group Sons of the Never Wrong, and followed by a Q&A session with the dancers and a mini-set by the Sons. The November and February shows promise to be equally collaborative and exciting. Certainly more exciting than taking bets on exactly how many days it will be before Ted in cube 4-135 throws his stapler against the wall again.
You can reserve a box lunch in advance and it will be waiting for you in the lobby, or you can bring your own lunch into the theater. And you don't even have to be sneaky about it!
$5 per performance or $10 for a subscription to the three-performance season. Click here or call 312-334-7777 for tickets. Sept. 15, Nov. 17, Feb. 23 at noon. Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park, 205 E. Randolph Dr.
It is hard enough to break into the acting scene without having to deal with searching for and deciphering audition requests. Now Chicago actors and actresses are getting some help from TheatreInChicago.com and its new Auditions Page. A comprehensive list provides Equity and Non-equity theater and film auditions throughout Chicago, making it easy for actors to find job opportunities.
The Auditions Page is updated frequently, and each listing shows all the information actors need such as audition material, time commitment, locations, play and character summary, and who to contact. Right now there are auditions separated into Equity, Non-equity, Dance, and Film, but another section for technicians, directors, etc. will be debuted soon. On top of auditions and job postings, there will be a Resources Page available to locate head-shot photographers, acting classes, and various other networking tools.
No sign-up or registration is necessary to use this web page, so actors can start using it today. For further questions, inquiries, or suggestions, please email email@example.com.
Chicago's Dance Crash troupe has been wowing audiences and critics alike for the past year, even going as far as to garner the reader's choice award for best dance company in the Reader's Best of Chicago 2009. This week in celebration of Pride Week, KTF is stepping up at the Lakeshore Theater after their blow-out closing performance in for an all-Prince purple revolution. Crash Dance's competitions feature every style of dance, from breaking to ballet, which can only help bring out the madness in style Prince has in his catalog. Renowned Chicago breaker Torsion headlines the dance tribute to the funky man himself.
Chicago Dance Crash continues their late night dance series at the Lakeshore Theatre (3175 N. Broadway). The one-night only show is Friday, June 26th at 10:30 pm. Tickets are $10, and VIP tickets are $15. However, KTF is giving away a pair of tickets to their Friday night show for Gapers Block readers! Email firstname.lastname@example.org with "KTF" in the subject line. One winner will be selected at random by Thursday, June 24 at 5 pm. Good luck! UPDATE: Congratulations to Megan, our winner!
The Joffrey Ballet has begun their Spring Program, and the evening is all about human interaction. This is a fantastic program for the dance lover, and a healthy challenge for the novice. Of the four pieces presented on opening night, only one truly "took me away," but, as ever, the talent and freshness of the Joffrey coursed throughout the evening.
Joffrey's Winter Season included Nijinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps (see my comments on that masterpiece), and in their tribute to the Ballets Russes, it follows that they would put on his sister Irina Nijinska's historic work, Les Noces, set to music by Stravinsky. This ballet depicts an arranged marriage between a Russian peasant man and woman, and Nijinska wanted to "convey the injustices that Russian women had long endured in their primitive surroundings." The movement quality, as in Sacre, reinforces this un-cheerful sentiment. The dancers' feet are always parallel rather than turned out, and their bodies remain rigid. It's fascinating to watch Nijinska's philosophy at work: the body and choreography convey the emotions, while the face remains blank, and no "acting" is allowed. This is an important ballet to keep intact, an important ballet for modern audiences to be able to see, and when all of the elements worked together, they worked very well.
Next was Valses Poeticos, a piece for a couple choreographed by Helgi Tomasson, with Enrique Granados's piano accompaniment played masterfully by a soloist onstage.
Chicago Dance Crash is in the middle of their run of "Movement/Gentlemen," a dance concert series with nothing but ... men! While the vast majority of small to mid-sized dance companies in the city are weighted toward the lady dancers, CDC has managed to get together a bunch of powerful danseurs. And with their personal, in-the-round staging, their athletic combination of contemporary dance, hip-hop, ballet, and acrobatics, and a handful of "progressive choreographers," this show promises to be physical and in-your-face enough for even the most studly of dudes to appreciate.
Running every Friday (7:30pm), Saturday (7:30pm), and Sunday (3:00pm) from now through May 3. DCA Storefront Theater, 78 E. Washington St. Tickets are $22 at the door, $19 in advance, $17 for students and seniors. Click here to order tickets and to see some rockin' photos of the men.
Want a circus without all the animal cruelty and screaming children? Then check out the El Circo Cheapo Cabaret this Saturday at the Aloft Loft. Marvel at the high wire antics and flexibility of the cabaret's jugglers, acrobats, and trapeze artists, including the Circo Cheapo's first ever tightwire act and a trapeze act by a 5-year-old "future Russian circus star."
And if you find yourself wishing you could fly through the air with the greatest of ease, the Aloft Loft offers beginner trapeze and aerial conditioning classes for just $35 a session (cheaper if you commit to a regular schedule).
There are two performances this Saturday, at 7 and 10pm. Both are $10 and tickets are available online. More information in Slowdown.
The Joffrey Ballet's Winter Season opened last night, and the audience managed to get through the whole show without attacking each other in the aisles. ... More on that in a moment.
The program begins with "Kettentanz" (choreographed by Gerald Arpino, music by Strauss and Mayer), a ballet inspired by the social dances of Vienna. While the light, tripping steps might look like your stereotypical, charming ballet, it's impossible to forget that these dancers are athletes. If you watch carefully, you'll notice that the piece is a 30-minute-long race with hardly a break for these smiling, poised dancers who throw in a hearty feeling of camaraderie while making the intensely hard work look effortless.
Next up is "Mobile" (choreographed by Tomm Ruud, music by Khachaturian), which absolutely succeeds at recreating Calder mobiles with nothing more than a man, two women, and three white unitards. This isn't quite Cirque du Soleil, but even when the man isn't supporting the two women who are holding themselves at right angles to his body (wow!), the lighting, costumes, and shapes are full of the tension and energy that occurs when three individuals act as a unit.
The third piece is "Hand of Fate," the pas de deux from the Balanchine ballet Cotillon (music by Chabrier). I can't believe I'm saying this about the great Balanchine, but the dance, although executed beautifully, was more or less forgettable. Especially considering what came next.
Of course, the reason most of the audience was there was for Le Sacre du Printemps ("The Rite of Spring"), Vaslav Nijinksy's 1913 ballet that revolutionized the dance world.
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, one of the city's most renowned dance companies, is trying something new this year. They're offering a Family Workshop Series, an opportunity for children (ages 3 to 8) and their parents to be introduced to dance through doing. According to their site, workshop attendees will "participate in dance movement in various cultural settings around the city," including the Art Institute of Chicago (1/31), the Chicago Botanic Garden (2/14), Hubbard Street Dance Center (3/21), and The Center on Halsted (3/28). The workshops are only $5 per person, and they begin this coming Saturday, January 31, 1:00-3:30. For tickets and info, call HSDC (312-850-9744).
The general public will have the rare opportunity to witness all the hope, joy, anxiety, and realized (or crushed) dreams of dancers this weekend when DanceWorks Chicago opens the doors to their audition. Free of charge, anyone can come sit in the audience and watch the audition process, which consists of a ballet class (and eliminations) followed by repertoire (and oh, more eliminations). There will even be people milling about, ready to answer your questions. It's all happening Sat., Jan. 10, 1:00 to 4:00 (doors open at 12:30 and you can come and go as you please), at The Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 S. Michigan Avenue. FREE. Click here for more information.
Jennifer Gage has been dancing ballet, jazz, hip-hop, and everything in between for decades and hit the Chicago dance community in 1991. She has performed with numerous Chicago companies, including the great Joel Hall Dancers, and started her own dance company, GI Alliance. She loves listening and choreographing to Metallica, got significant inspiration from a giant cast on her foot, and can touch the back of her head with her knee. GB managed to catch up with her at midnight just after she had finished performing a ballroom number in a contemporary dance company's concert.
When and how did you start dancing?
I started dancing because I was a complete clutz when I was a child and had zero coordination. My mom decided to take control and enroll me in dance classes to give me a bit of grace. I teased her when she came to see me do some professional shows when I was in my 20s. That's when it dawned on her that I'm really a professional dancer and that's what I do. She said, "I didn't know what that meant until I saw it. My daughter always had 15 little jobs and was dancing on the side. Now I can tell people my daughter is a professional dancer!"
You have absolutely no excuse for not seeing some fabulous local dance companies perform this month. For the 14th year, the overwhelmingly enormous Dance Chicago festival provides Chicagoans the opportunity to see 130 companies perform 300 works over a four-week span. And this weekend is your first chance.
You can go for the full monty and get a season package, or you can pick and choose from the conveniently categorized programs. For instance, if you want to see the cutting edge of Chicago's dance scene, try the New Moves concert or the Fringe Carnival. If you're looking for a great date night, try the evening of partner acts, Dance Romance. Can't get enough urban dancing? It's all in one place in the Chicago Streets program. There are programs for kids, programs full of jazz, and even a Dance Slam. Seriously, if you can't find something that tickles your fancy, don't blame the festival!
Dance Chicago runs from 11/7 to 11/30. All shows are at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport. Tickets range from $99 for a full season package to $15-$25 per performance, with lots of other package options in between. Go to the website for tickets, or call 773-935-6860.
Trying to find a new way to get your derriere in gear this fall/winter? Or maybe you've always wondered how those ladies in the '20s got their legs to flip around like that. Shake things up with some shakin', shimmyin' dance classes at The Galaxie. Choose from tap, swing, "dance fitness," honky tonk two-step, "Girl Power" Charleston, and ... you'll never guess ... okay, I'll tell you ... GO-GO dancing!! I'm not kidding.
Many of these classes (including go-go) start next week, so check out the website and get yourself signed up. The Galaxie is at 2603 W. Barry. 773-267-6010
Earlier this week, Rachel told you about some of the amazing dance events taking place this month. Hopefully this photo will inspire you to partake. For more stunning dance photography, check out contributor lucy.na's flickr stream.
If there's such a thing as a "Dance Season" in Chicago, we're in the thick of it. So pull out your calendars and start planning the rest of your October around some of these incredible dance viewing opportunities. And this isn't even to mention (yet) the dozens of shows coming up in November!
Chicago's premiere ballet company, the Joffrey Ballet begins its Fall Repertory tonight. (10/15-10/26)
And speaking of the Athenaeum, please excuse the brief foray into November, but tickets are now available for the 14th annual massive dance festival Dance Chicago (11/7-11/30). I'm sure I'll have more to say on this topic, but check out their website. Your old favorites are here, as well as new programs galore!
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (HSDC) kicked off its 2008-2009 season with its Fall Series this past weekend. HSDC is providing Chicago four opportunities to see them at their home at the Harris Theater, so even if you missed the Fall Series, you have plenty more chances, and you really must see how these dancers move their bodies.
I imagine working with HSDC dancers must be a choreographer's dream. Refreshingly, there is no unifying body type in this company, no unifying personality; clearly, these dancers are permitted to be themselves. But there is an aesthetic of strength -- the kind of strength that allows for the appearance of physical abandon while maintaining complete control -- that runs through every dancer and every bit of choreography I've seen from Hubbard.
Chicago is home to so many modern dance companies that it can sometimes get overwhelming. Thank goodness for Chicago Moving Company's OTHER Dance Festival. CMC has both the artist and the audience in mind in providing a venue for local modern dancers, and a one-stop-shop for dance lovers to see 16 companies on one stage over three weekends. Forgive the late notice, but tonight and tomorrow are your last chance this year, so be sure to get on out there and take a look at some local artists. Who knows, maybe you'll find your favorite little Chicago company!
Thursday (10/2) and Friday (10/3), 7:30 p.m., $15 ($12 students/seniors), Hamlin Park Fieldhouse Theater, 3035 N. Hoyne. Click here for tickets or call BrownPaperTickets at 800.838.3006.
We could get into a long conversation on the subject of why I'm not usually drawn to dance that promises to "de-mystify" and "de-titillate" the "objectification of women." But when Breakbone DanceCo promises to mock themselves, mock a lot of the heavy-handed social commentary out there, and encourage the audience to laugh during this de-titillation, my interest is piqued. The "De-evolution of MUDWOMAN (an evening of dance exile, fashion, and humor)" begins with a "superficial poptart diva"--representing today's female role models--who de-evolves into the primordial female, complete with head-to-toe mud. The show is filled with entertainment, including a couture fashion show and videography, and is punctuated by commentary from three "expositors" who critique the goings-on throughout the evening.
Breakbone uses a unique, athletic style, and the MUDWOMAN choreography explores a movement-as-language standpoint with diverse sources, from sign language to "primal body posturing" to more standard dance techniques. The concert features work by award-winning choreographers Colleen Halloran and Atalee Judy, and former Hubbard Street Chicago dancer Cheryl Mann.
So if you want to participate in a high-energy and humorous journey toward the appreciation of the female form in its "most beautiful, raw, and primal state," go check out Breakbone at the Viaduct Theater, 3111 N. Western Ave., Chicago. It's running for two more weeks: August 28, 29, 30, and September 4, 5, 6, all shows at 9:00. $18 ($15 students and seniors). Click here for tickets or visit Breakbone's website for more information.
There are so many opportunities to see dance in Chicago, but the Chicago Dancing Festival really stands out. As if by magic, the Chicago Dancing Company pulls together some of the country's most renowned dance companies and presents them to the Chicago public for free. No strings attached. The founders of CDC believe that "good dance cultivates more dance," and that a free performance of some of the best dancing out there will create a greater audience for the art form. Regardless of the philosophy, get out there and take advantage of the opportunity!
The first night of this three-night festival is already sold out (er, "reserved out"), although there's a way to get stand-by vouchers. It just might be worth it, since some of the greatest dance companies in U.S. history (including the Limon Dance Company and the Martha Graham Dance Company, as well as Chicago's own Joffrey Ballet) are performing on the same stage. Monday, August 18, 7:30 p.m., Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph Dr. (See link above for stand-by vouchers.)
If you're interested in learning about the origins of modern dance from some people who would really know what the heck they're talking about (imagine learning physics from Einstein's #1 student), reserve your spot for Artists Up Close, where dancers and the respective artistic directors of the Limon and the Martha Graham Dance companies will present a multimedia lecture and demonstration exploring the birth of modern dance. Tuesday, August 19, 6 p.m., Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave. Call 312-397-4010 for reservations.
On the third and final night, "A Celebration of American Dance" in Millennium Park is an evening of performances by some fantastic companies, including the American Ballet Theater (performing the Black Swan pas de deux from Swan Lake--you can't get any better than that), Chicago's Hubbard Street Dance, and Muntu Dance Theater. It's not often you get the opportunity to see all of this dancing in one night, for free, while taking advantage of the best part of Chicago summers: sitting outside with your friends and a bottle of (ahem) grape juice with the skyline rising above you. Wednesday, August 20, 7:30 p.m., Pritzker Pavilion, Michigan Ave. and Randolph St. No reservations necessary, but get there early for a good spot!
Some people watch a dance performance and wonder what it would be like to be on stage. And some people take it a step farther. Open House Dance Collective, a division of HouseHold Arts Collective, invites community members--regardless of training or skill level--to come rehearse with professional choreographers. They perform professionally every summer, and this weekend's "OHD 5" is this year's culmination.
The Collective has been successful for five years running--increasing the number of dancers from 30 in '04 to 70 in '07. Their shows keep on sellin' out, which is fantastic since a portion of the proceeds always go to charity. This aligns with the dual mission of HouseHold Arts: to bring Chicago artists together, and to use that art as a vehicle to educate audiences and further the causes of local charities. "OHD 5" will benefit Inspiration Cafe, which provides restaurant-style meals, life skills training, case management, and other services at their Uptown location to help men and women overcome the causes of their homelessness.
Want to come see your neighbors-cum-professional dancers? You'll also get to see an appearance by Jump Rhythm Jazz Project. Shows continue tonight and tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. at the Vittum Theater, 1012 N. Noble St., Chicago. Tickets are $15, and reservations are highly recommended. Click here or call 773-342-4141.
A summer twilight rooftop party with vintners pouring their own wines while members of one of Chicago's favorite dance companies teaches you Bossa Nova moves from one of their popular works. No, this isn't just some fantasy of your friendly GB dance writer. This is the latest event from Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. At Twilight on the Rooftop, HSDC's dancers will be teaching a lesson where "guests will discover how to 'Sway' Dean Martin-style to the rhythms of the Bossa Nova as they learn part of one of HSDC's most popular performance pieces." Meanwhile, attendees can snack on hors d'oeuvres and taste fine wines from nine Napa Valley wineries (be sure to read below whatcha get if you pay the big bucks). And if that's not enough, they will be raffling prizes, including a "Napa Valley winery experience." Yum!
If this sounds fabulous to you, be sure to RSVP by July 15. The event is Tuesday, July 22, 7-10 p.m. on the Rooftop of the East Bank Club, 500 N. Kingsbury St. Tickets are $75 per person, or get a VIP ticket for $125, which includes reserved seating with table-side wine service by the vintners themselves. Proceeds benefit HSDC. RSVP by phone at 312-850-9744, x164 or online.
If you're curious about an art form that is more than the sum of its parts (its parts being dance and martial arts), then Gingarte Capoeira Chicago has your weekend all planned out for you. In capoeira, what starts off looking like a partnered dance turns into an improvised fight--both aggressive and graceful--with kicks, throws, and acrobatics. The music is also instrumental (ha) in this art form that originated (arguably) in the sixteenth century with African slaves in Brazil who wanted to disguise their self-defense training. Today's capoeira dancers are disciplined and spiritual and, as with martial artists, consider it to be a way of life.
Gingarte has been around since 1991, teaching and promoting capoeira, as well as Brazilian music and language. They have an Academy in Pilsen where you can take advantage of their classes year-round, but July 10 through 13 is their 14th Annual Batizado e Troca de Cordões, where you can participate in workshops on capoeira, music, maculelê, and samba. Click the link for the weekend event schedule, registration information (register by July 9), and fees for adults and youth.
Of course, the weekend wouldn't be complete without an opportunity to see the artists at work. Gingarte Capoeira's "Resistência" performance is at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 12, at the University of Illinois Chicago, Performing Arts Theater, 1044 W. Harrison St. Tickets are $10 in advance (online ticket sales end Friday), $15 at the door, $5 ages 16 and under.
Local dance collective Live Animals hosts a “performance-infused social event” on Saturday, June 28, at Around the Coyote Gallery. The event, aptly called Dance/Party, will feature repertory work; sneak peeks of upcoming pieces choreographed by Live Animals members Kate Corby, Tess Dworman, and Caitin Marz; raffles; gummi bears; and—yep, you guessed it—one helluva a dance party. The night’s festivities will also include the Movebooth, a live take on the photo booth. (For participation in the Movebooth, bring an iPod.)
On the Live Animals blog, the three choreographers explain their motivation for throwing such a party: “One of our primary goals [as an organization] is to seduce you away from your couches and televisions…. We are fiercely committed to creating and maintaining breathing, moving, and feeling live human animals through events like this.”
For a very live, very moving experience, head to the ATC art space, located at 1935½ W. North Ave, at 8 pm on Saturday. General admission is $15 and includes refreshments. Student admission is $12 with a valid ID.
Every once in a while, Chicago Dance Crash holds a "Battle for the Belt" in which dancers battle it out to earn the title of Keeper of the Floor (KTF), complete with an enormous gold-plated ("forty pounds of gold") Championship Belt. Of course, the whole thing is more or less tongue-in-cheek, but this is a great chance to see some fantastic dancers improvising in styles as diverse as ballet, tap, and breaking. This is a high-energy competition where the audience picks the favorite. Check out CDC's performance footage to get a taste.
Ladies, get out those dancing shoes; guys, look for a sexy shirt. Summer Dance has arrived. Festivities kick off this Thursday – Sunday, in the Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park (601 S. Michigan). Genres included: Honky-Tonk, Two-Step, Jitterbug and Rhumba. For the next eleven weeks, dance events occur every Thursday – Saturday, 6pm-9:30pm; Sundays 4pm-7pm. World music ensembles on Thursdays; Latin, swing, and steppin’ on Friday and Saturdays; ballroom and big band on Sundays. And yes, all events are free, thankfully. There are still some things that don’t change in a sluggish economy. For more information, call the Summer Dance Hotline, at 312-742-4007.
If you're a dance lover who doesn't have the cash for classes you're in luck. The Lou Conte Dance Studio, the school of Hubbard Street Dance is hosting a series of free classes in June.
The low down:
Friday night/ Saturday morning, 6/20 & 21
Cirque du Soleil performer and teaching artist Dionna PridGeon leads a midnight dance jam that incorporates jazz and hip hop. Open to all proficiency levels; pre-registration by phone at 312-850-9766 is required (participants ages 15 to 17 require parent approval).
Lou Conte members lead beginner classes in ballet, modern, jazz, hip-hop, Pilates, African and tap. No pre-registration is necessary.
Attendees can purchase two summer session (runs through August 23) classes for the price of one. All classes held at Lou Conte Studio, 1147 W. Jackson Blvd.
If you've ever wondered about artists' creative process, if you enjoy watching great dancing and cutting-edge choreography--or if you're the type of person who relishes the opportunity to say, "Yeah, I knew about that way before it became so popular, ugh!"--then you'd best be heading over to the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago this weekend. Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, one of our city's most popular dance companies, will be putting on its annual "Inside/Out" Choreographic Workshop Performance, an evening of works-in-progress that could eventually become part of the company's repertoire.
Every year, HSDC offers its dancers the opportunity to set choreography on their compatriots, and these dancers-turned-choreographers have created several of of today's fan favorites. (And I must say from personal experience, it does feel snarkily good to sit in the theater a couple months later to see a World Premiere that you saw in its infancy at "Inside/Out.") Of course, regardless of the works-in-progress nature of the evening, this is still Hubbard Street, so you know you're going to see a high-quality, accessible performance. They sold out last year, so be sure to reserve your seat!
June 6 @ 8:30, June 7 @ 6:00 and 8:30, Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, 1306 S. Michigan Ave. $20 general admission ($35 reserved section). To guarantee your seats, call 312-850-9744 (ext. 166), or visit the website for an order form.
I bet you didn't know that you missed National Tap Day. No kidding. Check out the U.S. Joint Resolution. The holiday was officially on May 25, the agreed-upon birthday of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. (If you've never seen the master at work, you've been missing out.) The supporters of the bill that brought National Tap Day into being have likened tap dancing to jazz music as far as its contribution to the national cultural and artistic heritage.
There was already one big celebration here in Chicago last weekend, put on by the Chicago Human Rhythm Project. But never fear! There's still plenty of hoofin' going on this Saturday at the Old Town School's National Tap Day Festival. Tappers from Chicago and beyond will be on stage, including grand marshals Reggio “The Hoofer” McLaughlin and nonagenarian tap man Ernest “Brownie” Brown.
May 31, 8 p.m., Gary and Laura Maurer Concert Hall, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave. Tickets are $20 ($18 for Old Town School members; $16 for students and seniors) and can be purchased via the box office (773.728.6000) or on the Web.
If you like the idea of ballet, but get a little squeamish by Act II of those classical "masterpieces," then Elements Contemporary Ballet might be just what you're looking for. Mike Gosney, the founder and artistic director of this Chicago company, has been creating dance that is truly ballet (the ladies wear pointe shoes, the movements come from a ballet vocabulary), yet truly contemporary (hey, ballerinas aren't supposed to stick out their hips like that!) since the company's inception three years ago.
This weekend, ECB presents its Spring Concert, featuring premieres of "Baroque Compositions" (set to Bach) and "Angel," as well as performances of some of the company's repertoire. A reception (free and open to the public) will follow the Saturday show, and will include an opportunity to meet the dancers, staff, and board of ECB, a wine and cheese tasting, and a raffle. Performances are May 23 and 24, 7:00 p.m. at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn. $17.50 general admission ($15 students and seniors). Click here for tickets, or call the box office at 312-337-6543.
This weekend and next, you'll get the chance to see some acrobatic dancers create a story in the air using ... giant lampshades. And picture frames and clotheslines and boots, oh my! Aloft Aerial Dance presents The Dinner of our Discontent, in which they tell the story--which "veers from heartbreaking to hilarious"--of five estranged sisters returning home after the sudden deaths of their parents. The company has spent some time in China since their last full-length show, and they picked up some tricks from Chinese acrobats who make use of every-day objects to create their art.
The show is May 16-18 and 23-25, 8:00 p.m. at the Aloft Loft, 941 N California Ave. (down the alley, in the back). Go to Brown Paper Tickets for...well...tickets at $20-$30.
As a side note--if you've ever wanted to join the circus but don't want to leave Chicago, you can learn how to be a trapezist right here! Check out the Aloft Loft for all the classes Aloft has to offer.
On the first Thursday of the next three months, dance critic Lucia Mauro will be hosting the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs series "About Dance," now in its fourth year. Each event in the series will feature a performance by a local choreographer or dance company, accompanied by a discussion with Mauro about that performer's artistic process. This month's contribution is sure to be entertaining. Matthew Hollis will perform "Let's Go Love!" in which he utilizes modern dance and his faux-self-help technique, the Power of Cheer (as in cheerleading) to pick apart and celebrate everything that is Love.
All of this entertainment is FREE at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 8, at the Chicago Cultural Center's Dance Studio, 78 E. Washington St. For more information, call 312-744-6630.
In keeping with the company's goals of inspiring "new perceptions of movement," Inaside Chicago Dance has created an evening of dancing inspired by the drip period of Jackson Pollock's artwork. In the Painting will be a "multimedia dance experience," beginning with a short film by Pedro Brenner (Inaside's photographer and award-winning film director) about Pollock's life and art, and continuing with choreographed works that include a multimedia element.
May 2 @ 8:00, May 3 @ 2:00 & 8:00. Ruth Page Center for the Performing Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn. $20 general ($15 student/dancer/senior). Purchase tickets at the Ruth Page box office (312.337.6543).
The members of the think/dance collective bring their spirited, improvisational movement to the Lincoln Square Theatre this Thursday, April 24. Geared especially toward audiences with limited exposure to dance, think/dance performances incorporate text, video, and imaginative props (i.e., “shoes” made of white bread). Also performing are Asthmatic Kitty recording artist Half-handed Cloud and Olympia, Washington-based ensemble LAKE.
Wear your thinking cap to the Lincoln Square Theatre, 4754 N. Leavitt, this Thursday. The show starts at 8pm, and tickets are $7.
If your daydreams resemble Fame, then Open House Dance Collective might help you turn your fantasies into reality. On Sunday, May 4, the nonprofit holds its "Reverse Auditions," which link professional choreographers with aspiring dancers to "train" for a three-month period -- regardless of skill level -- in anticipation of performing. Seven different choreographers show their style of movement, with participants choosing their choreographer (instead of the other way around) by movement preference and rehearsal schedules. Just by virtue of showing up, you're in!
Participants get to dance in a professional-quality concert (to be held July 31-Aug. 2 at the Vittum Theater), with a portion of ticket sales going to two local charities.
3-5 p.m. Menomonee Club,1535 N. Dayton Street. For more info, contact email@example.com.
If you haven’t cleared your calendar for the MCA’s upcoming Hip Hop Live + Reel, you might want to get on that. Born of New York City’s Hip Hop Theater Festival, Live + Reel is a four-day bonanza of hip hop culture. Artists from both coasts – including New York’s Reggie Watts and Bay Area lyricists The Suicide Kings – will be joining forces with local performers like Deja Taylor, whose work from Louder Than a Bomb has been recorded for Chicago Public Radio, and Teatro Luna, Chicago’s all-Latina theater company.
“This new format – two days of film and two days of live performances – creates a mini-festival atmosphere,” says MCA House Manager Surinder Martignetti. “The strength of combining local artists with national performers offers people such a great opportunity to see what’s happening out there and to really get involved.”
With all four days boasting a packed line up of spoken word performances, outstandingly original films and, of course, music (and only $5 for tickets to the films! Five! For the whole night!), the MCA is encouraging everyone to try to make the whole series. If you can only make one, though, I recommend aiming for Saturday, when The Suicide Kings’ In Spite of Everything, a startlingly timely play revolving around a school shooting, will be performed. Louder Than a Bomb 2008 winner Kuumba Lynx will also perform, and beatboxer Yuri Lane will close the night with an excerpt from his show From Tel Aviv to Ramallah: A Beatbox Journey.
Film night tickets are $5 for all screeings; performance nights are $16 member/$20 non-member. Student pricing is available. To see the full list of performances or to buy tickets on line, visit the MCA’s website, or call the box office at 312.397.4010 for more information.
For the next two weekends, the Chicago company (of which yours truly just happens to be a part) Innervation Dance Cooperative will present its contemporary dance interpretation of the play Everyman, set to music by Led Zeppelin. For those of you who might be familiar with your 15th-century morality plays, this rendition is stripped of religion and focuses on the "you can't take it with you" aspect of what's important in life. Everyman receives a visit from Death and begs for more time to find a companion to join her (it's an all-female cast) on that final journey. After her friends, family, Wealth, Beauty, Strength, and other less loyal compatriots turn their backs on her, she finds that her long-neglected Good Deeds and Conscience are the only support she can bring along. Of course, the ever-present Robert Plant and Jimmy Page refuse to allow the show to get preachy, and push the dancers to moments of passion and hilarity.
Performances are April 17, 19, 24, 25 at 7:30, and April 20, 27 at 2:30. Hamlin Park Fieldhouse Theater, 3035 N. Hoyne. $15 ($10 students/seniors). Purchase tickets at the door or contact Innervation at firstname.lastname@example.org or 773-230-2168.
This weekend at the MCA, you can see what one of America's great modern dance companies has to say about our "mediatized" world, touching on morality, humanity, and violence, the judicial process, and prison. The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company has been a major force in American modern dance for nearly 25 years. In this visit to Chicago, they will be presenting Chapel/Chapter, a performance that retells two "high-visibility" news stories and one company member's "reminiscence/confession." The music is performed live, the set plays a role, and video and spoken words are involved, all contributing to the choreographer's desire to create a "self-enclosed world." The show promises to be both intellectually and visually fascinating.
Shows are at the MCA, 220 E. Chicago Ave., on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7:30. Tickets are $35-$40 ($28-$32 for MCA members). For tickets and more information, including a video preview, visit the MCA's website.
If you're the kind of person who walks by municipal garbage cans piled high with empty Starbucks cups and winces at all the waste, then Monument, a new dance theater work by local multidisciplinary arts collective The Seldoms, is for you. The 50-minute work, which combines dance, music and video, addresses our culture's apparent addiction to consumption and waste, in which the landfill has become an "accidental social sculpture." Recently Monument choreographer Carrie Hanson took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to answer some questions about the performance, which runs April 10-12 at 8pm at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn. (For more info, call 312-328-0303.)
How did the idea for Monument develop?
The Monument project has been developing for over a year. The idea began broadly: The initial choreographic, sonic and imagistic impulses emerged from a consideration of the acts of preservation, creation and destruction. We started from several points of inquiry: in balancing concerns for short-term prosperity/survival with long-term prosperity/survival, what do we preserve? What are the economic forces and cultural ethos that influence our behavior and decisions as consumers? What tensions exist between our dual identities as consumer and citizen, and between private goods and the public good? And finally, what are the personal, social, and environmental effects of our collective and individual acts of production, consumption, and disposal?
As we began our research before going into the dance studio, we easily found a lot of information relating to consumption and waste. The facts, offering mind-blowing figures about the quantity of plastic bottles and tons of refuse, were impressive and daunting, but weren’t readily imaginable. It wasn’t until Doug Stapleton, The Seldoms’ artistic associate, found an article about the immense Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island that our understanding moved from statistics to a physical reality. The article stated that the landfill is visible from space, which helped us to grasp the scale, impact and monumentality of our collective practices of consumption and waste. The work’s title – Monument – makes reference to the landfill as accidental monument.
Renata Sheppard, an artist part of Links Hall's residency program, created a performance using non-dancers, exploring how people new to the art of dance would respond and move. These folks included a business exec, medical students and improv actors -- all of whom were total novices when the project began. After months of workshopping, they'll all make their debut in April:
Friday & Saturday, April 4 & 5, 8pm; Sunday, April 6, 7pm; $15
Links Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield, #207. Call (773) 281-0824 for more info.
Here are some options for this weekend (starting tonight!).
Chicago Moving Company presents Dance Shelter, CMC's annual artist-in-residence concert. March 27, 28 and April 3, 4 @ 7:30. $15 ($12 students), Hamlin Park Fieldhouse Theater, 3035 N Hoyne Ave. Click here for more info and to purchase tickets.
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Spring Series opens tonight. If you were to see only one Chicago company this year, I'd say these are the folks to see. Consistently fantastic performances, consistently accessible to a wide audience. Various dates, tonight through April 5. Their site has all the info you could need.
The final event in Links Hall's Choreographing Coalitions (see earlier GB entries about the series here and here) is Denise Uyehara's Big Head, an interdisciplinary performance piece that "revisits the treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II and considers current-day treatment of those perceived as 'the enemy now.'" March 28, 29 @ 8:00, March 30 @ 7:00. $15 ($12 students). 3435 N. Sheffield, #207
For the next two weekends, Corpo Dance Company (born and bred in Chicago) will be performing under a new structural concept--well, at least it's new for dance. Contemporary music has been following the structure for decades: listen to the single, then flip the record to catch the remixed/reworked/rewoven version on the b-side. If you head to the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, you'll see original choreography by Christopher M. McCray (set to Bjork, Amon Tobin, Radiohead) in Act I. After the intermission, flip to the b-side to see "remixed" versions by several other area choreographers. And if that's not reminiscent enough of your favorite record, a local radio DJ will be announcing each piece as if you were listening to a live radio broadcast.
Corpo employs a "blend of urban, technical, and athletic movement styles" to create their dances. Tickets to b-sides are $20 in advance from the company's website, or $25 at the door. Shows are at 8 p.m. on March 21, 22, 28, and 29, and there's a 2:00 matinee on the 22nd. The Ruth Page Center is at 1016 N. Dearborn.
Choreographing Coalitions: Dancing the Other in the Self, Links Hall's and the Dance Center of Columbia College's month-long festival, continues this week. (See last week's GB entry, Voguing Demystified.) The festival brings together local and national "body-based artists" who base their work on themes of social justice. They assume that "the dancing body is a uniquely qualified instrument with which to explore the complexities of the social world."
In that vein, this weekend's performance by Victoria Marks is titled Not About Iraq. Rather, Marks says it's about "dancing, heroics, valor, and truth," and where the body fits into all of that. What does it mean to be a citizen and an artist? How can dancing speak about the human experience? There will be a post-show discussion after each performance where I'm sure these and many other socially relevant questions will be discussed.
The last two shows are tonight (3/15 at 8:00) and tomorrow (3/16 at 7:00) at Links Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield, #207. Tickets are $15 ($12 students and seniors). To reserve tickets, call Links Hall at 773.281.0824.
From an email sent by the company:
"Gus Giordano, founder/director emeritus of the critically acclaimed GiordanoJazz Dance Chicago, author, legendary choreographer and one of the fathers of American jazz dance passed away quietly in Chicago on Sunday, March 9 from pneumonia. He was 84."
The festival aims to "blend all forms of art, dance, text, music, and visual art into performances that capture and stimulate the mind." And media isn't the only diverse aspect of the festival. Take a peek at the subject matter. McIlvain's "dance for the camera," Three Men in Two Parts, follows three young men through a night in a bar. Shabam!'s West Side Story Redux views today's racism and division through the lens of the eponymous musical. Munch's Rubber Coated Chlorine takes a stab at "political speak" while the audience hears recordings of Adlai Stevenson at the United Nations in 1962. Performances will range from political and serious to light and warm-hearted, while subjects range from a Baptist church, to mid-life discovery, to death. There are even promises of belly dancing and traditional Butoh dancing!
Tickets are $15 ($10 students). Shows are March 13 and 14 at 7:30 at the Hamlin Park Fieldhouse Theater, 3035 N. Hoyne. 773-486-8261
Tonight marks the start of the latest month-long Links Hall dance festival, Chroegraphing Coalitions: Dancing the Other in the Self, curated by Artistic Associate Peter Carpenter. Three dancers--Darrell Jones, Gesel Mason & David Rousseve--take the stage to examine issues of race, color and sexuality through interpretive performance. Jones, of the 2007 show, Third Swan From The End, lifts the veil off this misunderstood dance form. Voguing started in the 70s and 80s among gays in Harlem who used the dance form of "striking poses," (stolen by Madonna to use in her popular 90s song, Vogue) to settle disputes in a non-violent manner. Yes, voguing is about more than just looking good, or imitating Vogue models, as Jones shows in his performance, in which "gay" and "black" represent a struggle for social justice.
Show opens tonight and Saturday at 8pm, and on Sunday at 7pm. $15, $12 for seniors, students and low-income. Reservations are recommended: 773.281.0824.
Forget the shimmying “jazz hands” you think of when you hear the words “jazz dance.” Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, whose mission is partly to create “an awareness of jazz dance as a true artistic expression of American life” know how it’s really done. They should: they’ve been around (and at home in Chicagoland) since 1962, and they’re still exploring new directions for this uniquely American movement. If the thought of over-smiling and splayed-fingered bubblegum dancing makes you queasy, and if the image of overly-serious and gazing-into-the-distance postmodern movement puts you to sleep, Giordano is directly up your alley. They’re always good for dance newbies and experts alike.
The music the company dances to is a testament to the claim that GJDC isn’t exactly what the layman might expect from a jazz dance company. They’re performing some of their repertory this weekend, which is set to music as widely varying as Japanese Kodo drums to Judy Garland. They will also be showing their new piece, "Moanin’ Low," which is set to Lena Horne, Miles Davis, and others. Jazz, yes, but not exactly “jazz hands” music.
Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8:00 at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park. Find more details in our Slowdown section or on GJDC’s website. Also note that they’re hosting a Young Professionals event before the show on Friday.
Chicago Dance Crash has been pushing the boundaries of the Chicago dance world since 2002. In one of their many innovative schemes, “The KTF Championship — Battle of the Belt,” they created an improv dance showdown in which CDC dancers competed for the title of KTF (“Keeper of the Floor”), complete with a forty-pound, gold-plated championship belt. The show was competitive dance meets improv comedy, right down to the audience participation. Talk about making quality dance that’s accessible to an enormous audience beyond the local dance snobbery!
They’re at it again on March 7, 8, 14, and 15 at the Viaduct Theater. One look at the rock-concert-poster-esque intro page for CDC’s website will give you a flavor of what’s on tap at “The Standing Room,” a “rock concert for dance.” And they mean rock concert, right down to the live music, the hand stamp, the coat check, and the standing-room-only. Honestly, I’m still not sure exactly what to expect, but that only attests to the originality of this idea. Will there be choreography in CDC’s ballet-capoeira-acrobatics-breakin’-hip-hop style? Will there be improv? Will the dancers be among the crowd? Can’t wait to find out!