Chicago Dancing Festival 2012: Chicago Now

What was opening night at the 2012 Chicago Dancing Festival? It was…

… a packed house of excited, anxious fans that ranged from veteran patrons to children who were seeing their first professional dance.

… Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel showing his passion for the arts in a wonderful pre-show tribute to Maggie Daley, co-founder of After School Matters. In fact, one of the Chicago Dancing Festival Partner Bloggers, Rogue Ballerina, quoted our board chair David Herro stating that Mayor Emanuel is “probably the only Mayor in the United States that can do a proper plié”. Read the rest of her post here.

… an exciting and spirited performance by that same group which brought loud and enthusiastic cheers from the huge crowd. One of our other Partner Bloggers, D Underbelly, was able to speak with the After School Matters renowned choreographer, Nicholas Leichter, and some participating dancers before the performance. Read the write-up here!

… Hubbard Street, Joffrey Ballet and Giordano Dance representing Chicago with grace, power, and humor.

… an informal group of Chicagoans from all over the city coming together in a beautiful and moving dance called Bolero Chicago, which one of our other Partner Bloggers, Chicago Now, stated was the highlight of her evening. Read her thoughts here.

… an amazing opening night Prima Parti featuring food, music and dance on the Harris rooftop with dancers, staff and supporters who celebrated a night well spent.

… a special appearance by Benny the Bull to showcase true Chicago culture beyond just dance. Partner Blogger Contrapuntist shared his thoughts on this subject here.

Many of our festival bloggers have pointed out that this night was about Chicago. It was. While the festival is about presenting the highest quality dance to the city, this year, our attempt to bring the city to the dance is what makes this year very special year. Not only for the staff and patrons, but for the community who spun, glided or jumped onto the Harris stage, or any stage, for the first time. Partner Blogger, Scott Silberstein, stated that “Dance is of the people, by the people, for the people.“ Read the rest of his blog here.

Want to see more? Our Partner Photo Blogger, Chicago Photo Blog, created a Flickr album of some shots opening night, including some of the bloggers themselves! See more on our Pinterest page. Want to share your own photos and thoughts? Tweet using the #CDF12 hashtag (or mention our Twitter handle, @chida_fe!) and share via our Facebook and Foursquare pages.

If you missed out on the fun last night, don’t worry, we still have plenty of dance left – which is great – because in the words of a nearby patron after the show, “We need more free around here.”

Why Dance Matters: A Highlight from After School Matters

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

“Why does dance matter?” Isn’t it obvious? Not when the answer is different for each individual.  For some people dance is an outlet. For others it’s a workout. But for some, the act of taking a beat, rhythm, emotion, or story is a way of life. It’s not for the purpose of “mattering.” For most people who perform in front of thousands of patrons or just a commuter on the subway (to potentially steal from some famous philosopher)… Dance just “is.”

In fact, there is an active online conversation on this very topic. You can participate in the discussion and provide your own answer via Pinterest, Facebook or by using the hashtag #WhyDanceMatters on Twitter.

We’d like to offer up a variety of responses to this question as well – as told to us from a Chicago youth program. We recently attended a rehearsal of Touch of Soul, an original commission by Chicago Dancing Festival in honor of Maggie Daley, performed by After School Matters, to be shown during “Chicago Dancing” and “Celebration of Dance”, part of this season’s Chicago Dancing Festival. After School Matters, (no relation to Why Dance Matters), is an organization whose mission is “to provide teens with opportunities to discover their potential and find their path to a meaningful life.” It was an opportunity to witness over 30 high school kids grooving, stepping, sliding, spinning, and jumping to contemporary beats in an urban dance choreographed by Nicholas Leichter. With 4 ½ days of rehearsal, in front of TV cameras and Twitter-bound iPhones, they produced a wildly energetic, precise yet authentic performance that, for them, was more than movement or music, it was an expression of something much bigger.

“Sometimes I dance just to let people know how awesome dancing is.”

“I dance to let people know this is me.”

“I dance because it’s who I am.”

“I do this to feel free.”

“We dance to find ourselves.”

“I dance not for me, but because it’s a family.”

“I dance to find my way.”

“I dance because I love it.”

The many touching and insightful comments made the day a truly unique experience and reminder of why we are proud to be artists. These student dancers will show how awesome dancing is on August 20th at the Harris Theatrer for Music and Dance and again on Saturday, August 25th at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, where you can see them perform among many other grand Chicago talent.

Before you go, we want to know: “Why do you dance?” Let us know by commenting below, or by posting your reply to or on If you tweet, don’t forget our hashtag, #CDF12!

Chicago Dancing Festival and Our Bloggers

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

With the Chicago Dancing Festival just around the corner, we wanted to give you a quick “behind the scenes” look from our Chicago Dancing Festival Blogger Program! Leading up to the Festival, our Partner Bloggers have been attending, reporting on, video recording and photographing the process. We wanted to share some highlights!

Rogue Ballerina attended the rehearsal of Giordano Dance Chicago with choreographer Alexander Ekman. According to her blog, “[Ekman’s] work – Two Become Three – was originally created last year on dancers at Julliard where the Chicago Dancing Festival co-founder Lar Lubovitch saw the piece and commissioned it for the opening night of this year’s festival.” Read the rest of her observations and reporting here.

Giordano dancers Martin Ortiz & Maeghan McHale work with choreographer Alexander Ekman. Photo by Joel Solari.

Rogue Ballerina also spoke with dancer Amber Nuemann of the Joffrey Ballet. Nuemann will be performing Forsythe’s In the Middle in this year’s Chicago Dancing program on Monday, August 20th at the Harris Theater. Read her interview with Nuemann here!

We are very proud to partner with Keigwin + Company in the creation of Bolero Chicago to perform during the opening night of the Chicago Dancing Festival. Several of our partner bloggers attended the Bolero Community Workshops that took place for Chicago volunteers to come and learn about Bolero and participate in a workshop in preparation for the rehearsals. Read from our music blogger, Contrapuntist, here, and our art appreciation blogger, Scott Silberstein of HMS Media, here!

Following the Bolero workshop are the Bolero rehearsals, currently underway! One of our bloggers, D Underbelly, who writes from the dance audience perspective, attended one of the rehearsals along with our photo blogger, ChicagoCeli. Read D Underbelly’s moving account of the rehearsal here, and check out some of the photos taken from ChicagoCeli below!

And the Festival isn’t just performances! On Tuesday, August 21st, we will be screening several dance films throughout the day at the Museum of Contemporary Art. This day-long event is curated by Sarah Best. Our family blogger, part of Chicago Now, spoke with Sarah about the movie program. Read her interview here!

We are thrilled to be working with such fantastic bloggers to bring you a behind-the-scenes look into the Festival and beyond. We will be posting links to their coverage during the Festival as well, so you can follow along.

And we hope you will also, of course, attend the Chicago Dancing Festival beginning this coming Monday! If you were unable to reserve your tickets, you can visit the performance spaces the day of each show and try to obtain standby tickets. You also can come to our Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday events and performances, which don’t require tickets. Please see our Events Page for details!

Bolero Chicago 2012 Workshop Recap and You Can Still Participate

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

The four community workshops for Bolero Chicago proved to be a wonderful success. Thank you so much for those of you who came out and danced alongside us! We had a few of our bloggers show up and share their thoughts on the workshop and our music blogger, Contrapuntist, even included some video examples of past Bolero Projects, one example below!

Check out some pictures from one of the community workshops here. Thank you to partner blogger, Scott Silberstein, for taking them for us! And thank you to all of you for supporting such an exciting program!

Want to join?  You still can!  E-mail [email protected] to learn how!

Bolero Chicago Begins Tomorrow and You Can Win Two VIP Tickets to Chicago Dancing Festival 2012

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

You may have read the Chicago Magazine article about Bolero Chicago – the 2012 Chicago Dancing Festival’s first ever community-based work featuring YOU!  (if you haven’t seen it, scroll down a bit…)

This weekend we will be holding FOUR community meetings for you to come and learn about how you can be a performer in Bolero Chicago and dance on the stages of the Harris Theater for Music and Dance and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park!  You only need to attend one of the meetings — Have you signed up to attend?  If not, this is our reminder to RSVP now and join us – it’s not too late! No dance experience necessary, and people of all ages and backgrounds are welcomed! This is going to be a spectacular opportunity to showcase YOU, our amazing Chicagoans, who have helped grow our Festival into national recognition. We’ve even thrown in a chance for those who RSVP, and attend, to receive two VIP tickets to a performance of this year’s Festival!

Information to attend the workshops are listed below. Find the time and location that works for you, and please join us in this amazing initiative!

The Details:

  • Friday, July 13th at 4.30 pm at The Dance Center of Columbia College In the Theater: 1306 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago 60605
  • Saturday, July 14th 11:00 at the National Museum of Mexican Art: 1852 W. 19th Street, Chicago 60608
  • Saturday, July 14th 2:00 at PINT: 1547 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago 60622
  • Sunday, July 15th 2:00 at the Beverly Arts Center: 2407 W. 111th Street, Chicago 60655

RSVP via e-mail to [email protected], and you will be entered for a chance to win TWO VIP TICKETS to a performance of the 2012 Chicago Dancing Festival.

We hope to see you this weekend!

Chicago Dancing Festival 2012: Giordano Dance Chicago Rehearsal

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Rehearsals have begun for the CDF commission and Chicago premier of renowned choreographer Alexander Ekman’s Two Become Three with Giordano Dance Chicago (GDC)! GDC was kind enough to send us pictures of their first rehearsal with Mr. Ekman at the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago. We didn’t think it’d be possible, but now we’re even more excited for the upcoming Festival!

Giordano Dance Chicago Dancers: Martin Ortiz Tapia, Maeghan McHale Photo: Joel Solari

Giordano Dance Chicago Dancers: Martin Ortiz Tapia, Maeghan McHale Photo: Joel Solari

Check out the rest of the photos on our Facebook Page and Pinterest account. Want more information on the 2012 Chicago Dancing Festival? Click here for the event listings and mark your calendars as tickets are available beginning July 17th!

You Think You Can Dance? Come Out and Show Us!

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

What about your friends?  — Your neighbors?  — Your colleagues?  We think all of you can and the 2012 Chicago Dancing Festival (August 20-25) invites you to show us! No dance experience necessary (really!).  OPEN CASTING CALL is fast approaching – join us for one of our meetings and sign-up to be a part of Bolero Chicago!

The Chicago Dancing Festival will host four community meetings for you to come and learn about how you can be a performer in our first ever community-based work, Bolero Chicago, which combines trained dancers with YOU for two performances in the 2012 Chicago Dancing Festival!  There has never been an opportunity like this with the Chicago Dancing Festival – be among the first of your friends to share the stage with top performers from Chicago and across the country by joining us at one of these neighborhood meetings to sign-up and be a part of this exciting opportunity!

  • Friday, July 13th at 4.30 pm at The Dance Center of Columbia College In the Theater: 1306 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago 60605
  • Saturday, July 14th 11:00 at the National Museum of Mexican Art: 1852 W. 19th Street, Chicago 60608
  • Saturday, July 14th 2:00 at PINT: 1547 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago 60622
  • Sunday, July 15th 2:00 at the Beverly Arts Center: 2407 W. 111th Street, Chicago 60655

Advanced RSVP is encouraged via e-mail to [email protected] and those who do will be entered for a chance to win TWO VIP TICKETS to a performance of the 2012 Chicago Dancing Festival!

Each community meeting, led by Keigwin + Company member Ashley Browne, will address what participants can expect in the Bolero Chicago rehearsal and performance process and what would be expected of them if they choose to commit to the project.  At the end of each meeting there will be a sign-up opportunity to join the Bolero Chicago cast.  There will not be a formal audition process.  Created over a two-week residency, rehearsals for Bolero Chicago will take place Monday through Friday evenings, August 6-11 and 13-18.  Participants will also need to attend dress rehearsals August 19 and 24.  Additional information about time commitments will be provided at each community meeting.  We welcome people of all ages, backgrounds and ability levels to participate and no prior dance experience is necessary!

The on-stage performances of Bolero Chicago occur at Chicago Dancing Festival’s opening program, “Chicago Dancing” at the Harris Theater, Monday, August 20 and again as part of the Festival’s grand finale program, “Celebration of Dance” at the Pritzker Pavilion on Saturday, August 25.

From August 20-25, 2012, the Chicago Dancing Festival will present six days of FREE dance programs by artists from Chicago and across the country, to an anticipated audience of 20,000!  Our mission is to elevate awareness of dance in Chicago and increase accessibility to the art form by presenting a wide variety of excellent dance that will enrich the lives of the people of Chicago, provide aspiration for local and future artists and raise the national and international profile of Chicago, furthering Chicago as a dance destination.

Announcing the Chicago Dancing Festival 2012 Line-Up

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

The time has come. The dates are here. The Chicago Dancing Festival is about to commence! From Monday, August 20th through Saturday, August 25th, you will once again be able to enjoy world-class dance throughout the city of Chicago. Last year was another amazing year, including recognition and attendance by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a newly-launched blogger outreach program, and completely sold-out performances. This year we are looking to raise the barre even higher (pun intended)!

Below are the companies scheduled to perform for the Chicago Dancing Festival 2012. Mark your calendars now. It’s going to be one amazing summer!

Monday, August 20 – “Chicago Dancing”
Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph Drive
·         Bolero Chicago
·         Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
·         The Joffrey Ballet
·         After School Matters
·         Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago

Tuesday, August 21 – “Dancing Movies”
Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Avenue
·         A day of screenings of dance on film highlights innovative collaborations between contemporary dance artists, filmmakers and musicians.

Wednesday, August 22 – “Dancing East and West of Chicago”
Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Parkway
·         Pacific Northwest Ballet guest artists
·         Ballet Arizona
·         Stars of San Francisco Ballet Sofiane Sylve and Vito Mazzeo
·         Martha Graham Dance Company
·         Brian Brooks Moving Company
·         Stars of New York City Ballet Gonzalo Garcia and Ana Sophia Scheller

Thursday, August 23 – “Dancing Under the Stars”
Chicago Dancing Festival partners with SummerDance Chicago – specific program to be announced at a later date.

Friday, August 24 – “Chicago Now”
Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Avenue
A discussion of the state of dance in Chicago today moderated by lead dance journalist and former dancer Zac Whittenburg, featuring three local companies performing in a lecture-demonstration format.

Saturday, August 25 – “Celebration of Dance”
Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park
·         Houston Ballet
·         Martha Graham Dance Company
·         Stars of San Francisco Ballet, Sofiane Sylve and Vito Mazzeo
·         Bolero Chicago
·         After School Matters
·         Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

All programs are subject to change.

Ticket Information
All events are free but tickets for the indoor performance showcases must be reserved in advance and “sell out” quickly.  No reservations are needed for the film screenings at the MCA or the outdoor “Celebration of Dance” performance at the Pritzker Pavilion.  Tickets will be available to the general public the week of July 16 in a staggered format so that each venue releases its tickets on a different day.

Keep up-to-date with the Festival and all relevant information on our Chicago Dancing 2012 Festival Web page, and through Twitter by following #CDF12.

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