Get ready for three days of more than a dozen dance performances for zero dollars. That's right: The Chicago Dancing Festival, the biggest free dance fest in the country, returns for an eighth year, and it won't cost you a cent to attend.
The creation of choreographer Lar Lubovitch and dancer Jay Franke, the fest kicks off on Wednesday, Aug. 20 at 7:30 p.m. with a commissioned piece created by Kyle Abraham and performed by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, plus performances by The Juilliard School, Martha Graham Dance Company and Stars of American Ballet. While the sold-out opening night takes place in the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, it will be simulcast on a screen at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion to reach an even wider audience.
Two other nights of performance include a sold-out evening of duets at the Museum of Contemporary Art (Friday, Aug. 22 at 6 and 8 p.m.) with performances by Adam Barruch, The Joffrey Ballet, Martha Graham Dance Company, Pam Tanowitz Dance and a new commissioned work, choreographed by Ron De Jesus. The grand finale celebration takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 23 at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion and features a third new work commissioned for the fest by choreographer Darrell Grand Moultrie, as well as performances by The Joffrey Ballet, The Juilliard School, Hubbard Street, Rennie Harris Puremovement and Washington Ballet dancers Brooklyn Mack and Maki Onuki. Here's what to expect from the fest's three new works.
'Counterpoint' by Kyle Abraham
On the festival's opening night, viewers will witness the world premiere of this piece performed by Hubbard Street. Glenn Edgerton, artistic director of the company, said Abraham plays with the concept of counterpoint throughout the work, from its staging to lighting, music and, of course, choreography. It integrates ballet technique with contemporary movements, all at a fast pace, highlighting the dancers' clarity of movement and athleticism. Edgerton said the performance–and festival as a whole–is enormously important to him and the company. "[It] opens the door for folks to come see us who've heard of Hubbard Street but never seen us, and to folks who've maybe never seen a dance performance, period."
Untitled duet by Ron De Jesus
Chicago choreographer Ron De Jesus is very familiar with the phrase "the show must go on." After he created a unique duet for two local dancers with The Nexus Project, one them was injured and unable to perform. Rather than find a replacement, De Jesus is creating an entirely new duet with two different dancers from The Nexus Project. While the project was still being crafted as of press time, he said his inspiration for the piece comes from "the fact that we are all walking novels. We tell of our mad journey while stretching the imagination … that creates a riveting display of our real-life actions."
'Cyclic Connections' by Darrell Grand Moultrie
On the festival's final evening, New York choreographer Darrell Grand Moultrie presents his work, "Cyclic Connections," performed by local high school students participating in After School Matters. Moultrie created the piece in just longer than a week and worked together with the dancers to generate movement—a process he said is challenging but rewarding. "The significance [of being a part of the festival] is being able to work with young people who are in a similar situation as I was once in, learning about the dance community and the process of being an artist," he said. "I get to be a thread in the process of their journey, which is very rewarding."
>>>The Chicago Dancing Festival takes place Wednesday, Friday and Saturday Aug. 20, 22 and 23. All events are free, but indoor events require tickets. Though the indoor Wednesday Aug. 20 show and Saturday Aug. 22 show are sold out, a stand-by line begins one1 hour prior to showtime and any unclaimed seats 15 minutes prior to curtain are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Find the full schedule at chicagodancingfestival.com.