Chicago Bursts Into Dance Next Week
It may seem extravagant to take a trip to Chicago for a long weekend— depending on where you are in the country. But if the purpose is to attend the Chicago Dancing Festival, Aug. 25–29, it would be well worth it.
The Joffrey's Rory Hohenstein in Justin Peck's "In Creases," photo by Cheryl Mann
Aside from dazzling selections of ballet, modern, and tap, there will be a tribute to co-founder Lar Lubovitch and a program that celebrates women in modern dance. Lubovitch has made a career of gorgeous, flowing, complex pieces that combine the line of ballet with the groundedness and daring of modern dance. He’s a choreographer who has danced to his own drum, no matter what the trends are, for five decades.
The local Chicago area, always brimming with a diversity of dance, will be represented by the Joffrey Ballet in Justin Peck’s In Creases, a world premiere by tap maven Lane Alexander for Chicago Human Rhythm Project, and Hubbard Street performing Crystal Pite’s beguiling, confounding A Picture of You Falling.
Opening night includes Lubovitch’s The Black Rose; Ballet Hispanico in Gustavo Ramírez Sansano’s sweet, funny, poignant romp El Beso; and Pam Tanowitz Dance performing to live music by members of the Chicago Philharmonic.
Lar Lubovitch's "The Black Rose" photo by Yi-Chun Wu
The second night is the “Modern Women” night, bringing together icons of history with current women among us. On the bill are Lori Belilove & The Isadora Duncan Dance Company, a Martha Graham soloist in Graham’s Deep Song, Kate Weare Dance Company, and the Pite and Tanowitz works.
The next three nights hold more goodies including the Joffrey in Stanton Welch’s luscious Maninyas, Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante from Miami City Ballet, a pas de deux from American Ballet Theatre, Brian Brooks Moving Company, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.
The Joffrey's Amanda Assucena and Fabrice Calmels in "Maninyas" by Stanton Welch. photo by Cheryl Mann.
The entire festival, stretched over five days and four venues, is FREE! For full schedule, click here.
Jennifer Kahn knew the theater industry could do better. As a professional stage manager for 17 years she worked on regional, off-Broadway and Broadway shows. Nearly each time a show closed, something unsettling happened: "I would watch them throw away our shows. All of the beautiful artwork by my friends in the paint shop would go in the trash." The elaborate backdrops? Gone.
But she had an idea: What if the material used in the backdrops and legs could be upcycled into something new? And what if theater lovers could literally keep a piece of a beloved show?
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.
For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.
New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns wasn't sure she was strong enough. A ballerina who has danced many demanding full-length and contemporary roles, she was about to push herself physically more than she thought was possible.
"I said, 'I can't. My body won't,' " she says. "He told me, 'Yes, it will.' "
She wasn't working with a ballet coach, but with personal trainer Joel Prouty, who was asking her to do squats with a heavier barbell than she'd ever used.