Note: This article first appeared on Palos Patch by Shari Schmidt (http://patch.com/illinois/evanston/chicago-dancing-festival-opens-humor-and-joy), and is republished with permission from the author. Shari Schmidt is a member of the 2014 Chicago Dancing Festival blog partners program.
The Chicago Dancing Festival opened its 2014 showcase last evening at the Harris Theater with Classics and Creations. It was the perfect title for a show that brought together Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, college students in cut-offs and little girls in velvet holiday dresses. As much as the Chicago Dancing Festival is about the performances, it’s also about the audience. Part of the festival’s mission is to “present a wide variety of excellent dance, enrich the lives of the people of Chicago and provide increased accessibility to the art form.”
The opening night achieved all these things. Excellent dance was a given with a line-up that included Stars of the American Ballet, guest artists from The Joffrey Ballet, Martha Graham Dance Company, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and the Julliard School. The wide variety of dance came through when the Stars of the American Ballet started the evening in 1940’s New York as sailors on leave. The evening ended with youthful exuberance when The Julliard School took the audience to Ireland and Scotland as they danced “a virtuosic and playful abstraction of folk dances.”
In between the Martha Graham Dance Company took the audience into the mythical world of Theseus and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago performed the world premiere Counterpoint -- one of three Chicago Dancing Festival world premieres. After Counterpoint, choreographer Kyle Abraham was pulled on stage by the dancers. His huge smile reflected the audience’s enthusiasm and appreciat
Throughout the evening the audience reacted to each performance with unbridled enthusiasm. If you think dance performances are still, formal affairs, you underestimate the reaction an amazing performance can generate. Everyone from the experienced dance fans to the first-timers knows an amazing experience. The 2014 Chicago Dancing Festival opening night provided an amazing, free experience for everyone.
There are two more nights of the Chicago Dancing Festival: Friday, August 22 at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Saturday, August 23 at Millennium Park. Be sure to put one (or both) on your calendar.