It’s a small world after all… Part 3 – Michael Snipe Jr interviews Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell!

Posted in Chicago Dancing Company, Performances, Testimonials on August 5th, 2009 by MarcMacaranas

Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell | Photo by Andrew Eccles

I recently asked Michael Snipe Jr to interview Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell while she was in Chicago teaching for the Hubbard Street summer intensive. Check out this interesting conversation between two friends as they discuss Chicago ties, Fisher-Harrell’s take on Alvin Ailey’s Cry and life after Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Thanks Michael and Linda for this great read!

Michael Snipe Jr: So Linda, I know that you’ve come through Chicago for many years throughout your career with Ailey, but do you have any other connections with Chicago?

Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell: Yes, after I left Juilliard I danced with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago before joining The Ailey Company.

MSJr: Have you any connections with Jay Franke and Lar Lubovitch, the two founders of the Chicago Dancing Festival.

LDFH: Well, I just found out that some years after me, Jay Franke also attended the Juilliard School and then joined Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and I worked with Lar Lubovitch on 3 separate occasions while at Ailey. The first piece I did was a 15-minute duet called Fandango, set to Maurice Ravel’s Bolero. The second was called Cavalcade and the third was The Time Before The Time After (After The Time Before)

MSJr: So you’re going to be performing Mr. Ailey’s solo Cry here at the Festival, how does that make you feel?

LDFH: Nervous, Tired, Scared, Excited…Many, many things are going through my mind.

MSJr: You learned it 13 years ago, and I know it’s a long solo, do you still worry about stamina, or can you just get into a groove and perform it.

LDFH: OH yes, stamina is still an issue, especially since I’ve been away from the company for a while, but my being away from the company and the solo will also contribute to and enhance my performance.

MSJr: How so?

LDFH: Dancing can be so self absorbed at times and when I used to do the solo, it was a lot about the steps and getting through it. Now that I have stepped away from performing as much, I am teaching and mentoring. I had a baby girl, and I’ve just been experiencing other aspects of life, all of those factors will contribute to my journey in the solo.

MSJr: And what a journey it is. I know that there are three sections to the solo. Do you have a favorite?

LDFH: I will have to say it’s a toss up between the first and the second sections. With the first section, you have the cloth and it can be used in so many ways. As it lies in your arms it can be a body that you’re mourning over. When on the floor it can be represented as you scrubbing blood off the floor and as a slave cleaning…but just as easy as you are cleaning the floor with it, you take it and wrap it around your head and you become this noble queen. It’s amazing. The second section allows you to lose yourself emotionally. You can dig deep within yourself through the music and you’ll be surprised with what you might find.

MSJr: That sounds fantastic Linda. I know many people are excited to have you back in Chicago and to be a part of the Chicago Dancing Festival. What’s the largest audience you’ve ever performed for?

LDFH: I think it will be for this festival. I’ve performed in Athens, Greece at the Herodes Atticus Theater and they attract huge crowds, but I heard last year there were about 10,000 people here for the Chicago Dancing Festival. Now, that’s exciting.


Don’t miss Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell’s exciting performance of Alvin Ailey’s Cry on Saturday, August 22 at the Celebration of American Dance in Millennium Park! Be sure to come early to nab your seats at the Pritzker Pavilion or stake out a plot on the lawn – this is definitely going to be the dance event of the year!

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Interview with Trey McIntyre

Posted in Chicago Dancing Company, Performances on July 29th, 2009 by Greg Russell

We sat down briefly this week with Trey McIntyre to discuss his piece, Just, that Oregon Ballet is performing at the New Voices concert, Tuesday, Aug. 18.

Chicago Dancing Festival: Most of your work seems to be created to popular music; was there a particular challenge, or different method in choreographing to Henry Cowell’s more classical composition?

Trey McIntyre: There is a different method and challenge to creating any piece. The difference isn’t so much in the musical choice as in the content and what the work finds itself to be about.

CDF: Are there relationships or stories within the couples or between the couples?

TM: Sure, but not in a linear sense like she loves him and he loves her.

CDF: You were resident choreographer in Portland, and Artur and Alison worked with Trey McIntyre Project. Did knowing these dancers influence the creation of Just? How was it different than creating work as a guest choreographer with other companies?

TM: It made a huge difference. The more I know a dancer, the further we can go. It’s one of the main reasons for starting Trey McIntyre Project. I’ve been working with companies all over the world for over 20 years and had truly reached a ceiling in terms of growth. There are basics we have established. Developed intuition. Trust. A deepening of ideas.

CDF: There are difficult ballet steps in Just. Is it your most challenging piece for dancers technically?

TM: No, but perhaps the most exposing technically. Not much to the costumes.

CDF: Any other behind-the-scenes points that may be of interest?

TM: The costumes were created by first time costume designer Patrick Long of Portland, Oregon.

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Happy Anniversary wishes from Chicago Dancing Festival

Posted in Chicago Dancing Company on July 20th, 2009 by Teri Fritze

The Chicago Dancing Festival has an amazing line up of dance companies that will perform in Chicago during a week-long festival this August 18-22, 2009. Did you know that many of the companies performing are celebrating milestone anniversaries this Season. Happy Anniversary and Congrats to the following companies:

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater- 50 years


Dayton Contemporary Dance Company- 40 years

Houston Ballet- 40 years

Lar Lubovitch Dance Company- 40 years

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago- 30 years

Richmond Ballet- 25 years

River North Chicago Dance Company- 20 years

Les Ballet Grandiva- 10 years

Luna Negra Dance Theater- 10 years

We wish you many more years of great performances!

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Public Enemies, Othello, Chicago Dancing Festival & MJ’s Bad

Posted in Chicago Dancing Company, Performances, Reviews on July 9th, 2009 by Greg Russell

I’ve read two great articles recently on Elliot Goldenthal, the composer of the current movie, Public Enemies (found here and here).  They caught my eye because Goldenthal also composed the music for the full-length dramatic ballet Othello, originally choreographed for American Ballet Theater and San Francisco Ballet by our very own Lar Lubovitch (Co-Artistic Director of CDF.)


The San Francisco Chronicle called the ballet “a major new chapter in American ballet.”  Lar is now setting Othello on the Joffrey Ballet for its upcoming fall season.  You can see the Joffrey perform in two of the CDF 09 performances, New Voices (Aug. 18) and Modern Masters (Aug. 20).

Speaking of Othello-related things you’ll see at the festival - star-dancer Desmond Richardson performed in CDF 07 and danced the leading role in Othello both at American Ballet Theater and San Francisco Ballet.  And, I just recently learned, he also danced in Michael Jackson’s “Bad” video!  If anyone knows more about Desmond’s appearance in “Bad” and would like to share, please post your comments here.

Welcome to the third-annual Chicago Dancing Festival

Posted in Chicago Dancing Company, Performances on June 22nd, 2009 by Greg Russell

Welcome to the third-annual Chicago Dancing Festival.  This year promises to be our best yet.  The Festival has expanded to a five-day event starting Tuesday, August 18 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance and ending with a Saturday, August 22 performance at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park.  In between, we are adding a second performance at the Harris Theater and collaborating with the Museum of Contemporary Art in its Artists Up Close series.  And like previous years, all Chicago Dancing Festival events are free!

Read more »

Thank You!

Posted in Chicago Dancing Company on September 9th, 2008 by Chicago Dancing Festival

Thank you for attending the 2008 Chicago Dancing Festival.  Following sold out performances at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance and Museum of Contemporary Art, Celebration of American Dance in Millennium Park drew over 10,000 spectators.  We were thrilled to see all of you enjoying the wonderful variety of companies and dance styles from across the country.

The weather was beautiful and the air was electric with enthusiasm.  The Chicago Tribune called it an “enchanted evening,” and the Chicago Sun-Times says “it was magical.”  We hope you were able to be a part of it and will let us know your thoughts.  Don’t forget to sign up for our e-newsletter to receive updates on next year’s festival!

See you next summer!

Last Year

Posted in Chicago Dancing Company, Testimonials on August 20th, 2008 by Chicago Dancing Festival

Here are what some of last year’s participants had to say about Chicago Dancing Festival:

I had a great time at the Chicago Dancing Festival last year. It was so inspiring to be on the same stage with so many beautiful artists. What a fantastic experience to be a part of such a keen presentation of the many facets of dance!
-Valerie Robin
Dancer, The Joffrey Ballet

I am very excited to be a part of Chicago Dancing Festival 2008. Last year was an amazing experience. So far in my career I have yet to experience the energy and excitement that was created at last years performance. I can’t think of anywhere in America where as an audience member you get to see such a variety of dancers and styles all on one stage. I can only hope that this year’s show will be as memorable as last. Thank you.
-Jared Matthews
Dancer, American Ballet Theatre

Watch Highlights from the 2007 Chicago Dancing Festival!

8,500 attended the festival, despite the threat of rain. The weather forecast for tonight is partly cloudy and 75°! We hope to see you there!


Posted in Chicago Dancing Company on August 14th, 2008 by Chicago Dancing Festival

We would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to the 2nd annual Chicago Dancing Festival. The Chicago Dancing Festival began last summer with a free performance in the Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago’s Millennium Park on August 22. If you were a part of that magical night, then you will definitely remember the enthusiasm of the audience, along with the most amazing performances from some of our country’s leading dancers.

Still riding high from the overwhelming success of last year’s inaugural event, we are very excited to share this year’s Festival with you. We have grown this summer’s Festival to include 11 different dance companies from all over the U.S. and three days of FREE programming, including two performances and an “Artists Up Close” event at the MCA. We hope this year’s Festival inspires you to experience more dance in Chicago, and that you will make the Chicago Dancing Festival a must for your 2009 summer plans. Enjoy and see you next summer!

Lar Lubovitch and Jay Franke
Founders and Artistic Directors