Peace, Love, Joy and Dance


From all of us at the Chicago Dancing Festival, we wish you a wonderful holiday season full of Peace, Love, Joy and DANCE!  Thank you for making our 5th year a huge success and we look forward to sharing Chicago Dancing Festival 2012 with you!

CDF Blogger Rogue Ballerina: CDF Opening Gala

Last night was the opening night gala kicking off the fifth year of the Chicago Dancing Festival (CDF). A short 5-piece program on the MCA Stage was followed by cocktails, a buffet with three ballroom dance couples interspersed upstairs at Puck’s Restaurant and outside on the terrace.  The $250-a-head evening was co-chaired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who stayed to mingle after the show along with his wife and daughter.  A few short speeches preceded the performance. MCA Director of Performance Programs Peter Taub opened the fest saying, “We are here to celebrate the best of dance from across the country”.

David Herro, Jay Franke, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Lar Lubovitch Photo: Dominika Fitzgerald

CDF co-founder Jay Franke gave some impressive stats including that in the past five years the festival has presented over 35 companies and over 400 dancers and proudly announced that this year CDF sold out approximately 10,000 seats for this week’s performances.  Franke turned over the mic to Mayor Emanuel, who celebrated his 100th day in office by attending the gala.  The Mayor, a former dancer and huge fan, declared that he wants to double the size of the fest and make sure Chicago is the dance destination for the entire country. He added there are 19 companies performing this week to an estimated 19,000 audience members.  Co-founder Lar Lubovitch said, “One cannot describe dance in words, no matter how eloquent,” but then went on to read the most eloquent essay (written by him) on duets, five of which we were about to see.

To read the remaining post by Chicago Dancing Festival Partner Blogger, Rogue Ballerina, click HERE!


HMS Media invites you to join us next week!

You Are Invited

I recently attended the Chicago Dancing Festival kick-off party, and you couldn’t have asked for a more welcoming, enthusiastic invitation to come join the festival. The kick-off party took place at Benchmark, the Old Town bar and restaurant on Wells Street, just a block or so south of The Second City.

Downstairs, patrons must have heard the great music, the waves of laughter and the wild applause coming from the upstairs venue and been both curious about what was happening up there, and envious they weren’t a part of it. If only they could have not only heard but seen what we lucky folks were hearing and seeing: three pairs of dancers, the first two hoofing their way through a rollicking tap number, followed by a couple from DanceWorks Chicago pulsing piece called “Beat in the Box,” and ending with a sensual duet from Luna Negra.

Dance has this reputation for being exclusive or elitist, which has always baffled me because in my twenty-plus years working with dance companies, I’ve not found a more welcoming, expressive, communicative and collaborative bunch of people, anywhere. The CDF kick-off was a wonderful little microcosm of this extraordinary community; it welcomed me with open arms, offered me a glimpse of something special through those three wonderful performances, and made sure I felt invited and welcomed to experience the myriad aspects of the festival when it begins its run in downtown Chicago on August 22. Now celebrating its fifth year, the Chicago Dancing Festival brings in dance companies from all over the country to share the stage with some top Chicago troupes, and presents a spectacular series of shows for Chicago audiences in venues all over downtown. For free.

Think about that. A week’s worth of amazing dance and great music, featuring some of the best dancers and dance companies in the country, and all you need to do is pay for parking, cab fare or a train ride. Not a bad way to spend a night, or a week, when summer’s slow and money’s tight.

The kick-off party reminded me of a notion that’s popped into my brain over the years since, which is that, if you think about it, we’re all dancers. Or at the very least, we’re all movers. We’re all natural rhythm makers. Our hearts beat, we tap our toes, we walk with a certain tempo. We not only feel the urge to move; if we’re sedentary for too long, we start to feel antsy, stir-crazy and just plain wrong.

We communicate non-verbally all the time, at least as much as we talk and listen, if not more. The simple nod of a head, the way we take someone’s hand, the way we catch someone’s eye across a room and perhaps even find the courage to approach them – these are all steps on the road to dancing.

And when we move together, be it on a dance floor, on a walk by the lake, on a basketball court, or in bed, it can be exhilarating. Even if we’re just figuring out how to do it – even if we’re extraordinarily clumsy at it – the sheer attempt is festive.

We’ve always seemed to understand that here in Chicago, which might be why we’re not only an international dance mecca but also the City of Dance Festivals. This is stuff we celebrate all year round, and we’re about to start celebrating again.

The CDF kick-off party had one message: Chicago, this festival’s for you. Whatever kind of dance you like, and whether you like to watch in an indoor spot like the MCA or the Harris, or on a picnic blanket under the stars at Millennium Park – we’ve got it for you, and you’re all invited.

I will look forward to seeing you there. You did get your invitation, didn’t you?

For more information, check out the Chicago Dancing Festival website:
Retrieved from:

Chicago Dancing Festival Announces its 2011 Blog Partnership Program and Foursquare Cinq-Up

Did you go to the Chicago Dancing Festival last year? Are you a professional dancer, an avid audience member or is this the first time you’ve ever heard of the Chicago Dancing Festival?

Artist: Adam Barruch Photo: Christopher Duggan


2011 brings the 5th anniversary of the Chicago Dancing Festival and we are excited and honored to bring the Chicagoland community 5 nights of performances highlighting a wide variety of excellent dance from Chicago and around the country - FOR FREE!

We know that not everyone knows about the Chicago Dancing Festival, or all that we are offering until it has already passed, so we’re changing that - right now - with the launch of our…

2011 Blog Partnership Program and Foursquare Cinq-Up

We have partnered with five Chicago-area bloggers who write for varying audiences, to educate and excite people on what the Festival is all about and how they can take advantage of our festivities! Starting this month, you will have access to regular content from our bloggers including Festival interviews, behind-the-scenes access and of course, event coverage.  Stay tuned here as we will be posting excerpts of each of the blogs under the blog category “Chicago Dancing Festival 2011.”  We also invite you to follow along with them on their site or on Twitter using the hashtag #CDF11!

Company: Ballet West Photo: Todd Rosenberg

Meet our Bloggers!

Rogue Ballerina: Vicki Crain (the voice behind this Chicago-based dance blog) brings to you highlights of Chicago-based dancers, choreographers, directors and “all-around artsy performance folk”. Vicki will be providing those of you familiar with dance an ‘insider’s look’ into the Festival.

Contrapuntist: Dance isn’t just about the dancers - it’s also about the music. Miguel Cano is a classically trained guitarist and an all-round music lover. His wife, Erin Cano, is a classically trained violist and Suzuki certified music instructor. During the Festival, Miguel and Erin are going to feature the sounds behind the Festival.

Chicago Photo Blog: Araceli Arroyo has taken gorgeous photographs depicting Chicago and its wonders. Now she’s going to capture the Chicago Dancing Festival purely through photographs. The dancers, the patrons, the venues…and you can see them all on her blog and her Flickr account.

Traci D. Mitchell: Traci is a Chicago blogger who writes on fitness, food, family and fun! She is both a writer and speaker on fitness, nutrition and health. Before and during the Festival, she will showcase the athletics of the Festival. Learn how these world famous dancers prepare for a performance, and find out how they stay healthy and fit to succeed in some of those jaw-dropping moves.

Straight From The Arts: Written by Scott Silberstein - multi-Emmy-Award winning producer and composer for HMS Media and a company member of the Tony Award-winning Lookingglass Theatre Company - is an avid fan of the arts. His blog is a collection of his thoughts from a ‘regular guy’s’ perspective. It’s his way of getting away from behind the stage and into the audience. Read along with him during the Festival to watch, listen, and enjoy the show!

Company: Ballet West Photo: Luke Isley

When the Festival is underway (August 22-27, 2011), don’t forget to let your friends know which event you are attending by checking-in on Foursquare through our Foursquare Cinq-Up* program! Each venue will have its own Festival check-in (i.e. Chicago Dancing Festival at Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park, etc.) where you can access insider tips and user-generated photos. There will also be some fun specials offered if you check-in to two or more Festival events! You can see all the updates from our Foursquare page!

*Cinq - French for five and a play on sync, a harmonious relationship - that’s us, with all of you.  Thank you for your continued support and patronage.

We can’t wait to see you at the Festival!

Questions? Comment below and we’ll try to help!

Natalie Williams Joins the Chicago Dancing Festival Creative Team!

Hi Everyone!  As Chicago grows sunny and warm, the Chicago Dancing Festival’s fifth anniversary season is quickly approaching!  All of us here at CDF are energized to bring you the largest most spirited festival yet!  My name is Natalie Williams and I am absolutely honored to be joining the Chicago Dancing Festival team this year!

I come to CDF from the professional dance world where I currently perform with DanszLoop Chicago and Jaxon Movement Arts.  My career began as a member of the children’s choir in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, starring Donny Osmond at the Chicago Theater.  I later trained on fellowship with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and received a BFA in Dance Performance from Northern Illinois University.  Upon graduation, I relocated to tour nationally with Koresh Dance Company.  Here in Chicagoland I have also danced with Thodos Dance Chicago, Momenta, Inaside Chicago Dance, independently with Francisco Avina, Stephanie Martinez, Autumn Eckman, Jessica Miller-Tomlinson, Jenna Dillon and most recently in Jim Corti’s Drury Lane Production of Aida.  After winning first place in two salsa competitions, my wonderful partner Erik and I now travel and perform through our co-founded Firefall Dance Company.

I fell in love with dance because it embodies the magic of the human imagination.  The dance world is an intriguing place where brilliant athletes take the stage and inspire onlookers to contemplate and celebrate the wonders of life.  I am proud to be a part of The Chicago Dancing Festival because it brings that exciting world to Chicago’s finest performing art venues… and does so free to the public!

Continue to check in with us often.  I will be posting regularly along with the rest of the CDF team to give you updates on upcoming events and ways you can be a part of this season’s action!

Chicago Dancing Festival Team Member Bio: Benjamin Hooson

Hi all you dance festival fans out there! This update is coming to you from the Chicago Dancing Festival’s new intern, Benjamin. I’m currently a senior at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where I primarily study new video technology. I’m very excited to gain more experience in arts administration through this internship; and with my background in the performing arts and long-time love for dance, I’m thrilled to be part of the team! As we draw closer to the Festival’s opening events, I’ll be posting more regular updates on our company blog, Twitter, and Facebook! Everyone here at CDF is excited to help make this, our 5th Anniversary, our best Festival season yet!

The dance lineup this year is diverse and exhilarating, with many of the nation’s most esteemed companies performing the works of some of the most legendary choreographers in history. You won’t have to be a dance buff to appreciate and marvel at these spectacular performances that will grace some of the city’s finest stages this August. So even if you’re not a dance aficionado and aren’t sure what to expect, at least expect to be WOWed!

Things are starting to speed up here in the CDF office at the Museum of Contemporary Art. We are working diligently to ensure that everything will run smoothly at each of our eight free events this year. It’s been a real privilege working with the staff here and getting to know the world of the Chicago Dancing Festival.

So far my work here has focused on doing research for the Festival website and program to further inform you about the dance companies, their dancers, the choreographers, and the dances themselves that will be featured in this year’s Festival, so stay tuned for more updates!

Lar HONORed and Pam a CHAMPION of dance - we couldn’t agree more!

Lar Lubovitch Recipient of the 2011 Dance/USA Honor Award (Photo: Jack Mitchell)

We at the Chicago Dancing Festival are THRILLED to share with you that in recognition of his extraordinary and lasting  contributions to the dance field, our Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director, Lar Lubovitch, has been selected to receive the 2011 Dance/USA Honor Award – and – in recognition of her outstanding contributions to dance in Chicago, Chicago Dancing Festival Advisory Board Member, Pamela Crutchfield, will receive the Dance/USA Champion Award!

Pam Crutchfield Recipient of the 2011 Dance/USA Champion Award (Photo: Cheryl Mann)

Please join us in congratulating Lar and Pam!

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Knock, knock. Remember us?

It is now December 17th and summer seems a distant memory amongst the puffy coats and slush, but don’t think we have forgotten about you.  We haven’t.  Not for a single second.  In fact each of you, seasoned fans, artists and newbies alike, are at the forefront of our minds.  Why?  Because Chicago Dancing Festival 2011 plans are already underway and as we head into the new year, I could not be more thrilled and honored to join this extraordinary organization.  My name is Evin Nicole Eubanks and I am the new Executive Director.

For our newbies, a brief history:

The Chicago Dancing Festival was founded in 2007 with a mission to present a wide variety of excellent dance and build dance audiences in Chicago.  On August 22, 2007, in association with our esteemed partners, the Museum of Contemporary Art and Millennium Park, City of Chicago, we presented a free one-night only performance at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.  More than 8,500 people attended the inaugural event.  In 2008, we added a second performance, in 2009 a third and in 2010 a fourth.  Having successfully presented the highly acclaimed four night 2010 program to more than 12,000 audience members from across the country, the Chicago Dancing Festival is quickly defining itself as a leading destination for the very best in dance.

On behalf of all of us at the Chicago Dancing Festival, we wish you a joyous holiday season and a happy new year because before you know it, summer will be here and when it arrives there will be:



August 23 – 27, 2011

 Stay tuned.  Exciting updates are on the way…

To learn about ways in which you can support the Festival, click

Welcome to Chicago Dancing Festival 2010!

Welcome to Chicago Dancing Festival 2010! The Festival returns for its fourth annual engagement August 25-28.  We are delighted and proud to welcome new faces, such as Ailey II, Ballet West, Juilliard Dance, Mark Morris Dance Group and guest artists from The Royal Ballet, as well as the return of fan favorites—Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, The Joffrey Ballet, Kanji Segawa, Wendy Whelan of NYCB, among others—to this three-day celebration of dance.

The Festival’s free performances begin Thursday, August 26th at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance with a program titled “Modern Masters.”  The Joffrey Ballet will perform Crossed by Jessica Lang.  Set to Mozart, Handel and des Prez, the piece is a reflection and reaction to music that was inspired by religion.  LAST LOOK is a work created by one of the nation’s greatest dancemakers, Paul Taylor, and will be performed by Juilliard Dance.  Co-artistic director of the Festival, Lar Lubovitch, will be presenting his company, Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, in Coltrane’s Favorite Things.  This piece, set to music by John Coltrane, has been described as ribbons of movement that parallel the sheets of sound the music produces.  Guest artists of the New York City Ballet. Wendy Whelan & Craig Hall, will perform the duet Liturgy by Christopher Wheeldon.  This ballet, paired with a score by Arvo Pärt, emits a sense of spirituality brought on by the journey the dancers take.  Mark Morris, recent recipient of the prestigious Leonard Bernstein Lifetime Achievement Award for the Elevation of Music in Society, will be represented twice during the Festival: Mark Morris Dance Group will perform V on Thursday’s “Modern Masters” program and Grand Duo at Saturday’s Pritzker Pavilion performance.

“The Dancing Skyline,” which will take place Friday, August 27 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, is a lecture demonstration focused on the themes of architecture and dance, moderated by distinguished dance writer and critic Lucia Mauro, in conversation with world-acclaimed architect Dirk Denison and renowned choreographer and Festival director, Lar Lubovitch.  Featured performances at this event are Lar Lubovitch’s duet Meadow and the pas de deux from George Balanchine’s Agon, both chosen for the architectural themes inherent in the choreography.

Saturday’s “Celebration of Dance,” the culminating performance of this year’s Festival will be held, as always, at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.  Some of the most esteemed dancers will share the stage in this outdoor concert under the stars.  Mark Morris Dance Group will perform the tension-filled Grand Duo. Guest artists from The Royal Ballet will dance the pas de deux from Manon, by the great choreographer, Sir Kenneth MacMillan.  George Balanchine’s masterpiece Serenade, will be danced by Ballet West.  One of the interesting aspects of Serenade is Balanchine’s incorporation of random occurrences from rehearsal, such as a ballerina falling or the late arrival of a dancer.  Robert Battle’s Takademe, danced by Kanji Segawa, one of the crowd’s favorite from Festival 2008, is a deconstruction of the complex rhythms of Indian Kathak.  Clear shapes and propulsive jumps mimic the vocalized rhythmic music of Sheila Chandra’s score.  Mr. Battle, recently named artistic director designate of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, will also be represented by his work, The Hunt, performed by Ailey II.  This ballet for six male dancers depicts the primitive nature of humans by comparing modern sports with gladiatorial rituals.  The Joffrey Ballet’s Exelon Strobel Step-Up Program kicks the evening off, and The Joffrey Ballet closes the show with an excerpt from Trinity (coincidentally subtitled Saturday!) Gerald Arpino, co-founder of the Joffrey Ballet, choreographed this work keeping in mind the tempestuous 1960s and 70s and celebrates youth and passion.

On Wednesday, August 25th, Chicago Dancing Festival presents its opening night gala, dedicated to its donors.  We could not present the Festival’s high-quality roster of free programming without the very generous support of our individual, foundation and corporate supporters.  I thank our board of directors for their dedicated leadership and would like to give special thanks to our artistic directors, Lar Lubovitch and Jay Franke, for their passion for dance and vision in creating this special gift for all of Chicago.

Chicago Dancing Festival 2010 is packed with brilliant dancers performing the works of some of the world’s most accomplished and renowned choreographers.  I am thrilled to be able to share these performances with you.  See you there!

Meet Battleworks’ Kanji Segawa!

Welcome back to Chicago Dancing Festival, dance lovers and Festival fans! We’re only a few days away from our opening performance and we’ve been working all year to provide you a summer of dance worth talking about. Be on the lookout for great reads about the dancers and choreographers involved in the Festival this year, as we’ve got some great interviews lined up.

For many dance lovers who attended Celebration of American Dance at Pritzker Pavilion in 2008, Kanji Segawa delivered an incredibly powerful, punch-you-in-your-face performance of Robert Battle’s signature work, Takademe. This year he returns to CDF with a reprise performance you’ll definitely not want to miss.

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Kanji (via the wonders of technology) to discuss the Festival, his connections to other Festival companies and choreographers (including his wife, choreographer Jessica Lang),  and where you can find him in the very near future.

MM: The last time you performed Takademe in Chicago two years ago, the audience at the Pritzker Pavilion went crazy for you. I’ve never seen that much uproar over a solo performance. Is it exciting for you to return to Chicago for a repeat performance of Takedeme?

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