Archive for August, 2010

Welcome to Chicago Dancing Festival 2010!

Wednesday, August 25th, 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!

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

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?