Archive for the ‘Chicago Dancing Company’ Category

Natalie Williams Joins the Chicago Dancing Festival Creative Team!

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

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

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

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!

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

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!


Knock, knock. Remember us?

Friday, December 17th, 2010

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!

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!

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

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

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!

Interview with Trey McIntyre

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

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.

Happy Anniversary wishes from Chicago Dancing Festival

Monday, July 20th, 2009

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!

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

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

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

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

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!