Archive for the ‘Testimonials’ Category

Dancer Highlights

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

What happens when over a hundred of the country’s greatest artist athletes meet backstage? Chicago Dancing Festival is a melting pot of talent. Give yourselves (and others) a shout-out by commenting below. Welcome to Chicago!

Doin’ Battle: Marc Macaranas hits up Hanna Brictson

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

photo by Cheryl Mann

Marc Macaranas is possibly River North Chicago Dance Company’s biggest fan. He is also a founding member and astute dancer with DanceWorks Chicago (who will be performing as part of the Chicago Dancing Festival throughout the day in Millennium Park on Saturday August 22, 2009).

Hanna Brictson is in her sixth season with RivNo, dynamic and unforgettable she will be performing Robert Battle’s Train with the company on Tuesday August 18th: New Voices at the Harris Theatre.

Marc and Hanna have both worked with master choreographer Robert Battle. Recently they sat down to discuss their shared experience.

River North’s style, to me, is very lush and expressive and makes use of a lot of port de bras; Robert Battle’s style is definitely not the same. How would you say that Train has evolved into the signature River North piece that it is now?

I think the reason it’s evolved into a River North piece is because of the intent behind it. I find a lot of our pieces, at least for me, are emotionally connected, and that’s how I connect with the audience. So although this is on a completely different level, River North is not harsh usually, I’m able to connect to the audience with that same River North style. It’s not so much about the movement, it’s about the feeling you get from it – that makes it River North.

DanceWorks Chicago also has two of Robert’s pieces, Etude and Takademe, and doing his work is some of the most physically demanding dance that I’ve done; what energy do you have to channel to meet the physicality of the work or is there ever a moment you can just “phone it in”?

Ok, definitely never phone it in – I can never do that. I think it’s a calmness I need to have, which sounds completely opposite, but I think to start from that, almost as if it was a silence -  it’s a place to build from. Sometimes you get through it at that calm level and then your will power kicks in at the last minute.

So there’s two different kinds of energy? A physical energy and a mental stamina?

I feel like the mental stamina is there from the beginning… when I start, the intensity is there in my mind, but physically I’m coming from a place where I know how to work things, and I’m coming from my knowledge as a dancer – how to use your body, how to work through things, and then at a certain point, I can’t use my knowledge, I can’t use my technique, I can’t use what people have taught me; all I can use, literally (I know it sounds corny), is how much power I have inside of me, and then it’s something I can’t even describe… it’s part of what makes me live, that strength that you need sometimes.

Specifically when performing Train or when you do any River North rep?

Train has totally pulled out a different side of myself and a different side of my physical self, and I’ve never felt like I had to pull physically to get myself through something the way I have with Train, I can’t even compare it to anything else.

I think Etude and Train come from different vocabularies, but they definitely come from the same voice. What would you describe that voice to be, that intent?

For some reason, the word “life” comes to mind. Robert didn’t give us a whole lot of direction on what the reason was behind what we were doing, so i’ve had to create that – for me it’s how I’ve gotten to this point in my life. I think that when I’m dancing Robert’s stuff, it’s that journey through those times you don’t want to talk about anymore but you let it out through those 3 minutes.

We both know that Robert works very quickly. Do you think the intensity of that short period speaks to the style of the movement? Do you think it would change if given a longer creative process?

I think it probably would have changed if [the process] was longer. When he sets it so quickly, it never gets to that finished cleanliness that it’ll get because you rehearse it plenty of times, but from what you know of how it’s supposed to be, it always continues to stay in that raw stage… I feel like a lot choreographers want to start cleaning before they finish their works and he didn’t feel the need to that, he left it up to us. When you see it that quickly, and that movement is crazy fast, it’s going to be raw, it’s going to be whatever you make of it.

Do you think the piece has maintained the same integrity or purity as when Robert come to create it on you, or has it become something else to take on that River North quality?

I think it evolves every time we do it, the nature of getting stronger at it and deciding what you want to make of it every time. I’ve never thought of it in a River North way… I keep it in a separate world, I just think of it as Train, I don’t even think of it as a  piece of River North’s rep, I think of it as Robert Battle’s Train.

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!

Oregon Ballet Theatre

Friday, October 10th, 2008

“Performing at the Chicago Dancing Festival this year was incredible.  It was a real privilege to share a stage with so many talented dancers.   I was especially happy to have the opportunity to see ‘Concerto 622.’ We performed the work at OBT two years ago, and the duet from that ballet is one of my all-time favorite roles.  To see Mr. Lubovitch’s own company dancing it was an added bonus to an already great experience.”
– Ronnie Underwood, Oregon Ballet Theatre

“I was so happy to participate in this year’s festival.  Everybody involved was very nice and welcoming, and the audience was fantastic.  Congratulations to everyone in Chicago for such a wonderful success.  I really hope I have the opportunity to come back again next year!”
- Yuka Iino, Oregon Ballet Theatre

Last Year

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

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!