Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Dancing Festival’

Peace, Love, Joy and Dance

Friday, December 9th, 2011


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!

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

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.

Getting “Familiar” with Jessica Lang | Interview by Jay Franke

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Jessica Lang is in Chicago setting her world premiere that will be a part of the Joffrey 09-10 dance season. Young and extremely gifted, she is also one of the “New Voices” selected to present her work as part of the 2010 Chicago Dancing Festival. Jay Franke, co-founder/artistic director of the festival recently sat down with Jessica to discuss her piece To Familiar Spaces in Dream that will be performed by the Richmond Ballet on August 18th at the Harris Theatre for Music and Dance at Millennium Park.

In this piece, you have used music by 3 different composers: Philip Glass, John Cage, and Craig Armstrong. What connections did you make between these 3 musical compositions and the movement?

To Familiar Spaces in Dream is the second part of a two-piece full evening idea about piano music. I chose these musical selections because my piece uses contemporary piano music as its inspiration and I liked the mood and depth these composers captured through this single instrument. The piece has a set of 8 white boxes representing the white keys on the piano, all various lengths as well as 8 dancers, this number representing the idea of an octave in music. I wanted to explore the percussive side of the piano so that is I why I chose the John Cage piece because it uses a prepared piano and gives nice opposition to the Glass and Armstrong selections. The movement helps take this idea beyond its logical concept and open up channels for emotional reactions and deeper meaning. The sister piece to this is called From Foreign Lands and People (Commissioned by Colorado Ballet, 2005). That work, to classical piano music, has a set of 5 long black boxes, representing the black keys on the piano, 2 long and 3 short indicating their arrangement on a piano. The full picture is that the entire piece From Foreign Lands and People…To Familiar Spaces in Dream could be on a program together giving an insightful look at how this one instrument can be versatile in sound and feeling, both a percussive and string instrument.

What was the creation process like for you and the dancers at Richmond Ballet in regards to the 8 boxes used in the piece?

We designed the boxes and had them made before I got to Richmond so I could start on day one with them in the space. When I create with objects, they are physically used, not just set up in the background. There were 16 objects in the studio that day that I had to make into a piece, 8 dancers and 8 boxes, and I knew it was my job to make them have a purpose and be present on stage.  The challenge is that the boxes are quite heavy, and they don’t reset themselves as I created the choreography. So there was a lot of time spent just dragging them around the space and resetting them so we could try the phrase or idea again. It could have been exhausting, but it was just part of the process that I think both the dancers and I knew we had to do and we became really excited by what we were creating.

In much of your work you incorporate scenic elements and props- what challenges do these elements hold for you as a choreographer?

I became really interested using props and other elements in my work because of the challenges they propose and the way my imagination began to run wild with images. How can I create a piece where the scenic elements add meaning to the overall work and are not merely a trick to falsely excite the audience?

My challenge lies in craft and relating every element that goes into the piece (music, sets, costumes, lighting) to each other. If a prop or set does not add meaning to the piece, I don’t use it. I am really focused on the craft of making dance, the overall painting of the piece. I do not get obsessed with trying to investigate movement or the steps and I don’t find it necessary to focus on movement invention. It has all been done. I am not going to reinvent the arabasque or create a new technique. I create dance where musicality is extremely important, there is a sense of humanity in the movement, the movement feels good on your body and that the audience, no matter their experience with dance, is part of the end result.

Your husband, Kanji Segawa, electrified our audience last year with his stunning solo of Robert Battle’s piece “Takademe.”  How do you balance your busy work schedules with time together?


photo by Todd Rosenberg

He is amazing in “Takademe”!! And I am not saying that because I am married to him!! I am so happy he was able to share his performance of this piece in particular with your audience because it is really a great experience when the right artist meets the right piece of choreography. It is just magic! Unfortunately, I missed it. I was creating a new work on Cincinnati Ballet and I just could not get away. We are always busy and since we met 10 years ago we have had a schedule like this. As freelance artists, you take work when you get work and you are just so grateful for it! We are quite used to the time apart, and although the good-byes are hard, we both are so happy for each other that we are able to do what we love and what we have trained our whole lives for. Neither of us would take away the opportunities so that we could be together. We travel with each other when our schedules permit and we cherish our time together. For example, Kanji just came with me for the first 2 weeks while I was at Joffrey and came everyday to help me in the studio. We have fun working together. We try not to go more that a month without a visit. And when we come home from tours, we have that excitement to share what we did and what we accomplished. We have such an understanding of what our lives are with careers in dance that this is just perfectly natural for us.

…and on that note, what does Jessica Lang’s calendar look like for this upcoming year?

I have been in Chicago since July 26th working with Joffrey Ballet on a premiere and I don’t settle home again until November 15th. This is one of my longest stretches I have ever had that I go from job to job directly. Immediately after the festival performance I will travel with Richmond Ballet to create my 5th premiere on the company. I will go back to NYC for 3 days to teach a new course on choreography for the NYU/ ABT program before Kanji and I travel to Texas Christian University where I will set one of my works and he will set one of Robert Battles’ pieces. After this I will go to Kansas City Ballet to create a premiere and simultaneously set one of my works on the company in a month, then I am off to a residency at Goucher College to set a work and teach, then back to Richmond to premiere the new work, and finish up this trip with a new creation on the University of Richmond. I can’t believe when I go home it will be the end of fall and almost Thanksgiving! And that is just the travel itinerary for this year. But like I said I am grateful to be working, and even more so because I love what I do! And I can’t forget that I will be back in Chicago in April 2010 to premiere my Joffrey piece!


To Familiar Spaces in Dream will be performed by the Richmond Ballet on August 18th as part of “New Voices” - one of the “all free” performance events of the Chicago Dancing Festival.

It’s a small world after all… Part 2

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Photo by Lois Greenfield

Let’s take a look at Craig Hall who, like Jonathan Alsberry, studied at the Chicago Academy for the Arts. Originally from Maywood, IL, he’s now a soloist with New York City Ballet and will be performing with NYCB principal dancer Wendy Whelan at the Festival this year. Look for them at the Modern Masters program on August 20 at the Harris Theater where they will be performing a pas deux from Christopher Wheeldon‘s “Liturgy”. Chicago audiences might be familiar with Wheeldon’s work as his “Carousel (A Dance)” was performed by the Joffrey Ballet for their Spring season earlier this year.

Check out this awesome article about Craig Hall to learn a little more about his start as a dancer – as well as interesting tidbit involving “Age of Innocence” choreographer Edwaard Liang‘s hairdryer The Joffrey will perform Liang’s work, first premiered by the company last Fall, at the New Voices program on August 18.

Jessica Lang, whose “To Familiar Spaces in Dream” will be performed at New Voices by Richmond Ballet, follows suit with her homonym contemporary Ed Liang (and Ed’s NCYB compatriot Chris Wheeldon) — Lang is set to create a work on the Joffrey Ballet for their upcoming season.

Did you get all that?
Here’s the Cliff Notes version (don’t worry, you won’t be tested on any of this):

Craig Hall and Jonathan Alsberry – Chicago Academy for the Arts
Craig and Ed Liang, Wendy Whelan and Christopher Wheeldon – New York City Ballet
Ed Liang, Chris Wheeldon and Jessica Lang – Joffrey Ballet
Jonathan Alsberry – Luna Negra, Lar Lubovitch Dance Company and Aszure Barton & Artists
Aszure Barton – Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

And that’s just a quick look! To find out more about the dancers and the ties that bind them, meet them in person following each performance. Our hotel sponsor, the Palmer House Hilton, is helping us put together a series of fantastic parties to celebrate the festival events. We’ll see you there after the shows!