The 2015 Ruth Page Festival of Dance at Ravinia concludes a summer season that celebrated the milestone birthdays of two central figures in jazz: Frank Sinatra, who would be 100, and 80-year-old Ramsey Lewis. One of Chicago’s leading contemporary dance companies, CDI/Concert Dance Inc., returns for its 12th Season of annual performances as part of the Ruth Page Festival of Dance at Ravinia on September 1 and 2, 2015. Highlighting the performance will be a world premiere dance titled “Fly Me To The Moon”, commissioned by the Ravinia Festival celebrating the Frank Sinatra Centennial, by Emmy Award-nominated choreographer and Artistic Director, Venetia Stifler. The piece will feature the music of Frank Sinatra interwoven with interview sound-bytes. The program will also feature two other Ravinia-commissioned dances, “El Salon” (2010) and “Four Last Songs” (2014) in addition to the audience favorite “Meetings Along The Edge” (2007). Ravinia regularly commissions new works from Concert Dance Inc. and its award-winning choreographer and artistic director, Venetia Stifler, which are premiered and given repeat performances during the company’s annual sellout appearances.
These performances also mark the retirement from dancing of veteran dancer and choreographer, Victor Alexander. Mr Alexander has been with CDI for over 12 years, performing in many of the company's iconic works. Included in Dance Magazine’s prestigious “25 to Watch in 2013” list, Mr. Alexander is known for his riveting stage presence as he mixes formidable technique he gained in the rigorous training ground of Cuban dance schools with facility at theatrical interpretation. Mr Alexander is currently the Director of the Ruth Page School of Dance, having joined the artistic and administrative team of the Ruth Page Center for the Arts in the summer of 2013. As both the Director of the Ruth Page School of Dance and Co-Director of the Ruth Page Civic Ballet, he continues a tradition of exceptional training and mentoring of the next generation of the nation’s best young dancers.
"El Salon" was commissioned in observance of the 20th anniversary of the deaths of Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein, as well as the 200th anniversary of Mexico's independence. Ms Stifler's setting of Copland's wildly infectious El Salón Mexico score is performed in a special two-piano arrangement made by Bernstein and performed live by artists from Northeastern Illinois University's music department, Kay Kim and Susan Tang. Last year's Ravinia commission, "Four Last Songs" is set to the music of Richard Strauss and will also feature live music by Soprano Christina Kaloyanides. "Meetings Along the Edge" has been an audience favorite since its premiere in 2007. With it's multi-layered sound score from Philip Glass and Ravi Shankar, the dance explores the intersection of cultural and personal boundaries.