Heart and Soul of Chicago Dance





August rallies the Chicago dance community in two of the year’s most inspiring cultural events: “Dance For Life” and “The Chicago Dancing Festival,” each one a stunning effort of its founders, Chicago-born dance artists with vision, purpose, and dedication that overflows with heart, soul, and some of the best choreography and dancing on the continent.

The first, DANCE FOR LIFE (7:30 PM, August 20th, The Auditorium Theatre), is a magnificent tribute to the strength and spirit of Chicago Dance. Originally begun twenty-five years ago by dancer Keith Elliott and Todd Keich as a means for Chicago dancers to take care of their own by dancing to raise funds for the care and treatment of fellow dancers suffering from the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Dance for Life uses the art of dance to make a difference in people’s lives.

This event continues today and in response to the changing needs of Chicago’s dance community, evolutions in the nature of HIV/AIDS, the growth of the annual event and its other programs, DFL has matured into a nonprofit organization, Chicago Dancers United (CDU).

Continuing with its core concept of the dance community in Chicago taking care of its own, CDU mobilizes Chicago’s dance community to support organizations and dance community professionals dealing with critical health issues, including, but not limited to HIV/AIDS, through the art of dance.

Over the past 25 years, 33 Chicago-based, professional dance companies and numerous choreographers have been presented at DFL, supporting and showcasing the city’s unique diversity of talent, dance traditions and styles. Partner dance companies of DFL include Giordano Dance Chicago, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and the Joffrey Ballet and, each year, dancers from these ensembles and throughout the city come together with choreographer Randy Duncan to collaborate on a world premiere specifically created for the event. Each DFL event also features two additional dance companies from Chicago, selected through an adjudication process and providing even broader participation in DFL, and even greater diversity onstage. DFL remains the only annual opportunity for the incredibly talented, renowned professional dancers of Chicago unite artistically to help those affected by HIV/AIDS as well as, through The Dancers’ Fund, those in need within the local dance community itself. The dancers, companies and choreographers involved generously donate their time, energy and artistry to the cause.

As a unified dance community in Chicago, Chicago Dancers United utilizes the art of dance to support a stronger and healthier community by focusing on its health and well-being. They do this through The Dancers’ Fund, Dance for Life Chicago and The Awareness Initiative.”

Dance For Life is a one-night-only celebration of some of the best Chicago dance has to offer. This year’s 25th anniversary program includes GIORDANO DANCE CHICAGO, HUBBARD STREET DANCE CHICAGO, JOFFREY BALLET, CHICAGO DANCE CRASH, and VISCERAL DANCE CHICAGO, with world premieres by Randy Duncan and Harrison McEldowney. Emcees will be Carisa Barreca and Tim Mason of The Second City.


THE CHICAGO DANCING FESTIVAL launches its 10th season of free dance performances with a unique line-up of performances featuring top dance artists and companies. The Chicago Dancing Festival kicks off its 10th Anniversary with the much anticipated return to Chicago's Landmark Stage, the Auditorium Theatre.Chicago Dancing Festival

Founded ten years ago by former Chicago dancers Jay Frank and Lar Lubovich,  The Chicago Dancing Festival runs August 23-27 at various Chicago venues. Their goal was to expand the audience for dance in Chicago by exposing audiences to outstanding choreography and dance companies from Chicago and across the country and offering them at major performance venues free of charge. 

Opening night, Tuesday, August 23 – 7:00 p.m. at the Auditorium Theatre, presents Stars of American Ballet in Who Cares by George Balanchine; The Martha Graham Dance Company in Appalachian Spring by Martha Graham; The Pennsylvania Ballet in Concerto Barocco by George Balanchine; and The Joffrey Ballet in Episode 31 by Alexander Ekman. 

The second program, “Modern Men,” (6 and 8 PM, Wednesday, August 24th, Museum of Contemporary Art) features  Aszure Barton + Artists in Awáa - trio section; Brian Brooks in solo excerpts from Some of a Thousand Words; Wendy Whelan and Brian Brooks; Joshua Beamish in Concerto by Joshua Beamish: Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener in Desire Liar by Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener; and Rennie Harris Pure Movement in Students of the Asphalt Jungle by Dr. Lorenzo (Rennie) Harris.

Program number three, “Dancing at the Harris” (Thursday, August 25 –7:30 p.m., Harris Theater for Music and Dance), presents Aszure Barton + Artists, Awáa - trio section; The Martha Graham Dance Company in Diversion of Angels by Martha Graham; Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in Solo Echo by Crystal Pite; The Joffrey Ballet in Othello duet by Lar Lubovitch; and Rennie Harris Pure Movement, Students of the Asphalt Jungle by Dr. Lorenzo (Rennie) Harris.

As part of its 10th year celebration, the Chicago Dancing Festival will be presented, for the first time, at Navy Pier on Friday, August 26, 2016 at 5:30PM. In a world-themed dance program titled Planet Chicago, this presentation will feature Chicago-based dance companies including a Festival debut by Forward Momentum Chicago plus the popular returns of Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago and Natya Dance Theatre. This presentation also celebrates the 100th Anniversary of Navy Pier and is part of its cultural and community programming, which is supported by the Polk Bros. Foundation.

The fifth and final program of the Festival, “Dancing Under the Stars” (Saturday, August 27th, 7:30 p.m., Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park) features Chicago Dancers United in a new work created for Dance For Life by Randy Duncan; Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in One Flat Thing by William Forsythe; The Joffrey Ballet in After the Rain by Christopher Wheeldon; The Pennsylvania Ballet in Concerto Barocco by George Balanchine; Guest Artists of The Royal Ballet in the pas de deux from Romeo & Juliet by Kenneth MacMillan; and Rennie Harris Pure Movement, Students of the Asphalt Jungle by Dr. Lorenzo (Rennie) Harris.





Inside/Out with Monique Haley & Miles Davis (August 5th, Stage 773) offers audiences a last chance to go inside "Corner Sketches: A Tribute to Miles Davis" while it's a work in progress. Choreographer Monique Haley and Music Director Stu Greenspan will give you a final peek at this exciting work-in-progress and you'll be invited to discuss and interact with the piece and the artists, including trumpeter Pharez Whitted. This event is part of CRDT Inside/Out 2016 – a seven-month creative and audience engagement journey which culminates in the Fall Concert Series. You are invited Inside the company and its artistic process while the company gets Out of the studio to share work in progress and to be fueled by Chicagoans all over the city.Inside/Out with Monique Haley and Miles Davis


THE ADVENTURES OF TAPMAN ( 2 PM, August 6th, Stage 773) follows Tapman, Chicago's premiere tap dancing superhero, through various episodes as he battles his arch nemesis, The MADD Tapper. Along the way, Tapman joins forces with The Modern Marvel, a crime-fighting modern dancer, in his quest to defeat The MADD Tapper. The Adventures of Tapman features light-hearted, 60s-era comic book humor, elaborate projected special effects, and phenomenal tap dancing including the unique tap dance fighting style, Tap-Fu!



THRUST!  (7 PM, August 19-28, Stage 773) is a one of a kind double feature of tap and modern dance showcasing the work of long-time Tapman collaborators Tristan Bruns (tap) and Kate O’Hanlon (modern) and special guest choreographer Ian Berg (tap). The pieces performed are created specifically for this thrust (three-sided) stage with elaborate props and set design, original music by Trainwreck Symphony and composer Carolyn O’Brien, and new arrangements of popular music.THRUST! Tapman Productions

“This performance is inspired by Ian’s piece I saw last year at the Audible Odyssey showcase.  Ian’s choreography made use of all sides of the stage, effectively eliminating a “front” for the audience,” said Bruns.  “I thought, ‘I rarely see a thrust-style theatre used as is was meant to be used, where each performer and dance is viewed from three different sides at the same time. It is a difficult way to dance, so I must try it, too.”

Performers in THRUST! include Hannah Bailey, Ian Berg, Tristan Bruns, Martin Bronson, Zada Cheeks, Megan Davis, Juan Irizarry, Teresa Leahey, Gloria Mwez, Kate O’Hanlon, Carmen Paquette, Aimee Russon, Von Smith and Jessica Williams.

The production team for THRUST!  includes Bread and Roses Productions and Carolyn O’Brien, composer. 




"FEATHERS: A Tango Journey" (7:30 PM, August 19-21, Ruth Page Center for the Arts) is Tango 21 Dance Theater's third original production. Three women meet by chance at an airport and share stories about love, loss and finding a path home. Tango 21 Dance Theater uses the language of Argentine tango to tell compelling and contemporary stories through live theatrical performances, featuring dancers, actors and musicians. Come with us on our tango journey!



Stage 773’s “Inoffensive Family Series” presents art the WHOLE family will actually like! (2 PM, August 21). Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre fuses music, dance, and visual art to explore and celebrate contemporary American society in a journey through the rich history of American music and dance. You’ll experience the New Orleans style of the early 1900s, the swing and big band phenomena of the ‘30s, bebop from the ‘40s, free and avant-garde jazz from the ‘60s, the jazz/rock fusion of the ‘70s, and influences of Latin, Indian, African, Rock and Soul - AND they'll invite you to boogie with them. Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre’s multi-disciplinary artwork is theatrical and thoughtful, vivacious and exuberant. This exciting show combines dynamic choreography, inspiring music, audience participation and much more, creating a treat for all the senses.


For details and tickets, go to seechicagodance.com and click on “Upcoming Events.”