It is difficult to believe, but this summer will mark the 10th anniversary of the Chicago Dancing Festival, set to run Aug. 23-27.
It all began as something of an inspired experiment, with a free, one-night-only event at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park on Aug. 22, 2007 attended by 8,500 people. Buoyed by the turnout, its co-founders – the Chicago-bred, internationally known choreographer Lar Lubovitch, and Chicago dancer Jay Franke – along with their sponsors, understood they were on to something. And gradually, they proceeded to turn the Festival into what is now a week-long rite of summer with performances in multiple downtown venues.
During the course of its existence, the Festival has presented more than 100 dance companies from Chicago and cities throughout the country, though sadly, precious few from abroad. It has commissioned eight new works, and performed before more than 90,000 people at such venues as the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, the Auditorium Theatre and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Most crucially, it continues to serve as strong evidence that concert dance (ballet, modern and beyond) can attract a vast audience, particularly when free admission makes it possible for the widest possible audience to attend.
The 10th anniversary edition of the project will feature the Festival debut of the Pennsylvania Ballet (under the artistic directorship of Angel Corella, a longtime star of American Ballet Theatre), as well as a first-ever “Modern Men” program featuring all male dancers in works by Joshua Beamish, founder of MOVE: the company; Bessie Award-winning dancers Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener; and choreographer-in- residence at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Brian Brooks.
In addition, there will be audience favorites and original commissions from Chicago Dancing Festival’s history, with performances of works by George Balanchine, Alexander Ekman, William Forsythe, Christopher Wheeldon, Crystal Pite, Aszure Barton + Artists, and Lubovitch, plus performances by Stars of American Ballet, the Martha Graham Dance Company, Rennie Harris Pure Movement, the Joffrey Ballet and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.
Details for the 2016 Festival, including repertoire, will be announced soon. But here is the lineup to date:
+ Aug. 23, 2016 at 7 p.m. at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 East Congress: “Opening Night Celebration” with Stars of American Ballet, Martha Graham Dance Company, Pennsylvania Ballet and the Joffrey Ballet.
+ Aug. 24 at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 East Chicago: “Modern Men” with Aszure Barton + Artists; Brian Brooks; Joshua Bramish; Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Reiner, and Rennie Harris Pure Movement.
+ Aug. 25 at 7:30 p.m. at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph: Aszure Barton + Artists; Martha Graham Dance Company; Hubbard Street Dance Chicago; the Joffrey Ballet, and Rennie Harris Pure Movement.
+ Aug. 27 – 7:30 p.m. at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph: “Dancing Under the Stars” withHubbard Street Dance Chicago, the Joffrey Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, guest artists of The Royal Ballet, and Rennie Harris Pure Movement.
NOTE: All events are free, and seating is general admission. However, tickets for indoor events are required. and must be reserved in advance. Tickets for the Aug. 23 program at the Auditorium Theatre will be released on July 21. Tickets for the Aug. 24 programs at the Museum of Contemporary Art will be released on July 20. Tickets to the August 25 program at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance will be released on July 19. There is a two ticket per order limit for all venues.
No tickets are required for the “Dancing Under the Stars,” the closing night performanceat Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park on Aug. 27. Fixed seating at the Pavilion is available on a first-come-first-served basis, in addition to lawn seating. The “Dancing Under the Stars” program also will be projected on a video screen visibleto lawn patrons.
Information about how to reserve Chicago Dancing Festival tickets is to be announced. For the most up-to-date ticketing details, visit http://www.chicagodancingfestival.com.