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Preview: Chicago Dancing Festival

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Ben Wardell and Michel Rodriguez

Ben Wardell and Michel Rodriguez

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The best time to be in the city is, unquestionably, the summer. These are the months that remind us why we endure such brutal winters (aside from sheer Midwest obstinacy): Chicagoans emerge to reacquaint themselves with the lakefront and parks, drinking in free arts and culture presented outdoors every night of the week. And the end of August means free dance performances—lots of them—thanks to the Chicago Dancing Festival. The festival was founded by native-Chicagoan-turned-New-York-choreographer Lar Lubovitch and dancer Jay Franke, to introduce more people to the pleasures of watching dance. The project has been a success; audiences have turned out in droves the last seven years to see companies from here and around the country. This year’s festival includes three nights of performances: Wednesday at the Harris Theater—which will be simulcast to the big LED screen in the Pritzker Pavilion—a program of duets Friday at the MCA, and the grand finale at the Pritzker Saturday night.
The fest has placed an increased emphasis on commissioning new works for Chicago companies; this year three new works will debut, one for each night. On Wednesday, Hubbard Street will perform a commissioned piece by MacArthur genius grant recipient Kyle Abraham. The piece, entitled “Counterpoint,” was originally intended to be a collaboration with Chicago footwork composer DJ Rashad, until he passed away suddenly earlier this year. Abraham now describes the piece as “a work of isolations and abrupt uncertainties…drawing on deviations of circumstance as layered metaphors for things unseen.” On Friday night the Nexus Project, the male duet experiment conceived by Ben Wardell and Michel Rodriguez Cintra, will perform a new work by Ron De Jesus, and on Saturday the young dancers from After School Matters will perform an ensemble piece by Darrell Grand Moultrie. All night’s house gems; embrace the summer, see some dance. (Sharon Hoyer)

Wednesday, August 20 at the Harris Theater, 205 East Randolph and simulcast at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, 7:30pm. Friday, August 22 at the MCA, 6pm and 8pm. Saturday, August 23 at the Pritzker Pavilion, 7:30pm. Free.

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