Move over New York, you’ve got some serious competition. On opening night of its sixth festival of the 2012 Chicago Dancing Festival, the evening featured Chicago dance companies. Mayor Rahm Emmanuel kicked off the 2012 Chicago Dancing Festival declaring it was the largest free dancing festival in U.S. Amateur and professional, young and mature, the evening showcased the many dancing sides of Chicago’s most talented. It was a breakout night that gave the audience a dose of the unexpected, including a surprise appearance from Benny the Bull, the Chicago Bulls mascot.
Opening with a new choreographed work by Nicholas Leichter, Touch of Soul, dedicated to the late Maggie Daley, the kids from After School Matters hip hopped their way into the hearts of the audience. The dance consisted of two parts choreographed to music written by Estelle and Manu Dibango. The first section wasn’t too out of the ordinary with movements resembling what you would see in a typical hip hop dance. The second part had more of a tribal feel with the music rooted in African rhythms.
Hubbard Street Dance followed with the quick paced Scarlatti. Choreographed to the keyboard music of baroque composer Domenico Scarlatti, the choreography began with more classical dance motions, but was structured in such a manner that it morphed into a more contemporary movement. Much os Scarlatti’s keyboard music is structured into two sections (A and B) with each section repeated. Set to seven sonatas and ending with a fugue, work was eloquently performed. However, the repetitive nature the music didn’t restrict the choreography.
Two Become Three was an entertaining dance set to a combination of music and narrative. Performed Giordano Dance Chicago, the choreography told the story of how a relationship progresses between men and women. As the title implies, “magic” happens between the couple leads to third being. Hearing the narrative with movements to compliments the story was hilarious.
After a brief intermission, the Chicago Joffrey Ballet performed the modern classic, In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated. Originally choreographed by William Forsythe and set to the music of Willem Thom, the dance felt like an impressionistic piece. The music was minimalistic in nature which sounded mechanical. The music seemed to imitate sounds from a factory, which made for some interesting choreography. On top of the grinding, the rhythmic booms set the stage from interesting choreography. Although modern, the dance itself was firmly rooted in classical ballet.
The evening concluded with Bolero Chicago. The dance was choreographed by Keigwin and Company, but the dancers were comprised of Chicagoans. Dogs (yes, really), kids, young adults and mature adults all contributed. Set to Bolero by Maurice Ravel, choreography explored life in the Windy City. In true Chicago style, participants wore Cubs, Bulls, White Sox and Bears sports garb. And as I mentioned early on, Benny, the Chicago Bulls Mascot, participated in the dance. Visiting a park, riding a train, getting blown around by the infamous winds of Chicago, and sports were all wrapped into about 18 minutes of sheer delight.
Walking away from the festival I couldn’t help by think how lucky this city is to have so many great dance companies.