10th Anniversary Chicago Dancing Festival Comes to a Close

Martha Graham Dance Company in ͞Appalachian Spring” at Chicago Dancing Festival’s Opening Night Celebration at Auditorium Theatre.
Martha Graham Dance Company in ͞Appalachian Spring” at Chicago Dancing Festival’s Opening Night Celebration at Auditorium Theatre.

The 10th Anniversary Chicago Dancing Festival came to a close Saturday night after a week of stellar dance performances. The festival—the largest of its kind in the country—features free dance performances highlighting some of the best companies across the country.

Chicago Dancing Festival got off to a dynamic start with a night full of grace, power, strong movement and beautiful choreography and performance August 23.

Tuesday’s opening night featured The Pennsylvania Ballet, the Martha Graham Dance Company, Stars of American Ballet, and the Joffrey Ballet Company.

The evening began with The Pennsylvania Ballet in their debut appearance at Chicago Dancing Festival. The group performed a classical, three-part, George Balanchine piece, Concerto Barocco.

The piece alternated between active, quick-paced choreography and calm, ethereal movement. The opening section felt light hearted, with occasional large motions breaking through the pristinely synchronized, repetitive small and deliberate steps of the dancers.

The second section introduced more classic motifs of arabesques and port de bras, and many dancers moving in time with the same small, identical balletic motions. Beautiful partnering was introduced, creating a delicate and delightful tableau.

The final section returned to the upbeat, action-packed choreography, for an exceedingly enjoyable and fun viewing experience.

The night continued with the Martha Graham Dance Company’s Appalachian Spring, telling the story of pioneers in a new land.

The piece was a like a picture storybook brought to life. The music was big and emotive, the dancing full of joy like a celebration. The dancing was artful, graceful, playful and strong.

Stars of American Ballet were next to grace the stage. They similarly selected a Balanchine work for their performance, highlighting the depth of talent found in American ballet with Who Cares.

Opening night closed out with a captivating performance by The Joffrey Ballet, performing Alexander Ekman’s Episode 31.

The week continued with many firsts for the festival. On Wednesday, August 24, Chicago Dancing Festival presented its first program devoted to an all male cast. The evening featured five performances and three Chicago debuts. Aszure Barton + Artists, Brian Brooks, Joshua Beamish, Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener, and Rennie Harris Pure Movement graced the Museum of Contemporary Art stage during Modern Men.

 Aszure Barton + Artists, Martha Graham Dance Company, Rennie Harris Pure Movement and The Joffrey Ballet again joined the festival, this time accompanied by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, for Thursday night’s Dancing at the Harris.

Friday, August 26 brought another first to Chicago Dancing Festival. Planet Chicago brought the festival to Navy Pier for the first time, featuring all Chicago-based ensembles and companies. The evening showcased performances by Forward Momentum Chicago, Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago, Natya Dance Theatre, Chicago Human Rhythm Project, and Gingarte Capoeira.

The festival culminated in the final show Saturday, August 27 at Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.

Miriam Finder Annenberg
Miriam Finder Annenberg
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