The national conference for Dance/USA hits Chicago this week with an opening night reception on Wednesday at the Harris Theater. So, I asked some top dance folk what makes Chicago one of the top destinations for dance?
What’s not to love about dance in Chicago? We are growing and developing a stronger international presence by the many versatile dance companies our community supports. I have found that since I first moved to Chicago in 1999 to dance with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, the dance environment has changed so much with the addition of so many new voices. It’s been exciting to watch this grow. ~Jay Franke, co-founder Chicago Dancing Festival
I believe it is the presence and balance of presenting locations, studios and schools, performance opportunities and many genres of dance that take part. ~Shirley Mordine, artistic director Mordine & Co Dance Theater
There’s a strong symbiosis between internal momentum and external recognition, especially in today’s connected age. Chicagoans are increasingly aware of the riches available to them at dance performances, which in turn is increasing those performances’ reach, which in turn elevates Chicago on the global stage. (Mayor) Rahm Emanuel hasn’t been shy about his advocacy for dance, during the election and since taking office on May 16. The Chicago Dancing Festival, which marks its fifth annual just weeks after the conference concludes, has, as a cornerstone of its identity, the idea that dance is an art form that can reach all people, of all backgrounds and circumstances. It plans in the years ahead to bring programming to Chicago’s neighborhoods, including those geographically and/or financially distant from dance’s traditional core demographics. Issues of relevance and accessibility affect all dance artists today, and I think Chicago has, through these and other examples, shown leadership in finding new ways to expand dance’s reach. ~Zachary Whittenburg, dance editor Time Out Chicago
Chicago has a rich variety of dance companies, offering many different dance styles, showcasing specific cultures, performing in so many different types of venues. On any given weekend you can see at least three or four different performances throughout the city. ~Gustavo Ramirez Sansano, artistic director Luna Negra Dance Theater
When the Joffrey came to Chicago in 1995, it found a community with an appetite for ballet and the foundations of a vibrant dance scene. We have participated in and benefited from the growth of dance awareness in the Midwest. If you consider, also, the excellent work of the Chicago Dancing Festival, Hubbard Street, River North, Luna Negra, Giordano, to name a few, you have a network that nurtures a growing interest in the art form. ~Ashley Wheater, artistic director Joffrey Ballet