CDF11 Wrap Up

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet in "Uneven". Photo by Cheryl Mann.

Last week was quite a week for dance in Chicago.  The Chicago Dancing Festival (CDF) presented five free nights of dance to eager audiences with an estimated 19,000 in attendance over the course of the week.  Many thanks and much gratitude to the CDF staff – Evin Eubanks (Executive Director), Todd Clark (Director of Production), Natalie Williams (Admin Assistant) and of course co-founders/Artistic Directors Lar Lubovitch and Jay Franke for showcasing such phenomenal talent and giving the city another chance to shine.  Mayor Emanuel attending three nights of dance has secured his place as dance in Chicago’s biggest fan.  I was lucky to be able to attend each night of the fest (I missed the free dance movies day) and I have to admit I was a little disappointed this Monday night when there wasn’t a kick ass show to go see.  Spoiled, but grateful.

Here are links to my coverage of the CDF events:  Opening Night Gala, Moderns, MCA Moves, Masters, Muses and Celebration of Dance.  Some of the highlights for me were Richard Move, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (Too Beaucoup, Petite Mort), Lar Lubovitch Dance Company (The Legend of Ten), Paul Taylor Dance Company (Eplanade) and New York City Ballet artists Tiler Peck and Gonzalo Garcia (Tchaikovsky Pas De Deux).  I was surprised how much I enjoyed the Martha Graham Dance Company, Doug Varone and Dancers and Walter Dundervill’s work.  I can’t wait to see who CDF will bring in to perform next year.  Plan ahead: you won’t want to miss CDF2012!

Let me know what you think!  Did you go to any of the CDF shows?  What was your favorite?  Are you now a fan of a company you’d never seen before?  What would you like them to do differently next year?  What companies would you like to see at CDF 2012?

CDF11 MCA Moves

Richard Move as Martha Graham. Photo by Josef Astor.

Foreshadowing the evening to come, the title of the Chicago Dancing Festival‘s second consecutive free night of dance, MCA Moves, proved to be right.  The night was Move’s.  Richard Move, Artistic Director of Moveopolis!, TEDGlobal 2011 Oxford Fellow and impersonator of the iconic Martha Graham, hosted the program as Graham.  With costume changes, quips and quotes, he offered insights littered with history into her persona by becoming – in spirit, cadence and mannerisms – Martha. Joined by two young dancers (Deborah Goodman and Sandra Kaufman), he/she led a class Graham technique mini-class (“contract, release, repose”) and later performed his solo Lamentation Variation, an homage to Graham’s version commissioned by her company in 2007.  Quite frankly, he stole the show. (Honestly, any show that starts with a dude in drag as emcee – I’m in!)

There were two shows this evening at 6pm and 8pm.  I attended the second showing.  Two pieces from Monday night’s opening gala performance were on the program – Shaker Interior from Snow on the Mesa (1995) by artist from Martha Graham Dance Company and Brian Brooks Moving Company‘s duet from MOTOR (2010).  One I liked more the second time around and the other less.  The precision athleticism of MOTOR that enthralled on Monday wasn’t there.  The men were out of sync and looked tired.  Perhaps, two shows back-to-back for this number was too much.  Shaker Interior, by contrast, seemed more subtle and fragile this time.  The female dancer (Xiaochuan Xie) performed the piece topless, which made more sense contextually than the white leotard she wore on Monday.  There is a moment when she is kneeling on the floor with the man (Tadej Brdnik) sitting on a bench next to her and she slowly lifts her hand up so the back of it lightly touches his back and he moves ever so slightly in acknowledgement…it’s breathtaking.

Lucky Plush Productions piece Habituation (2010) incorporated everyday gestures and humor to deliver a clever dance about how they make dances. Faye Driscoll‘s If you pretend you are drowning I’ll pretend I am saving you is an excerpt of a work-in-progess not…not (2011).  More performance art than technical dancing, she and Jesse Zaritt tackle the strange and sometimes awkward developments in a male/female relationship.  Using their breath as music and a triangle of hot pink duct tape (did anyone else think this was a sexual reference?) as the stage parameters, they flirted, climbed, humped, bumped and writhed through their quirky attempt at a sexual bond.  Sometimes funny, sometimes wtf?  I’m not sure about this one.  I’d like to see it again in the context of the entire work.

CDF Tix Info & New Blogger Initiative

Richard Move as Martha Graham. Photo by Josef Astor.

The Chicago Dancing Festival (CDF) is taking it up a notch!  This year, celebrating its 5th anniversary, the fest not only expands to five days of free dance events, but they’ve added a blogger outreach program and Foursquare initiative (more info to come) to get the word out.  RB is proud and excited to be a part of this new blogger program!  Check out the CDF widget on the upper right side of this blog page.  This icon (click on it!) will take you directly to the CDF blog that talks about the new initiative and introduces you to the other bloggers involved.  (A big thanks to Rachel and Tom at Astek for all of their help with this!)

For my part, I will be focusing on the dance/performance angle with previews, interviews with dancers and choreographers, behind-the-scenes tidbits and rehearsal viewings.  I’m particularly excited to talk with Richard Move, a multi-talented artist who has won awards for his portrayal of Martha Graham.  Move will be hosting the MCA Moves program on Wednesday, August 24th.  “It’s quite a coup for us to have him this summer,” says CDF co-founder Jay Franke.  “Especially for us forging into this new territory for the festival with kind of more avant garde work, we thought it was really important  to have him because he’s kind of the glue that keeps it all together and will be able to narrate it for the audience.  He’s basically narrating the evening.  The way we’re setting it up is almost a vaudeville style.  The beginning he will be giving kind of a tutorial on the Graham technique, then the various performances he will introduce  and he finishes by doing his version of Lamentation.  He’s brilliant.”  I can’t wait to hear how his obsession with Martha began.

To see Move and the other artists performing throughout the festival, first, you have to get tickets.  Tickets for all venues are general admission and limited to two (2) tickets per order.  Yes, they are FREE!, but it will take fortitude and a bit of luck to get them.  Here’s how:

Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) tickets – this includes the MCA Moves (Aug 24) and Moderns program (Aug 26) – to be released (while available) at 10:00 am on Tuesday, July 19th.  You can get them in person at the MCA Box Office (220 E Chicago Ave), by calling 312.397.4010 or going to  You are limited to two tickers per order and any unclaimed tickets will be released 15 minutes before curtain time for the wait list, which begins one-hour before the performance.  (*You must be in line, in person.)  All tickets to be held at Will Call.

Harris Theater tickets for the Moderns programs (Aug 23 & 24) to be released on Wednesday, July 20 at noon at the theater box office (205 E. Randolph) or by phone at 312.334.7777.

Auditorium Theatre tickets  for the Masters program (Aug 25) will be released Thursday, July 21st at 11:00 am and will be available at the theater box office (50 E Congress), at 1.800.982.ARTS or by visiting this Ticketmaster web page.

Tickets for the Movies program (Aug 26) and the festival finale Celebration of Dance performance at Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park are first-come, first-serve with no tickets required.  Past seasons have “sold out” extremely fast.  Good Luck!