A spotlight on the Chicago Dancing Festival

Whether you have a budding Angelina Ballerina in your household or simply know a kid who uses every muscle group to get from Point A to Point B, the Chicago Dancing Festival will inspire your whole family. With the mission statement of increasing accessibility to the arts for Chicagoans, this free week of dance performances, now in its 9th year, is co-produced by renowned choreographer Lar Lubovitch and famed Chicago dancer Jay Franke. Missed out on the first part of this week? No worries- the nation’s largest dancing festival of its kind wraps up this weekend with a jam-packed lineup of venues and talents.

My daughters and I attended the Modern Women program at the Museum of Contemporary Art this past Wednesday and it was a stunner. Any performance that keeps an up-past-her-bedtime 3-year-old rapt and thrilled is a unicorn of a situation, in and of itself. That said, I was enamored as well.

The program, a celebration of female superstars of dance, featured dancers from The Isadora Duncan Dance Company (staged by Lori Belilove), the Martha Graham Dance Company, the Kate Weare Dance Company, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Pam Tanowitz Dance. My daughters loved it all, from the flow-ily reimagined take on Duncan’s Verse Brilliante and the stark and powerful Deep Song (originally performed by Graham in 1937), to the kinetic power of Kate Weare’s Unstuck and the joy of Heaven on One’s Head (Pam Tanowitz). But if we were hard-pressed to choose a favorite, it would be the body-isolating mastery of Jesse Bechard’s dancing in A Picture of You Falling (Hubbard Street Dance, choreography by Crystal Pite).

A special, one night only gala benefit will take place on Friday evening, Aug. 28, at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Honoring festival founder and Artistic Director Lar Lubovitch, the $300 ticket includes pre-show cocktails and performances by the American Ballet Theatre, Brian Brooks Moving Company, Miami City Ballet and the Joffrey Ballet.

Shut out of that phenomenal gala? You’re still in luck; a closing night Dancing Under the Stars performance at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park will take place on Saturday, Aug. 29. No tickets are needed, but seating – including the lawn – is available on a first come, first served basis. (The program will also be projected onto a screen for lawn patrons.)

Go because you’ll get to see new works from incredible choreographers such as Twyla Tharp.

Go because, as a Chicagoan, enjoying free access to the arts year ‘round is what sets us apart from other towns.

And go because, as my 5-year-old told me during the Modern Women program, “It’s just so beautiful.”

For more information and a full event listing, visit www.chicagodancingfestival.com.

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