Why Pivot Arts Festival is redefining Chicago’s art scene

If the words “arts festival” makes you think of dull painters droning endlessly about perspective and shading, think again. Or at least visit the Pivot Arts Festival, which is sure to make you rethink your been-there-done-that stance on festivals o’ art.

The third annual Pivot Arts Festival is organized by Pivot Arts, those mavens of bringing together communities and the multidisciplinary artists who live in them. The annual festival showcases the best of the best for all ages, featuring live music, theater, dance, puppetry, workshops, wine tastings and family fun.

Back in 2013, the event showcased a plethora of powerhouse acts such as Mucca Pazza, a 28-piece punk rock marching band, and Theater Oobleck, the epitome of renegade theater. Shows largely took place in historical buildings converted by Pivot Arts into funky performance venues.

Last year, the angle was “Art Meets Science,” and multiple shows were curated around scientific themes, including a house music dance party and a breathtaking dance piece by Akayo Kato.

Taking place in the culturally diverse and architecturally beautiful areas of Uptown and Edgewater, 2015’s festival is called “Celebrate Community,” and it promises an inclusive, vibrant merging of everything the far north side of Chicago has to offer.

Kids in tow? They’ll have a ball watching—and perhaps even taking part in—performances by CircEsteem, a company that unites kids from all economic and cultural backgrounds and builds life skills through the practice of circus arts, and Storytown Improv, a troupe that creates improvised theater with children, from the very first sentence to the very last musical note. Other featured performances are by Lifeline Theatre, Merry Music Makers, Swift School and many others.

The slightly taller set will enjoy all manner of artistic endeavors with work from BAATHHAUS, Lizi Breit, Bri-Ko, Pamela Chermansky, Edgewater Workbench, Dean Evans, Ayako Kato, Daniel Kerr-Hobert, Lucky Plush Productions, Jessie Marasa, RE Dance, Tsukasa Taiko and Vanessa Valliere.

Like your theater avant garde, experimental and cool as heck? You’re in luck: The Neo-Futurists will be performing. And if your life’s lacking a comedian with a touch of performing arts (and the occasional circus-inspired entity known as “Honeybuns”), you’ll have your chance to experience Chicago’s Dean Evans, too.

The 10-day shindig will have a number of venues, most notably Loyola University’s Mundelein Center for the Arts, Granville Avenue, Loyola University’s St. Ignatius Community Plaza, the Uptown Underground and, especially if you need to get your eat on, Francesca’s Bryn Mawr and Lickity Split Custard and Sweet Shop.

New this year: a community parade at 1 p.m. May 30 will kick off at Granville near Kenmore, culminating with performances at Loyola University’s St. Ignatius Plaza, including puppets created by Swift School students. After all, what brings a neighborhood together like a parade?

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