Chicago Dancing Festival announces 2011 lineup

  • Photograph: Todd Rosenberg

    Ballet West dancers in rehearsal for Serenade at the Pritzker Pavilion, 2010

  • Photograph: Rosalie O�Connor

    Aspen Santa Fe Ballet in Uneven

  • Photograph: Todd Rosenberg

    Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in Too Beaucoup

  • Photograph: Luke Isley

    Annie Breneman and Katherine Lawrence of Ballet West in Sinfonietta

  • Photograph: Costas

    Xiaochuan Xie and Tadej Brdnik of the Martha Graham Dance Company in Snow on the Mesa

Photograph: Todd Rosenberg

Ballet West dancers in rehearsal for Serenade at the Pritzker Pavilion, 2010

Going all-in for its fifth year, the Chicago Dancing Festival will produce five days of shows and an all-day film fest for 2011, and adds the Auditorium Theatre and Chicago Cultural Center to its stable of venues. As always, all events will be free and open to the public.

“What we do is a gift to the city of Chicago,” festival executive director Evin Nicole Eubanks told me by phone. And what a gift it is—let us count the ways:

Tuesday, August 23

  • 7:30pm at the Harris Theater: MODERNS

New York’s Doug Varone & Dancers perform 2006 octet Lux, called “one of Varone’s very best works” by Pittsburgh critic Steve Sucato. Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, [node:14750045 link=appearing tonight at the same venue;], brings Cayetano Soto’s Uneven and rising choreographer Adam Barruch dances a characteristically zippy solo of his, The Worst Pies in London. Hometown heavyweights Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and [node:74295 link=River North Dance Chicago;] perform [node:7553373 link=work by Sharon Eyal;] and Charles Moulton, respectively. Moulton’s credits range from a career with Merce Cunningham’s company to choreography for 1,000 bodies for The Matrix Reloaded.

Wednesday, August 24

  • Noon at the Harris Theater: Eat to the Beat: MODERNS

The Harris’s lunchtime short-performance series joins forces with the festival to kick off its third season. This show features highlights from the above program, less Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.

  • 6pm and 8pm at the Museum of Contemporary Art: MCA MOVES

Richard Move’s impersonation of Martha Graham, while hilarious, is less a jokey drag act than it is a loving homage. The character will host a showcase of “independent, avant-garde and up-and-coming dance artists,” preceded by a special, site-specific performance outdoors by Eiko & Koma, [node:14769357 link=whose retrospective will be on display at the museum;].

Thursday, August 25

  • 7:30pm at the Auditorium Theatre: MASTERS

Hubbard Street’s production of Petite Mort, one of Jiří Kylián’s most accessible and enjoyable dances, joins The Legend of Ten by festival cofounder Lar Lubovitch, performed by his fine New York company. The Martha Graham Dance Company presents Embattled Garden, the real Graham’s 1958 work to music by Carlos Surinach, with designs by sculptor Isamu Noguchi.

Friday, August 26

  • 10am–6pm at the Chicago Cultural Center’s Claudia Cassidy Theater: MOVIES

In a festival first, four films featuring dance will be shown back-to-back. Invitation to the Dance kicks it off, the 1956 triptych starring (and directed by) Gene Kelly, featuring stage stars of the era such as Tamara Toumanova and Igor Youskevitch. Peter Glushanok’s 1957 documentary about Martha Graham, A Dancer’s World, and Matthew Diamond’s 1998 portrait of the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Dancemaker, follow. Tying it off with satin ribbons is the classic The Red Shoes (1948).

  • 6pm at the Museum of Contemporary Art: MUSES

Historian and writer Lucia Mauro hosts a discussion about the relationship between choreographers and dancers, with live performances providing points of reference. Mauro’s guests are Alejandro Cerrudo, resident choreographer at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago; Lar Lubovitch, festival cofounder and director of the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company; and Janet Eilber, artistic director of the Martha Graham Dance Company.

Saturday, August 27

  • 7:30pm at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park: CELEBRATION OF DANCE

Per festival tradition, the grand finale takes place at the Pritzker, where it all started on August 22, 2007. Program:

Joffrey Ballet, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, created by George Balanchine in 1972
Ballet West
, Sinfonietta, [node:14762443 link=Jiří Kylián;]’s 1978 breakthrough work to Leos Janáček
Martha Graham Dance Company
, Diversion of Angels, from 1948 to music by Norman Dello Joio
Paul Taylor Dance Company
, Esplanade, one of Taylor’s masterworks, set to Bach
New York City Ballet
’s Gonzalo Garcia and Tiler Peck in Balanchine’s Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux
River North Dance Chicago
, 9-Person Precision Ball Passing, an encore of Moulton’s dance from the MODERNS program

For CELEBRATION OF DANCE and MOVIES, simply show up (plenty early) and enjoy. All other programs will require free tickets, made available the week of July 18, staggered in release so that fans can pick up tickets to one show and not worry about missing the boat on another. (Last year’s festival, which drew an estimated 12,000 people, “sold out” in two hours.)

In case you couldn’t guess, a week of this quality and scale is massively expensive to produce; at 6pm on Monday, August 22, there will be an opening night gala at the MCA to raise funds. For $250, you can help keep the festival going, mingle with the artists, enjoy a cocktail reception, and see performances by the Joffrey, Hubbard Street, the Graham company, choreography by TOC fave Faye Driscoll (NYC) and a special commission by Walter Dundervill. Call 312-520-2210 or e-mail to make a reservation.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)