The City of Chicago is fortunate to have a crowded year-long calendar full of important Dance events, but none is more high-profile or more highly anticipated than Dance For Life. Each August, the Chicago dance community, represented by Chicago Dancers United, packs the city’s Auditorium Theatre to support what Dance For Life has been doing for 26 years — raising money, raising awareness, and raising expectations for how great a dance concert Dance For Life will be next year. It’s August again, and next year is only a few days away, because on Saturday, August 19 at 7:30 eight of Chicago’s premiere Dance Companies will take the Auditorium Theatre stage for the 26th annual Dance For Life.
For a special look ahead, DancerMusic reached out to each of the Partner Dance Companies that perform each year at Dance For Life. Each of them has selected a photo from their performance, and given us some insight into what they will be performing.
Giordano Dance Chicago
Can’t Take This Away
Choreography by Randy Duncan
Photo: Devin Buchanan (Photo: Gorman Cook Photography)
The piece is held dear to my heart and to all of our dancers …
Here’s what Giordano Dance Chicago‘s Artistic Director Nan Giordano tells us about Randy Duncan’s Can’t Take This Away:
Can’t Take This Away was my father’s [founder Gus Giordano] favorite piece in our repertoire; in fact, when he first saw the piece at Dance For Life in the early 1990s, he instantly said we needed to acquire the piece for our company. I spoke with Randy Duncan, the choreographer, and we decided that he would add another section to the piece. Around the same time that Randy was setting the work and creating a new section, my mom passed away in March of 1993. When we had the first showing of the piece, Randy, my father and I were sitting in the studio, and, as my father was watching the piece, I saw him start to cry, a reaction I had never seen before in the studio. After the piece ended, Randy explained that the newly created section was in honor of my mom, which was something he had not told us until after the viewing. Obviously my father’s reaction hit a strong chord, which we understood afterwards. Then, for many years, my father told me he wanted the piece to be performed at his funeral; it was a joke between us that he would tell me again and again, and I would say, “Dad, I know, please stop, I know.” Many years later, in March of 2008, the night my father passed we had a performance at the Harris (the only one he ever missed), and, straight from the Harris, I went to the hospital, where he quietly passed, a moment I do not like to remember. The company left the next day for a two-week tour in Hawaii. Despite the challenge of our company being gone and the church saying no to any dance or music, we overcame it all, and our Giordano II dancers and some dancers from past years came in, and the piece was done down the aisles of the church for over 1,000 people, and let me tell you, it was a celebration like no one had ever seen, not a dry eye in the crowd.
As we embark on our 55th Anniversary Season, Dance For Life will be the first performance of the season, and I can’t imagine a more beautiful way to begin. The piece is held dear to my heart and to all of our dancers, and we will use both the main and second company for a total of 14 dancers. And the voices of the beautiful Bourne Family (a mother and her eight children) is a force from above; there is no doubt that the piece will radiate through the Auditorium with pure joy culminating in a magical energy surge surprise.
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
Choreography by Nacho Duato
Photo: Hubbard Street Dance (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)
Nacho Duato was the first international choreographer chosen by Lou Conte 20 years ago to bring into Hubbard Street’s repertory, and Crystal Pite represents the current company and the future of the company
A Picture of You Falling
Choreography by Crystal Pite
Photo: Jason Hortin (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Artistic Director Glenn Edgerton tells us this about the two excerpts from the Hubbard Street Repertory at Dance For Life:
I am very excited to present an excerpt of “Jardi Tancat” by Nacho Duato and “A Picture of You Falling” by Crystal Pite for Dance For Life. These two pieces represent the vast range of Hubbard Street as we are starting our 40th Anniversary Season. Nacho Duato was the first international choreographer chosen by Lou Conte 20 years ago to bring into Hubbard Street’s repertory, and Crystal Pite represents the current company and the future of the company. I am also happy that Jason Hortin is dancing this solo for his last performance after an incredible 10-year career with the company and with Dance for Life. His time with the company has been transformative having followed his decade of profound performances and having been an immensely dedicated member of the ensemble.
The Joffrey Ballet
Choreography: Alexander Ekman
Photo: The Joffrey Ballet (Photo by Cheryl Mann)
This piece explores what it means to express joy through movement …
The Joffrey Ballet‘s Artistic Director Ashley Wheater writes:
Alexander Ekman has such a fresh voice. We were thrilled to have him create the world premiere Joy on the Joffrey. This piece explores what it means to express joy through movement, which perfectly reflects the joyful feeling of the Chicago dance community coming together for one performance every year at Dance for Life.
Joining Giordano Dance, Hubbard Street and The Joffrey at Dance For Life 2017 will be Visceral Dance Chicago, Jessica Miller Tomlinson Choreography and a collaboration between Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater and Trinity Irish Dance Company. Visceral Dance Chicago performs Ruff Celts, choreographed by Marguerite Donlon, and Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater and Trinity Irish Dance Company together perform In the Meantime, choreographed by Lane Alexander, Maggie Eileen Doyle and Claudia Pizarro. Jessica Miller Tomlinson Choreography performs In Tongues, and DancerMusic’s Kristi Licera spoke to Jessica Miller Tomlinson about In Tongues in our story 5 Questions: Jessica Miller Tomlinson Choreography at Dance For Life 2017.
Special thanks to Jill Chukerman of JAC Communications for her help in preparing this story.
Featured photo: Noelle Kayser in Dance for Life. Photo: Todd Rosenberg