It's great to be bold and imaginative, but it's never easy to keep being bold and imaginative, at least not for long. Harvest Chicago Contemporary Dance Festival --- the bold and imaginative two-weekend festival that Nicole Gifford and Melissa Mallinson produce -- has managed to be imaginative, bold and successful every year for eight full years. On September 21, 2018 when HCCDF 2018 opens at The Ruth Page Center for the Arts in Chicago, that will make it nine. It sounds like quite an accomplishment, and it certainly is, and when you find out more about it, about the many dance artists who get the chance to present their own imaginative visions, about the audiences who get to share in them, it starts sounding like even more of an accomplishment. Naturally, we wanted to find out more about it, so we reached out to Nicole Gifford. Here's what she told us:
'Accomplished' is one way that you can describe classical pianist Joyce Yang, and another way that you can describe her is 'widely acclaimed', but there's something you'll want to keep in mind about both of those terms. When you apply them to Joyce Yang, they describe a process more than a picture, because Joyce Yang accomplishes so much, so often, that she gets more widely acclaimed all the time. This year, for example, she and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet have been very widely acclaimed (including by a number of sold-out audiences) for their performances of ASFB's An Evening With Joyce Yang. It's a program of three ballets in which Yang performs live on stage with Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, and they will be performing it at The Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe on September 1st. One of Yang's less well-known accomplishments is a beautifully composed article that she wrote entitled "Music and Movement", in which she shares a vivid series of insights into the mysterious interaction of dance and music, insights that she discovered and explored in the process of working with ASFB and Elo. "Music and Movement" first appeared at pianistjoyceyang.com, and now, Joyce Yang has generously allowed DancerMusic to reprint it here in its entirety. Here it is, don't miss it.
Forget for a moment that Aspen Santa Fe Ballet is an extraordinary artistic organization. It's a subject worth talking about, and we'll probably return to it more than once in other stories, but just for the moment, as difficult as it may be, just try to forget that. Or rather (especially since it's nearly impossible to forget), let's start from there and move on. Because in "An Evening With Joyce Yang", Aspen Santa Fe Ballet shows that they're actually something even more remarkable. ASFB is a study in exactly how to be an extraordinary artistic organization. In "An Evening With Joyce Yang", which ASFB will present at The Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe (September 1st at 8pm), Yang will perform live on stage with ASFB, as they perform "Half/Cut/Split" by noted Finnish choreographer Jorma Elo (who collaborated with Yang to bring Robert Schumann’s Carnaval to life), Jiří Kylián’s seminal "Return to a Strange Land", and Nicolo Fonte’s touching "Where We Left Off". That's just part of the start of the story, though. To find out more we reached out to Jessica Moore, ASFB Director of Marketing, to give us a closer look at this extraordinary program. Here's what she told us:
One of the reasons that Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is known all over the world is because they perform all over the world. Just this summer, audiences in Mexico, Canada, and across the United State have seen them, but when it gets to be the middle of August, if you want to see Hubbard Street perform you have to come to Chicago, and it's been like that for twenty-seven years. Thats how long Hubbard Street Dance Chicago has been performing at Dance for Life -- since the first Dance for Life, and once again this year, they'll be at Dance for Life
Giordano Dance Chicago will be performing Ray Mercer's Tossed Around when they take the stage on August 18th for Dance For Life 2018 at The Auditorium Theatre. So much goes into a work like Tossed Around that if you're seeing a work like that for the very first time, it can be a lot to take in all at once. That's why it's so great when somebody can give an audience a better idea of what they're about to see. Michael McStraw is the Executive Director of Giordano Dance Chicago, and he knows Tossed Around better than most, and not just its multiple layers of design. McStraw knows what went into it, and a lot of what has come out of it for audience and artists alike. He's one of those artists who has both danced and directed dance companies, someone who can mix passion and professionalism and never drop a beat. So naturally, we asked Michael McStraw to give us a little deeper look into Tossed Around. Here's what he told us:
Among the many arts of the Art of Dance, freestyling is its own special world, but it includes just about every part of what makes dance an art. Great freestyle starts with having such a range of motion and technique and inspiration that you can present any of it at any moment. Although the creative decisions are made faster than even the fastest of movement, those are the same decisions and the same creativity that are always the essence of making a dance. So it's quite remarkable that at Dance For Life 2018, Chicago Dance Crash is there to freestyle -- which is almost unheard of for such a monumental production. Crash Artistic Director Jessica Deahr took some time to give us a little closer look at four moments from Chicago Dance Crash's very rich freestyle history in 4PHOTOS from Crash. Here we go:
Nobody ever got the idea to become a dancer by reading the Encyclopedia of Easy Jobs. It's an exceptionally demanding profession, and one of its constantly recurring challenges is discovering and deciding where to even try to work. Side by side with the widely varied possibilities in Concert Dance is a parallel but largely separate universe: Commercial Dance, and that can be a wide world, in many different ways. DancerMusic spoke to Hedwig Dances' Crystal Gurrola, to find out about one kind of opportunity that a dancer may encounter -- accepting the opportunity to dance commercially overseas. Here's what Crystal told us about her time dancing in Japan.
JUBA! Masters of Tap and Percussive Dance is not one, but two dance concerts. Although both are presentations of some of the most gifted percussive dance artists you can see anywhere, and both will be an intoxicating mixture of sophisticated choreography and inspired improvisation, they're actually two completely different programs. We talked to Dani Borak, Chicago Human Rhythm Project's Artist in Residence, to find out more about JUBA!, and we couldn't have found a better person to ask. Here's what he told us:
How in the world would you do a PRE-View of Rhythm World, Chicago Human Rhythm Project's amazing annual festival of tap and percussive dance? If you've been to see us at DancerMusic before, you know that our PRE-Views are here to tell the world about events that are interesting, exciting, entertaining and cool, so that everybody can go see them and not miss them. Rhythm World is all of that for sure, so what's the problem? The problem is that Chicago Human Rhythm Project's Rhythm World is like the big, long, eighty-car freight train of cool, entertaining, interesting and exciting. So what did we do? We redesigned our PRE-View format to include a new SPEED ROUND of questions for CHRP's Founder and Director Lane Alexander. Here's what he told us:
There can't be too many things in Dance more complicated, more challenging, or more promising than the collaboration between choreographer and composer. But there probably aren't too many people in Dance or Music better able to tell us about the mysteries of this process than Joe Cerqua. Cerqua is the Co-Founder of Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre, and at Cerqua Rivera, dance and music are richly and relentlessly interwoven in everything the Company even thinks about. We thought this would be perfect time to ask Joe to tell us about working with Sherry Zunker on "Between Us", which Cerqua Rivera will perform at Dance for Life 2018. Oh yeah, we also asked him to give us a quick look at the new piece he's working on with Monique Haley. Here's what he told us: