WBEZ | Harris Theater for Music and Dance http://www.wbez.org/tags/harris-theater-music-and-dance Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The Joffrey's Choreographers of Color http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-03/joffreys-choreographers-color-105964 <p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Joffrey%20Ballet%20Choreographers%20of%20Color_Photo%20by%20Herbert%20Migdoll.jpg" title="(Herbert Migdoll)" /></p><p>Contemporary dance is an underrated art form, even in Chicago, where the breadth of companies and performers is as diverse as the population it seeks to entertain. For many people, dance performances are inaccessible because of stereotypes regarding social class and age. Unlike theater or film or art, the most visually recognizable and misunderstood genre of dance is ballet. This identity, born out of the precision of the movements and its long history as an evening activity of the upper classes, overshadows the multitude of dancers and choreographers creating unique, experimental, and important new works.<br /><br />One such company that seeks to showcase emerging performers and choreographers is the Joffrey Ballet. On Sunday, March 10, the Joffrey will premiere their &quot;Choreographers of Color&quot; program featuring performers from a new generation of dancers in the Joffrey Training Academy. The show begins at 4 p.m. and <a href="http://www.harristheaterchicago.org/events/2012-2013-season/joffrey-ballet">tickets may be purchased online</a>. In its third year, the Joffrey&rsquo;s Choreographers of Color Award recognizes young minority choreographers in order to provide a unique perspective to the world of dance. Featuring four world premieres, this annual performance is both a welcome introduction to the world of dance as well as an important moment for the choreographers and the Joffrey.<br /><br /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Joffrey%20Ballet%20Choreographers%20of%20Color%202_Photo%20by%20Herbert%20Migdoll.jpg" style="float: left; height: 350px;" title="(Herbert Migdoll)" />High above the constant frenzy of the corner of State and Lake, Chicago native William McClellan spoke briefly about the influences in his work, <em>Rise/Rebuild to the Occasion</em>. Bill T. Jones, dancer, choreographer, and artistic director once said, &ldquo;When the gauntlet falls, how do we rise to the occasion?&rdquo; This quote became a driving basis for McClellan&rsquo;s work, a reflection of the numerous recent social, cultural, and environmental tragedies such as the Japanese tsunami, the earthquake of Haiti, and the recent shootings in Chicago. McClellan, a South Side native, asks, &ldquo;How do we build ourselves back up?&rdquo;<br /><br />As evident from the earlier preview, moving on requires a total immersion of the body. <em>Rise/Rebuild to the Occasion</em> is a deeply athletic and strong work featuring forceful and powerful movements from its dancers. Featuring elements of ballet, modern dance, hip-hop, and what (at times) looks like footwork, the piece is almost aggressive in its visuals. It is a way to explore and explain the severity of what has happened and to counter what is ultimately needed to move forward. McClellan understands something fundamental to the human experience. One imagines that progress comes easy, but the everyday is not as easy to maneuver as one would like. Moving on takes the whole body; it takes everything you&rsquo;ve got and then some.<br /><br />In many ways, the work ties into <em>Black Iris</em>, another chosen choreographic work by Jeremy McQueen. Featuring a moving lead female performance by Nardia Boodoo, McQueen&rsquo;s work is a tribute and testament to Black womanhood. Like McClellan&rsquo;s work, McQueen asks how one navigates the world around them. It is about change and our reactions to the changes and world we can not control. McQueen&rsquo;s work is in dedication to the women he grew up who &ldquo;exemplify the perseverance, determination, confidence, and faith that is uniquely Black and woman.&rdquo;</p><p>It is a work about what it means to be a modern Black woman, the push and pull of the beauty and the groundedness, and the pursuit of a fulfilling existence against adversity and struggle.</p><p><br />In the debate about the need for more diversity in varying artistic fields, it is encouraging to see the Joffrey both attempting to address this issue and doing so on a regular basis. For a field that is often maligned for its inability to connect with younger or different audiences, the ongoing presence of the Choreographers of Color Award is a refreshing treat for Chicago audiences.</p><p>One might wonder why it&#39;s only a one-off performance once a year and why such a diverse line-up is relegated to the its own show rather than incorporated into the regular line up from the company or the Academy. As a whole however, some effort is better than none at all. As long as other companies and artists refuse to acknowledge their homogeneity, we will continue to see the same degrees of storytelling. It is a cycle that needs to be broken.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Follow Britt on twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 07 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-03/joffreys-choreographers-color-105964 Hitting a high note with the Chicago Children's Choir http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/hitting-high-note-chicago-childrens-choir <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/CCC.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The globetrotting <a href="http://www.ccchoir.org/" target="_blank">Chicago Children&rsquo;s Choir</a> is back home this weekend for a concert program that celebrates both the season and choir&rsquo;s mission. WBEZ&rsquo;s Jason Mark gleefully shared the story on &quot;Eight Forty-Eight.&quot;</p><p>In 1956, the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/unitarians/MOORE.html">Reverend Christopher Moore</a> brought a diverse group of young people together at the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.firstuchicago.org/">Hyde Park First Unitarian Church</a>. Moore believed that kids could learn to understand each other; that through music they could build a better world.</p><p>Less than a year after Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat in Montgomery, Ala., Chicago was still one of the country's most segregated cities. Despite racial tensions, Moore&rsquo;s idea flourished and now the Chicago Children&rsquo;s Choir is the largest youth choral education program in the United States.</p><p>Now, Chicago native Josephine Lee is in charge of Moore's musical dream. Lee feels it's her responsibility to shape the future because she belives that creating a legacy for the organization is a worth while cause.</p><p><br />In 1999, Lee became the youngest person ever to serve as the choir&rsquo;s artistic director. She says the organization carried her through the death of her parents and birth of her children.</p><p>&quot;They are my family. I&rsquo;m an only child and for me, this is my life,&quot; Lee said. <br /><br />Seventeen-year-old Terry Henderson also appreciaties the choir and its original mission.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;It&rsquo;s actually humbled me as a person. I think I have a better appreciation for how connected the world actually is,&quot; Henderson said. &quot;The choir has shaped me, to be a better man in this society; allowed me to grow. I will continue to grow and take the things that I&rsquo;ve learned here out to my job, my own family, my life, and it&rsquo;s a great place to start,&quot; he told Marck.<br /><br />Lee says she upholds the choir&rsquo;s mission with a heavy dose of two key ingredients: Set high expectations and discipline.&nbsp; Her motto is: Expect the best.<br /><br />Choir member Jahan DuBose,16, took the idea to heart and found that the best motivation comes from within. DuBose started in the choir when she was seven and recognized that conductors naturally push youngsters when they might not know as much as more seasoned members.</p><p>&quot;But at a point, it doesn&rsquo;t matter whether you&rsquo;re older or not. You just reach a point where you say:'This is something I like to do, I&rsquo;m enthusiastic and I&rsquo;m going to use that enthusiasm to push myself,'&quot; DuBose observed.<br /><br />Lee concedes that sometimes the quest for perfection can be mentally, and even physically, draining. Sometimes she must learn to take a step back so that she doesn't obsess over every note, tone and cutoff.</p><p>But the obsession's payoff, she says, is huge.</p><p>&quot;If that chord locks then you can really transcend people&rsquo;s minds and souls,&quot; Lee explained.<br /><br />Caroline Kagen, 17, is inspired by her director's dedication. She told Marck that she and her fellow choir members look up to Lee, knowing that someday they could be in her shoes.&nbsp; And even though Lee drives the choir hard, Kagan says the director tailors both her praise and critiques to each voice in order to get the very best from each member.<br /><br />Lee began playing the piano and violin at five years old and had her grip on a conductor's wand by 15; music consumed her. More than any other language, she understands music.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;I just feel sounds. It&rsquo;s just something that, I&rsquo;ve innately been born with; it&rsquo;s very visceral. You know, for instance, when we were rehearsing and we hit this powerful chord, <br />it just hits me in my gut!&nbsp; And yeah, I do see colors&hellip;I see&hellip;just&hellip;spirits,&quot; she told Marck.<br /><br />Lee is the mother of two small children, and surprisingly, motherhood feeds her pride for the choir. When she began, she didn't differentiate between children and adults. Suddenly, as a mother, she awoke to the choir's immense potential.</p><p>&quot;I can&rsquo;t even get my child to sing 'A-B-C-D' with me, without him shutting me up. You know it&rsquo;s 'Mommy no; don&rsquo;t sing!,' and here I&rsquo;m working with hundreds of children who are producing unbelievable sonorous air at the drop of a hat,&quot; Lee remarked.<br />&nbsp;</p><p>Lee's amazed at the choir's ability to blend children from diverse backgrounds. Its allows them to breathe and sing together, which Lee says, is magical.</p><p><br />Lee is sure to pull a rabbit from her hat when The Chicago Children&rsquo;s Choir performs its &quot;<a target="_blank" href="http://www.ccchoir.org/events/songs-of-the-season.html">Songs of the Season</a>&quot; concert Sunday afternoon at the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.harristheaterchicago.org/">Harris Theater for Music and Dance</a> at 3:00 p.m.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG/> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:TrackMoves/> <w:TrackFormatting/> <w:PunctuationKerning/> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas/> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:DoNotPromoteQF/> <w:LidThemeOther>EN-US</w:LidThemeOther> 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