WBEZ | dance http://www.wbez.org/tags/dance Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 'If you’re going to do your dance, be the best' http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/if-you%E2%80%99re-going-do-your-dance-be-best-110300 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Vickie Willis and Fred Baker.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Fred Baker was, at one time, the &ldquo;World&rsquo;s Limbo King,&rdquo; says his friend and colleague Vickie Casanova Willis.</p><p>That might seem like a dubious claim but an&nbsp;<a href="http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2206&amp;dat=19710811&amp;id=jQ9VAAAAIBAJ&amp;sjid=Nj0NAAAAIBAJ&amp;pg=3989,255135">article from the August 11, 1971 <em>Miami News</em></a> describes a nightclub act in Montego Bay, Jamaica: &ldquo;The topper on the show is King Alfred Baker. If he isn&rsquo;t the world&rsquo;s champ of limbo, I&rsquo;d like to see the act that can beat him.</p><p>His assistants do the easy passes under the bar, but when it gets tough, King Alfred takes over. The clincher comes when he places the bar on top of two beer bottles. He not only wiggles under, he does it with a glass of water in each hand and a third balanced on his forehead.&rdquo;</p><p>Baker, 64, went to the StoryCorps booth at the Chicago Cultural Center earlier this year with his friend, Willis, 53. They discussed his life as a dancer.</p><p>When Fred Baker was born in Montego Bay, the city was the tourism capital of Jamaica. He followed his older brother to the markets to dance alongside the vendors.</p><p>Once his brother moved on, Baker stepped in, and began to get noticed. By the age of nine, he was travelling to perform outside of the country. He trained professionally and soon was performing in places like Paris and London.</p><p>Making a living in the arts hasn&rsquo;t always been easy for him. He remembers auditioning for the play&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auKZ2QDqkrE">&ldquo;House of Flowers&rdquo;</a> in New York - with lyrics by Truman Capote and featuring the hit song, &ldquo;Two Ladies in the Shade of De Banana Tree.&rdquo; There were so many dancers at the audition that he almost went home. Instead, he got the part.</p><p>Eventually he went back to Montego Bay to start a dance school. It began with five kids but quickly grew to more than a hundred. A few years later, he moved to Chicago and brought his dance school with him.</p><p>He still runs the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.westindianfolkdancecompany.">West Indian Folk Dance Company</a> in Chicago, which has been his home for the past 35 years.</p><p>He&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8okOu9sEWKs">a living legend in the Caribbean&ndash;American community in Chicago</a>, an instructor with Columbia College Chicago&rsquo;s Community Arts Partnership (CCAP).</p><p>When he was young, Baker&rsquo;s parents wanted him to be a lawyer or a doctor. He resisted. When they realized that their son was not going to relent, his dad gave him a piece of advice that has stuck with him all his life:</p><p>&ldquo;If you&rsquo;re going to do your dance, be the best.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 06 Jun 2014 11:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/if-you%E2%80%99re-going-do-your-dance-be-best-110300 Who is the next great Chicago choreographer? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-10/who-next-great-chicago-choreographer-108899 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/QBW_MG_4028.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="(Hubbard Street Dance Chicago/Quinn B Wharton)" /></div><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-271bb232-a792-4f1a-927b-ed29b298b4b0">Robyn Mineko Williams does not know if she is a great choreographer, or even a good one. She is hesitant to take on the distinction so early in her career. But as an emerging Chicago choreographer, her public successes far outweigh any failures. And to see one of her works in person is to understand dance on its most visceral level. Never failing to create works that appear more like dance theater than just merely dance, Mineko Williams&rsquo; small output signals a choreographer on the rise. Her latest work, <em>Fluence</em>, in the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago <a href="http://www.hubbardstreetdance.com/index.php?option=com_k2&amp;view=proditem&amp;id=211:fall-series&amp;Itemid=58" target="_blank">fall program</a> at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance and runs through Sunday, Oct. 13.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>A 2013&ndash;14 Princess Grace Choreography Fellowship Award winner, <a href="http://www.robynminekowilliams.com" target="_blank">Mineko Williams</a> is from the city and her dance career flourished as a member of River North Dance Chicago before joining Hubbard Street Dance Chicago for 12 seasons. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s my people. It&rsquo;s my community,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Choreography is quite competitive in general and I feel taken care of and supported by Chicago.&rdquo;</span></p><p>Unlike other artistic communities, Chicago&rsquo;s dance community is one of the city&#39;s strongest and therefore, greatness does not seem to be a matter of if, but when. Chicago allows its performers to make work in an environment fueled by both their vision and a home-grown team of support.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-271bb232-a792-4f1a-927b-ed29b298b4b0">&ldquo;In a way, I feel that I have a lot of people with me,&rdquo; Mineko Williams said. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re supporting me as a growing artist. I just feel really lucky. I don&rsquo;t think that happens a lot.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-271bb232-a792-4f1a-927b-ed29b298b4b0"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/HSD130916_078.JPG" style="float: left;" title="(Hubbard Street Dance Chicago/Todd Rosenberg)" />Since premiering her first Hubbard Street Dance Chicago work <em>Recall</em> as part of the company&rsquo;s <em>danc(e)volve: New Works Festival</em> at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Williams has focused more on refining her choreography</span>.</p><p dir="ltr"><span>&ldquo;My goals are the same and hopefully my vocabulary is tightening up more and I&rsquo;m becoming more conscious of what I like to do and whether or not it works,&rdquo; she said. </span></p><p>Visually, <em>Fluence</em> is a work of technological and mechanical appeal. Featuring five men and four women, the dancers&rsquo; movements appear not unlike computer glitches, never quite lovely but always methodical. An extensive use of hand gestures furthers that idea. Visually, they appear as if lacking control in their movements, as if their thoughts and actions are two distinct properties.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-271bb232-a792-4f1a-927b-ed29b298b4b0"><em>Fluence</em> is the physical manifestation of the mechanical process. Multiple functions are built into one process and when it does not function, what we get is something new, but still compelling. This doubles as a metaphor for how </span><span id="docs-internal-guid-271bb232-a792-4f1a-927b-ed29b298b4b0">Mineko </span><span id="docs-internal-guid-271bb232-a792-4f1a-927b-ed29b298b4b0">Williams works.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-271bb232-a792-4f1a-927b-ed29b298b4b0">Mineko Williams thrives on the insights she develops from those she works with, whether they are fellow dancers or creatives outside of her community. </span></p><p>&ldquo;Collaboration is something I love, to have other eyes there and to create something with other people,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>The list of collaborators for <em>Fluence</em> include composer/musician Robert F. Haynes, Brooklyn-based lighting designer Burke Brown, and fashion designer Hogan McLaughlin.</p><p>&ldquo;I like to surround myself with people who are on board, who have similar aesthetics as me,&rdquo; Mineko Williams said.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-271bb232-a792-4f1a-927b-ed29b298b4b0">The end result is a piece that speaks to a certain cinematic vision. The stage direction, lighting design, and multiple &ldquo;scenes&rdquo; taking place at once are not unlike a movie shot. Folks dance within the foreground and background, each performing different gestures, to create layers upon layers of activity. And like a great movie, audiences can expect to take feel something viscerally. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>&ldquo;You can&rsquo;t control people&rsquo;s opinions or tastes,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;A great compliment to me is if something sticks.&rdquo;</span></p><p><em>Hubbard Street Dance Chicago&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.hubbardstreetdance.com/index.php?option=com_k2&amp;view=proditem&amp;id=211:fall-series&amp;Itemid=58" target="_blank">fall series</a> runs through Oct. 13 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance.</em></p><p dir="ltr"><em>Britt Julious writes about race and culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 11 Oct 2013 07:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-10/who-next-great-chicago-choreographer-108899 Latin dance company Luna Negra closes http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-05/latin-dance-company-luna-negra-closes-107192 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/dance.jpg" title="(Chery Mann)" /></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F92365947" width="100%"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr">Chicago lost some of its Latin flavor this week.</p><p dir="ltr">After 14 years, <a href="http://www.lunanegra.org/">Luna Negra</a> is shutting down. The company, launched in 1999, specialized in cutting edge, contemporary Latin dance from around the world. In-house choreographers, like Mónica Cervantes, were considered <a href="http://www.dancemagazine.com/issues/January-2013/2013-25-to-watch">&ldquo;dancers to watch&rdquo;.</a></p><p dir="ltr">But in March the music changed. Luna Negra had just performed Made in Spain at the Harris Theatre, receiving <a href="http://www.stageandcinema.com/2013/03/11/luna-negra-made-in-spain/">rave </a><a href="http://rogueballerina.com/2013/03/12/luna-negras-made-in-spain/">reviews.</a></p><p dir="ltr">Then days later, all the dancers were laid off.</p><p dir="ltr">Veronica Guadalupe was one of them. &ldquo;It was a complete shock,&rdquo; says Guadalupe, &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think anybody, especially the dancers, were aware of the extent to which the company was in dire straits&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Guadalupe joined the company in 2002, first as a dancer then, after retiring last year, as the company&rsquo;s associate artistic director.</p><p dir="ltr">She says under artistic director Gustavo Ramirez Sansano, the company&rsquo;s reputation soared.</p><p dir="ltr">Sansano <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2013/04/29/artistic-director-gustavo-ramirez-sansano-leaves-luna-negra-dance-theater">left the company abruptly</a> in late April.</p><p dir="ltr">And based on Luna Negra&rsquo;s last tax return, their finances were grounded.</p><p dir="ltr">The company&rsquo;s deficit more than doubled in one year, from $48,475 in 2010 to $121,141 by the end of 2011.</p><p dir="ltr">Guadalupe thinks there are other factors at work in the company&rsquo;s closure. She was surprised there wasn&rsquo;t more support from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is a support of Chicago dance, especially after the layoffs in March.</p><p dir="ltr">But Guadalupe also thinks the community didn&rsquo;t show up.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;You know for being a Latin company, for being the only Latin company here in Chicago, we don&rsquo;t get any support from the Latin community.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The company&rsquo;s tax returns indicate gross receipts from admissions and other items (merchandise sold, services performed, facilities furnished) remained relatively flat, until falling off by about $100,000 between 2010 and 2011.</p><p dir="ltr">Luna Negra officials and board members did not respond to requests for comments.</p><p><em>Alison Cuddy is WBEZ&rsquo;s Arts and Culture reporter. Follow her<a href="https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy"> @wbezacuddy</a>, on<a href="https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison?ref=tn_tnmn"> Facebook</a> and on<a href="http://instagram.com/cuddyreport"> Instagram</a></em></p></p> Wed, 15 May 2013 16:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-05/latin-dance-company-luna-negra-closes-107192 Constellation: A new venue for music and other performing arts http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-04/constellation-new-venue-music-and-other-performing-arts-106402 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/links hall.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Wrigleyville has dedicated itself to nurturing the pursuits and expressions of &quot;&#39;bro culture&quot; like no other neighborhood in Chicago.</p><p>Wandering along Clark Street between Belmont and Addison Avenues on a weekend (or during a Cubs home stand) is like entering their personal pleasure dome, a place where men sporting backwards baseball caps and pastel golf shirts stage elaborate performances: Alienated sports fan, existential beer chugger, street fighter.</p><p>So I&#39;ve always found it pleasing that the neighborhood has proven a shelter for two very different communities: the practitioners of women&#39;s health, and performing artists.</p><p>No more though. After 35 years sharing the second story of the Link&#39;s-Hall Building at the corners of Sheffield, Clark and Newport, both the <a href="http://chicagowomenshealthcenter.org/">Women&#39;s Health Center </a>and performance venue <a href="http://www.members.linkshall.org/Default.aspx">Links Hall</a> are <a href="http://www.linkshall.org/Space/GoodbyeOldLinks/tabid/200/Default.aspx">relocating</a>.</p><p>Though it has been raising money and looking for a new space for some time, Women&#39;s Health Center hasn&#39;t yet made an announcement about new digs. But Links Hall has not only landed, in many ways it has found a new lease on life.</p><p>Their new home is the former Viaduct Theatre at Belmont and Western, now known as <a href="http://www.constellation-chicago.com/event/247849-source-family-chicago/">Constellation</a>.</p><p>There Links Hall, under the direction of Roell Schmidt, will be both the primary tenant and partner in a <a href="http://linkshall.org/Space/NewHomeForLinks/tabid/197/Default.aspx">&quot;collaborative arts venue&quot;</a> with jazz musician and music presenter <a href="http://www.mikereedmusic.com/thinkingoutloud.cfm">Mike Reed.</a></p><p>In fact tonight Links will kick Constellation into existence with its show&nbsp;<a href="http://members.linkshall.org/Performances/April/tabid/174/Default.aspx#aprilfraction"><em>Fraction: Dance in Progress</em>.</a></p><p><em>Fraction,</em> in keeping with Link&#39;s mission to present established and emerging performers, is kind of a dance &quot;open house&quot;. The program features a&nbsp;series of works-in-progress by an array of performers, including 7th and 8th grade Near North Montessori School students, a couple of flamenco artists, and Philip Elson, a member of local dance troupe The Seldoms. There&#39;ll also be opportunity for audiences to talk with the artists and provide feedback on their work.</p><p>But <em>Fraction </em>also represents what&#39;s exciting about Constellation overall.</p><p>Though many of the venue&#39;s shows will reflect Reed&#39;s experiences in the world of improvised music (he performs in a seemingly endless number of &nbsp;ensembles and leads two jazz groups of his own),&nbsp;this is also a space for all kinds of performers, including dancers, filmmakers, and pop musicians.</p><p>Variety has truly been the hallmark of Reed&#39;s presenting style, whether at the Chicago Jazz Festival, the Pitchfork Music Festival or, for the past two years, the Brilliant Corners of Popular Amusement, a curious but satisfying mix of music performers, circus acts and stand-up comedians. That he&#39;s hired <a href="http://michaelslaboch.com/home.html">Michael Slaboch</a>, former talent buyer at The Hideout, to program Constellation, signals a continuing commitment to eclecticism.</p><p>Already there is an emphasis on collaboration across performing arts.&nbsp;This coming Sunday, Links Hall dancers will improvise alongside Dutch experimental musician Hans Bennink and other members of ICP (Instant Composers Pool). On April 18th CIMM (the Chicago International Music and Movies Festival) will host an evening with works from both musician Van Dyke Parks and his son filmmaker Richard Parks.</p><p>Constellation is also forging into less familiar musical territory with a weekly series showcasing Chicago&#39;s burgeoning new or contemporary classical music scene.</p><p>Curated by <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/ArticleArchives?author=847392">Peter Margasak of The Chicago Reader</a> (and a regular contributor to&nbsp;WBEZ&#39;s Friday night music show <em>Radio M</em>), the series will focus mainly on local ensembles. Already in the works are performances from members of <a href="http://www.eighthblackbird.org/">Eighth Blackbird</a>, <a href="http://iceorg.org/">International Contemporary Ensemble</a>, and <a href="http://dalniente.com/">Ensemble Dal Niente</a>.</p><p>Though it&#39;s possible to see contemporary classical music on a fairly regular basis in the city, until now, said Margasak, they &quot;haven&#39;t had a center of action.&quot; He&#39;s also hoping the series will provide them with some much-needed &quot;infrastructure&quot;.</p><p>&quot;Normally these groups have to rent spaces and equipment to perform,&quot; said Margasak. &quot;This basically gets rid of a lot of their overhead. Constellation has a real piano, a real sound system, a screen if they want to do multimedia stuff.&quot;</p><p>Long term, Margasak&#39;s ambition is to increase the profile of Chicago&#39;s new music performers and composers on their home turf. As with many local jazz artists, contemporary classical musicians have frequently found more acclaim the further they get from Chicago.</p><p>And though certain groups, like ICE, Fulcrum Point and Fifth House Ensemble have been music stalwarts in the city for some time now, performing in venues from the Adler Planetarium to small art galleries, Margasak thinks featuring them at Constellation, with its cross-section of performance genres and styles, will help &quot;demystify&quot; or make the music come across as &quot;less hoity-toity&quot;.</p><p>Chicago&#39;s music venues have long learned to find space for other performing talents, from poets and writers to talk show hosts and spelling bee contestants. Still, Constellation seems like a different effort to present a whole array of cutting edge events, in a space and manner audiences will still find accessible.</p><p>You can judge for yourself when the venue opens its doors tonight. Meanwhile, Margasak will launch his new music series, known as &quot;Frequency&quot;, with a free open house on April 27th. He&#39;s featuring groups that represent both the composed (Ensemble Dal Niente) and improvised (modular synth group <a href="http://www.brianlabycz.com/thegreenpasturehappiness.html">The Green Pasture Happiness</a> led by Brian Labycz) sides of the new music scene.</p><p><em>Constellation is located at 3111 N. Western Avenue.</em></p><p><em>Alison Cuddy is WBEZ&#39;s Arts and Culture reporter. You can follow her on twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy">@wbezacuddy</a>, <a href="http://instagram.com/cuddyreport">Instagram</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison?ref=tn_tnmn">Facebook</a>.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 01 Apr 2013 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-04/constellation-new-venue-music-and-other-performing-arts-106402 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 DJ Incredible Zulk's first Dance Dance Party Party mix of 2013 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-01/dj-incredible-zulks-first-dance-dance-party-party-mix-2013-104668 <p><div class="image-insert-image ">Last night I DJ&#39;ed the first <a href="http://www.zulkey.com/2010/05/dance_dance_party_party_revolu.php">Dance Dance Party Party</a> of 2013, so if you&#39;re feeling blah and gray and want to dance around in your kitchen or office chair, maybe one of these songs will get you going.</div><p>Warmup:</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/v9ECW-Dabn0?rel=0" width="420"></iframe></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/U5rLz5AZBIA?rel=0" width="560"></iframe></p><p>I think this song is really cute. It&#39;s about a couple that is in love despite the fact that the guy doesn&#39;t have any money which is sort of an old-timey theme for a song.</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="360" src="http://www.dailymotion.com/embed/video/xz8wy" width="480"></iframe><br />Thanks to the Spice Girls, I will always have a place in my heart for British girl groups.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/zd8lP4YnQNE?rel=0" width="560"></iframe></p><p>Whenever this song pops up on my running list I get pumped up. It&#39;s so ridiculous and manic and <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWhtcU4-xAM">the official music video</a> is only thing that ever really makes me want to live in New York.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/imWnuirIL8o?rel=0" width="420"></iframe></p><p>I had two dancey-related Talking Heads moments last year: First was at my friend Tracy&#39;s wedding when the DJ played &quot;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzORu1dqEE0">Life During Wartime</a>&quot; and the second was when I watched &quot;Stop Making Sense&quot; and I knew I had to throw some in my next playlist. This is of course an homage to the baby, who is <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/zulkey/8328577066/in/photostream">cute cute as a button</a>.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/GUZCV95SCXE?rel=0" width="420"></iframe></p><p>I was not allowed to have a beeper when I was in high school, because they were for drug dealers.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/Qm8ClRnVxtE?rel=0" width="420"></iframe></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/UpmX4qG1kQg?rel=0" width="560"></iframe></p><p>Last summer when I was pretty hugely pregnant I participated in a karaoke charity event and sang this song while wearing a little summer dress and I didn&#39;t even it make it to the next round, let alone win, which I am still bitter about. But at least I learned more of the lyrics to this song.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/GA27aQZCQMk?rel=0" width="420"></iframe></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/KlyXNRrsk4A?rel=0" width="560"></iframe></p><p>This song still makes me happy. You can&#39;t fight City Hall.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/6iaR3WO71j4?rel=0" width="420"></iframe></p><p>I&#39;m not sure how I came to acquire this song but I like to throw something old like this on my playlists because you can do the most fun dances to songs from the &#39;60&#39;s.</p><p>This song is NOT safe for work:<br /><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" mozallowfullscreen="" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/45861688" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="500"></iframe></p><p>We dance to this song in my WERQ class and so it helps that I have a little routine already built into it. I was worried when I first added it to the playlist that it was too weird and nasty but then when it played I realized that I would have danced to a whole playlist like this.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/Fzr2Nv8NTEE?rel=0" width="560"></iframe></p><p>This is nerdy but I read an article in the <em>New Yorker </em>about <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2012/11/k-pop-escape.html">K-pop</a> and felt compelled to look up all the songs mentioned in the article. This was my favorite because it sounds like Britney Spears and a computer made a baby. I thought it&#39;d be a good palate-cleanser after Lil Wayne.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/g93mz_eZ5N4?rel=0" width="420"></iframe></p><p>This video is the best. That is all.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/p7qCbC1f9v4?rel=0" width="420"></iframe></p><p>If you watch <em>Madagascar 3 </em>(and you should: it&#39;s funny and weird), this song will be in your head all night. It makes me want to dance like an idiot so I thought it&#39;d be a good way to wrap up the cold night.</p><p>Cool down:</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><a class="my_play my_27" href="http://www.myspace.com/prince/music/songs/she-s-always-in-my-hair-lp-version-30803524" style="display:inline-block;margin:0;padding:0;border:0;width:27px;height:27px;overflow:hidden;text-indent:-9999px;background:url(http://x.myspacecdn.com/modules/common/static/img/playbuttonsprite.png) no-repeat 0 -85px;" title="She's Always In My Hair (LP Version)">She&#39;s Always In My Hair (LP Version)</a><script defer="true" src="http://www.myspace.com/music/buttons/js"></script></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/flickr_dj_is_kyoto_jp.jpg" style="float: right; height: 301px; width: 200px;" title="(Flickr/DJisKyotoJP)" /></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 03 Jan 2013 08:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-01/dj-incredible-zulks-first-dance-dance-party-party-mix-2013-104668 List: Weird girly names for workout classes I've recently taken and what they actually mean http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-10/list-weird-girly-names-workout-classes-ive-recently-taken-and-what-they <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/6766495665_282c15bd60.jpg" style="height: 418px; width: 620px; " title="(Flickr/StudioBarre)" /></div><p style="text-align: center; ">WERQ (Dancing to pop hip-hop)</p><p style="text-align: center; ">Chisel fo&#39; Shizzel (strength training)</p><p style="text-align: center; ">Hot Bod (strength training plus cardio)</p><p style="text-align: center; ">Barre Bee Fit (isometrics [strength training with small, excruciating movements])</p></p> Tue, 23 Oct 2012 08:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-10/list-weird-girly-names-workout-classes-ive-recently-taken-and-what-they Make no small cultural plans http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-02-24/make-no-small-cultural-plans-96704 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-February/2012-02-24/2408912567_e2494c835b.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-24/2408912567_e2494c835b.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 303px;" title="The downtown Chicago Public Library, home to many special collections. (Flickr/Shawn Econo)">The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) has begun to fulfill Rahm Emmanuel’s campaign promise to draft a comprehensive cultural plan for the City of Chicago. We haven’t had a new one since 1986 when Mayor Harold Washington first established the Dept. of Cultural Affairs and ordered a cultural assessment.</p><p>The public is invited to participate in preparation of the plan—due to be published in the fall—through public forums and <a href="http://www.chicagoculturalplan2012.com">an interactive website</a>.</p><p>OK, so what should a cultural scheme for Chicago include?</p><p>On the one hand, it should obey the dictum attributed to Daniel Burnham to “make no small plans.” Let’s think big. As Danny Thomas used to say (and he knew whereof he spoke), “If you’re gonna’ have a nose, have a NOSE!” Let’s dream, let’s imagine. Let’s propose new cultural entities and facilities, just as long as we have programs first to fill buildings and not empty buildings waiting for programs to utilize them.</p><p>On the other hand, there’s economic reality. Despite the proven importance of arts and culture as a dynamic economic engine for the city (and state), one would be loco to think Chicago will substantially increase the dollars it puts into culture. The city will do everything it can . . . as long as “everything” costs little or nothing or generates revenue.</p><p>Where does that leave a cultural master plan? What should it include? What <em>can</em> it include? My thoughts are no more definitive than anyone else’s, but may be somewhat more informed or enlightened by virtue of my reporting on arts and culture for so many years. What I propose may seem vague, but for starters the City of Chicago Cultural Plan needs to address patrimony, places and partnerships.</p><p>By patrimony—as the United Nations uses the term—I mean the buildings, archives and collections that form the cultural heritage of Chicago. The plan needs to identify these things and catalog them. Some are obvious, such as our architectural heritage, with regard to which the City has a smudged and spotty record, best summed up by saying our aldermen never met a developer they didn’t like. Also obviously, we have significant public and private art collections which should be identified, in part so we can do what we can to keep them in Chicago.</p><div class="inset"><div class="insetContent"><p><span style="font-size:10px;">Listen to the Dueling Critics debate Porchlight's <em>A Catered Affair </em>on <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em></span></p><p><span class="filefield_audio_insert_player" href="/sites/default/files/120224 Onstage Backstage.mp3" id="filefield_audio_insert_player-126376" player="null">120224 Onstage Backstage.mp3</span></p></div></div><p>But some of our patrimony is less obvious. Our cultural archives and records, for example, are haphazard and scattered, with some papers, photos and clippings at the Newberry Library, some at the Chicago Public Library Special Collections, others at the Chicago History Museum or various universities, etc. A cultural plan might make an effort to cross catalog holdings and to establish a central archive for things not yet collected, such as theater reviews and articles that chronicle the rise of Chicago Off-Loop Theater over the last 45-50 years. DCASE and a cultural plan could be the catalysts for inter-agency and inter-institution cooperation.&nbsp;</p><p>By places, I mean the physical facilities at which cultural events can occur. Again, many of these are obvious and already in use but not all of them. For example, several Chicago Park District field houses are utilized for theater, dance and musical performances, but not all the field houses that might be suitable. The cultural plan could engage the Park District in identifying additional locations and, perhaps, finding ways to finance small capital improvements to make more spaces available.</p><p>On another front, several aldermen have assisted performing arts organizations in locating suitable spaces to serve as permanent homes (the most recent example being James Cappleman’s assist in relocating the National Pastime Theater to the Preston Bradley Center), and DCASE itself has brokered such deals. But there isn’t a consistent program or policy to do this sort of thing. Here is another opportunity for DCASE and a cultural plan to serve as catalyst and facilitator at little or no cost.</p><p>Finally, the master cultural document needs to address partnerships, meaning public-private partnerships and naming rights. In the current economic climate, such partnerships are among the few ways that arts and culture might generate an infusion of new dollars. The City and the Park District already have created such partnerships in the development of Millennium Park and in corporate support for the Grant Park Music Festival among other examples. I’ve already used this blog space to promote (twice) the idea that DCASE’s CityArts (sic) Grants program should be underwritten by a corporate sponsor with dollars coming 50-50 from the City and the sponsor.</p><p>There are, of course, numerous other funding possibilities, the most obvious of which are the huge aldermanic slush fund boondoggles known as TIF Districts, which directly siphon off property tax money that <em>should</em> be going to education, the parks and so on. Our City Council never will give up TIFs voluntarily, but they just might mandate that a certain percentage of each TIF be earmarked for arts and culture in support of specifics in the cultural plan or, better yet, in support of arts in education which has all but disappeared from our public schools (which also must be addressed by the cultural plan).</p><p>So there are my ideas for the City of Chicago Cultural Plan. Meanwhile, I have copies of long-deceased magazines and newspapers for which I wrote over the years, and I have my collection of Off-Loop Theater t-shirts and coffee cups all waiting for an appropriate home. Clearly, the Plan’s first recommendation should be a call for the Jonathan Abarbanel Theater Archive, to which my bones can be added not-too-many years from now.&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 24 Feb 2012 16:20:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-02-24/make-no-small-cultural-plans-96704 Brickheadz breakin' bad at the Winter Block Party http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-01-18/brickheadz-breakin-bad-winter-block-party-95606 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-January/2012-01-18/brickheadz.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>“You don’t wanna throw out too much, you gotta pace yourself,” says Waka of Legendary Brickheadz, the dance hosts of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/event/2012-01-21/winter-block-party">WBEZ’s fourth annual Winter Block Party for Chicago’s Hip-Hop Arts. </a></p><p>Holding something back matters in battles, where “you have to throw out the little guys first,” Waka says. Though an individual b-boy dance bite is usually only 30 to 45 seconds, saving some sensational moves for the finals—in case you make it that far—is just common sense.</p><p>At last year’s block party, the battles were so popular that this Saturday, at Metro, they start at 4 p.m. on the main stage with 3-on-3 prelims. Brickhead Shon Roka (aka Shaun Ortega) deejays—and says that if Brickheadz “were made up of body parts, Waka would be the head and I would be the heart.” The contest continues at 8 p.m. with the semifinals and finals and a history lesson that includes interviews, archival footage, and Waka—a legend internationally and nationally, according to Shon—and the other two judges in their own showcases.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="410" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/BApPpxs_TIs" width="560"></iframe></p><p>The Brickheadz crew has been active for about 15 years, Waka says—and “got the ‘legendary’ status about ten years ago.” There are “maybe nine or ten dancers. But we got a big family, about 20 in the crew total, including the MCs, DJs, old-school guys.”</p><p>“We got guys from the Ukraine, Mexicans,” says Waka. “And we all dance way different from each other.”</p><p>Waka, 35, says that at this point there’ve been three generations of Brickheadz. He’s part of the second, while in the third the oldest is “maybe 21.” And the first generation, the founders? “Between kids and work—those kinda things—the guys don’t break anymore.”</p><p>Born Huascar Alcantara in the Dominican Republic, Waka moved to Humboldt Park at 11. Back in the old country, he saw the movie <em>Breakin’,</em> but his grandma told him no way he was doing that. Here, he says, “it’s been 23 years and going.”</p><p>Though he started in grammar school, “I didn’t really get into breaking until I went to a party in the early 90s where guys were battling,” he says. That “first encounter” seems to have made a big impression: “It got me—it was too much at the time.”</p><p>“A lot of guys are more traditional. I like to create my own moves, I like the dark side—my style, I’m more aggressive.” Asked to describe it, he says, “You have to see it!”</p><p>Though breaking focuses him mentally and physically, Waka says, "Don't get me wrong, dancing at 35 gets challenging sometimes. But that’s life! Believe it or not, dancing is the fountain of youth. So let’s drink up.”</p></p> Wed, 18 Jan 2012 15:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-01-18/brickheadz-breakin-bad-winter-block-party-95606 Mark Yonally wants to give tap dancing its due http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-12-07/mark-yonally-wants-give-tap-dancing-its-due-94674 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-December/2011-12-07/mark yonally tidings of tap.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Who teaches deaf children to tap-dance? A true believer, that’s who. Choreographer Mark Yonally, who heads up <a href="http://chicagotaptheatre.com/">Chicago Tap Theatre</a>, wants to bring tap to the masses.</p><p>A self-professed “child of the ‘death of tap’ period,” Yonally says that tap-dance pretty much disappeared from Broadway and the movies between the mid-50s and early 80s. Tap historians, he adds, generally point the finger at Agnes de Mille’s modern-dance dream ballet in <em>Oklahoma!</em>, which made tap-dancing seem “old-fashioned and out of touch.”</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-07/eric yonally.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 419px;" title=""></p><p>Springing to the defense of a form he’s used in lots of pop culture-based narrative dances, Yonally says firmly: “Tap can reveal psychological insights, tap can further a narrative, tap can explore more complex emotions.” Among the wordless story shows CTT has produced in its nine years: an epic contest between comic book superheroes and a science-fiction tale with a David Bowie score.</p><p>Raised in a Kansas City suburb, Yonally was a child stage and screen actor who decided at 18 that he was better at dancing than acting.</p><p>But theater—and crossing boundaries generally—is still fundamental to his work. CTT’s “Tidings of Tap” was Chicago’s first holiday production to include both Christmas and Hanukkah, always with a light touch. <em>Beatcracker in a Nutshell</em>, for example, is a beat-boxed and tapped rendition of five Tchaikovsky tunes.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-07/tidings of tap.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 308px;" title="2010's 'Tidings of Tap' production"><a href="https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/208964">This weekend “Tidings of Tap” crosses another boundary</a>: it will be set entirely to live music. New company members Andrew Edwards, CTT’s longtime composer and arranger, and violinist Samantha O’Connell will perform, plus husband-and-wife klezmer whizzes Kurt and Annette Bjorling and bassist Ken Fuller. New pieces include Yonally’s <em>Kiever Dreydiekh</em> (“Dreidels of Kiev”) and <em>You’re a Swingin’ One, Mr. G.</em> (aka “the Grinch”) as well as company member Rich Ashworth’s <em>Candlelight</em>.</p><p>Asked whether “Tidings of Tap” is a CTT cash cow, Yonally says no. “Most of our shows come very close to breaking even—or actually break a profit. We try to do shows that we think the audience will want to see.”</p><p>In March, that’ll be a new danced narrative based on <em>Les Yeux Sans Visage</em> (<em>Eyes Without a Face</em>), a 1960 French horror flick with a gruesome premise: a surgeon is kidnapping beautiful women, cutting off their faces, and attempting to graft them onto the mangled face of his daughter.</p><p>“We try to keep our shows family-friendly,” Yonally says. “But this one may skew older, like PG-13. I’m not interested in going the Grand Guignol route—there are so many artists exploring angst and darkness, no one needs me to do that. There will be some dark humor.”</p><p>Always up for a challenge, Yonally knew that teaching deaf and hard-of-hearing kids to tap-dance wouldn’t be easy. He didn’t realize it was totally uncharted territory. By the night before he was slated to teach fourth- through eighth-graders at Bell School in Roscoe Village, he’d discovered nothing at all online about how to do it. And when he went to the website of Gallaudet University, which specializes in education for the aurally challenged, he discovered an article debunking his only theory: that deaf children would learn to dance by feeling vibrations in the floor.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-07/mark yonally tidings of tap.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 301px; height: 400px;" title="Yonally in last year's 'Tidings of Tap'">“I told the kids when I started,” he says, “we are pioneers.”</p><p>What Yonally eventually found was that his students learned visually. And unfortunately the auditorium stage where he holds classes, unlike most dance studios, has no mirrors. When his students try to dance without him leading them, they can’t get visual cues from one another to stay in unison. So now a CTT board member is buying portable mirrors.</p><p>“When I started, I couldn’t sign,” Yonally says. “And now I’ve got maybe a 20- or 30-word vocabulary. Today I learned ‘from the beginning.’ I tell them I’m teaching them to tap, and they’re teaching me to sign.”</p><p>“The hard part for me, occasionally, is just keeping my stuff together. When they do it all together, I just want to cry. (Please don't let me sound too squishy and self-serving!) The teachers all dance with the kids, learning along with them. And the kids who need a little extra help, the teachers will hold their hands the whole time. A lot of people are working to make this happen.”</p></p> Wed, 07 Dec 2011 15:40:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-12-07/mark-yonally-wants-give-tap-dancing-its-due-94674