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Chicago Dancing Festival: Summertime, and the dancing's a freebie

Ballet West in Jiri Kylian's 'Sinfonietta' (Photo by Luke Isley)

In the fifth year of the Chicago Dancing Festival, expect more shows at more locations that go beyond ballet and modern to embrace the avant-garde, including avant-garde king and queen Eiko & Koma.

The festival doesn’t happen till August 23-27, but you should mark your calendars for the week of July 18—when free tickets will be handed out on a staggered basis, with different venues releasing tickets on different days. Another innovation.

Tickets have vanished within hours, if not minutes, on a single day in other years. But CDF cofounders Lar Lubovitch and Jay Franke keep pushing for a bigger and better dance experience (perhaps one reason Lubovitch will receive a Dance/USA Honor Award at its annual conference, which Chicago hosts July 13-16). Added shows this year include one at the humongous Auditorium. I wouldn’t lollygag, but if you’ve been discouraged in other years, try again this summer.

The only paid event is the opening night gala, Monday, August 22—and it’s $250 per. But you can see two of the companies scheduled that night, Chicago’s Joffrey and Martha Graham’s devotees, at the come-one-come-all final event at the Pritzker, Saturday, August 27, at 7:30 PM.

In between those dates seven events are scheduled, each one roughly (or clearly) organized around a single theme.

Tuesday, August 23, 7:30 PM, Harris Theater: Contemporary modern groups Doug Varone and Dancers, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Adam Barruch (in his own very funny dance-theater solo, The Worst Pies in London), River North Dance Chicago, and Hubbard Street.

Wednesday, August 24, noon, Harris Theater: An Eat to the Beat event—it’s an hour long and you can bring your lunch—that reprises most of the previous evening’s pieces.

Wednesday, August 24, 6 and 8 PM, Museum of Contemporary Art: An evening of independent and avant-garde dance, including Eiko & Koma’s preshow outside the MCA as well as, in the theater, celebrated 6-foot-4-inch Martha Graham impersonator Richard Move. Now there’s a towering figure.

Thursday, August 25, 7:30 PM, Auditorium Theatre: Classic dance works by modern dance masters Hubbard Street in Jiri Kylian’s Petite Mort, the Graham company in Embattled Garden, and the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company in The Legend of Ten.

Friday, August 26, 10 AM- 6 PM, Chicago Cultural Center: A day of dance films, including The Red Shoes, screened in the Claudia Cassidy Theater.

Friday, August 26, 6 PM, Museum of Contemporary Art: A lecture-demonstration featuring Lubovitch; Janet Eilber, head of the Graham troupe; Alejandro Cerrudo, HSDC’s choreographer in residence; and Bonnie De Jong of the Taylor company.

Saturday, August 27, 7:30 PM, Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park: The big finale, which includes the Joffrey, Ballet West, Martha Graham Dance Company, Paul Taylor Dance Company, NYCB guest artists Gonzalo Garcia and Tiler Peck, and River North Dance Chicago in the Chicago premiere of 9-Person Precision Ball Passing, by Charlie Moulton. 

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