Ok, so this is partially shameless self-promotion and I realize that; but I like to consider myself an opportunist when it comes to audience development! And so this entry focuses on what we all love about summer in the city: Festivals! But I’m not talking about the ones with funnel cakes, sundress sales and henna tattoos; I’m talking about the ones where you can get your (spring) and summer’s worth of art appreciation. Here are a few of my favorites, in Chicago and beyond.
A lot of festivals devoted to dance happen in the warmer months. Many cities across the country host these larger choreographic showcases to give emerging artists and companies an opportunity to present their work (sometimes in smaller time slots and sometimes within a whole evening). It’s an inexpensive way to build one’s touring resume while also networking with other working artists around the country. Wave Rising Series and DUMBO Dance Festival are two very unique festivals that happen in Brooklyn in the autumn months. Each festival, hosted by Young Soon Kim Dance Company, includes artists from across the country and offers a large variety of adjudicated dances in programs that run over several weeks. The lovely John Ryan Theater where they present much of the work was damaged during Hurricane Sandy and this festival threatens being shut down for good. For information on this East Coast Festival or how you can help save it, go to http://www.gofundme.com/SaveourSpace.
As spring approaches, dance festivals pick up steam and if you’re in the Midwest you should check out great annual festivals such as RAD Fest http://www.midwestradfest.org? (in Kalamazoo, MI) and Spring to Dance http://www.dancestlouis.org/1213_s2d.html (in St. Louis, MO). RAD is an acronym for Regional Alternative Dance Festival and the description fits the name perfectly. One can find a reconstructed Erick Hawkins work on the same bill as Bob Eisen’s experimental improvisations but everyone’s idea of “alternative” is honored and that makes for an interesting evening. Spring to Dance, is in it’s 6th season of producing dance festivals in St. Louis and continues to offer a large mix of the Midwest’s bigger budget dance companies. THODOS Dance Chicago shares the bill with Alvin Ailey from the east and Casebolt and Smith from the west. Drive to either of these festivals from Chicago and see a bit of what’s happening across the country.
Fringe Festivals are another great place to see not only some lovely theater companies but a growing group of dance companies that are working that circuit. Chicago now has it’s very own Fringe Festival that operates out of the Pilsen neighborhood http://www.chicagofringe.org/ and another Midwest favorite is the Cincinnati Fringe http://www.cincyfringe.com/. However, if you want to get a Fringe experience that is all encompassing than Minneapolis is the city to visit in August. It’s America’s largest Fringe Festival and it’s awesome http://www.fringefestival.org/.
So now you’re excited about this Festival circuit and you can’t wait to participate in an event that can get you reasonable ticket prices for dance, theater, puppetry, music and so much more right? Luckily, Chicago’s newest arts festival is right around the corner. This year marks the inaugural Pivot Multi Arts Festival that is happening throughout the Edgewater neighborhood right here in Chicago. Festival creators Julieanne Ehre and Katy Collins are showing people in their community the many ways that art impacts our lives. With headline acts such as Mucca Pazza, Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak and the Neo-Futurists you get a taste of the world’s coolest marching band, innovative modern dance and some of the best comedy improv sketches you will ever see. Pivot Arts as an organization hopes to create a, “vibrant community where unique collaborations between artists, businesses and organizations leads to the support and creation of innovative performances.” Who doesn’t like the sound of that?
And so if you’re wondering where the shameless plugging comes in, it’s here. Yes. I told you about fabulous festivals that I have had the pleasure of performing in or seeing. And yes; Pivot Multi Arts Festival will kick off their opening weekend with another headlining dance company that has been imprinting itself in all ways possible on the Chicago dance community. So please join RE|Dance Group on Thursday and Friday, June 6 & 7 at the beautiful Senn Auditorium at 8PM as we get this festival started in the spirit that it was created in! RE|Dance Group will be restaging their 2010 work, “The Lonely Visitors,” a dance work that produces a series of images that collide together to reveal both the whimsical and perfidious nature of the heart. The collection of 30 short episodes ponders the depths and desires that love holds over us. We are happy to be remounting one of our first works as a company and are honored that Pivot Arts has asked us to share this with their audiences!
So as you start putting your summer to do list together consider adding “Innovative multi arts festival” to the list and then come out and spend some time seeing all the talent coming out of Edgewater! Support your community, your local artists and your city by investing in our performance festivals so that opportunities continue to emerge for artists and audiences alike in the performing arts! Bring your families, friends and neighbors as we continue to work towards bringing thoughtful art to your communities!
For more information on RE|Dance Group’s opening weekend go to: http://pivotarts.org/project/re-dance-group/
For more information on the full Pivot Multi Arts Festival go to: http://pivotarts.org/festival/
And to learn how to contribute towards making the Festival possible go to: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/pivot-arts