Editor's Note: For more background on this milestone event for the Chicago dance community read the "Dance for Life Chicago Preview- Meet Phil Reynolds.
With the layered flounces of her bright red flamenco–style dress slightly quivering to the beat, Claudia Pizarro’s rhythmic feet dramatically gathered all eyes to the stage. With her fellow Ensemble Español dancer Nestor Corona, Pizarro had the honor of opening this year’s Dance for Life performance in Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre.
Riveted, we then saw—and heard—the similarly rhythmic feet of Trinity Irish Dance Company and Chicago Human Rhythm Project dancers join in. Flying and criss-crossing the stage, the choreography evolved into one style rhythmic dance starting a sentence with another picking up mid sentence and then the last dancer seeming to give the punctuation. A winning formula that Lane Alexander has brought to Chicago stages before, this opener was an apt metaphor for the entire evening of performance that followed. Chicago dancers of all stripes were coming together to give us a buffet of choreographic wonders.
The event is a coming together of the Chicago dance community and its champions with the goal of raising funds -- $6 million and counting since 1992—for HIV-positive and other dancers in need.
Weighty though the purpose may be, this was above all FUN, in no small part due to the charms of the event’s Second City host comedians, Carisa Barreca and Kevin Sciretta and the very good-natured audience members whom they pulled into their in between set antics.
Joffrey’s Joy also added to the opening feel of dance as play. There are the elegant Joffrey dancers as an ensemble letting their shoes drop and giving periodic shouts as they did leaps punctuated by loose hairdos. (Choreographer Alexander Ekman).
Other works performed include:
- Jessica Miller Tomlinson Choreography In Tongues (Choreography Jessica Miller Tomlinson)
- Giordano Dance Chicago Can’t Take This Away (Choreography Randy Duncan)
- Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Jardi Tancat (Choreography Nacho Duato)
- Hubbard Street Dance Chicago A Picture of You Falling (Choreography Crystal Pite)
- Visceral Dance Chicago Ruff Celts (Choreography Marguerite Donlan)
- Finale In Time (Choreography Randy Duncan), with dancers from The Cambrians, Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre, Chicago Repertory Ballet, Dance in the Parks and Porchlight Music Theatre, Danceworks Chicago, Ensemble Espanol, Giordano Dance Chicago, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Visceral Dance Chicago, Winifred Haun and Dancers and independent dancers.
The variety of dance styles is perhaps what makes this Chicago Dance for Life performance so special. Our ears go from rock to Fado. Our emotions travel from bittersweet to mirth.
Certainly Hubbard Dancer Jason Hortin looking back over his shoulder as we hear the lyrics “This is how it ends”, in what we read is his last performance as a dancer shot arrows through everyone’s heart. The almost frenetic celebration that followed in the finale seemed to be rewinding his story to where it all began.
This writer—more than a sometime tourist of Chicago’s dance world but not of it—has been mightily impressed by the palpable sense of community you find among Chicago’s choreographers and dancers when they get together. Dance for Life bottles this spirit and pours it onto the stage. Bookmark Dance For Life’s webpage for early warnings on next year’s event. It’s well worth your time and support.
For more background on this event please read "Dance For Life Chicago Preview- Meet Phil Reynolds".
All photos by Todd Rosenberg.