The small Claudia Cassidy Theater nestled on the second floor of the elegant Chicago Cultural Center was the showcase for a soupcon of Chicago’s best percussive dance talent. This preview of the fifth annual STOMPING GROUNDS festival, featured the six troupes that will participate in FREE dance events around Chicago.
STOMPING GROUNDS Festival - Six Chicago Dance Troupe
STOMPING GROUNDS is a two-month, City-wide festival presented in distinct communities throughout Chicago. Unique combinations of artists from multiple ensembles perform and teach in schools, community cultural centers. The festival ends in a grand finale at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park.
We stomp the earth to proclaim that we are here . . . and that we are here TOGETHER!
Muntu Dance Theater of Chicago Pulses with Energy
Each troupe featured a distinctive work for the showcase. Muntu Dance Theater of Chicago set a sizzling pace with syncopated drummers and dancers with boundless energy. Founded in 1972, the company performs authentic and progressive interpretations of contemporary and ancient African and African-American dance, music, and folklore
Ensemble Espanol Spanish Dance Theater Features a Lyrical Homage
Ensemble Espanol Spanish Dance Theater, featured Principal Dancer Monica Saucedo in her homage to company founder Dame Libby Komaiko. Saucedo’s lithe beauty enhanced her emotional combination of Spanish dance elements, from Flamenco to Folkloric. The Ensemble Español is in-residence at Northeastern Illinois University.
Trinity Irish Dance Company Flies Across the Floor
Trinity Irish Dance Company, usually seen with en masse, featured a solo by Dancer Ali Doughty in a folk ditty choreographed by company founder Mark Howard. Howard’s uniquely Irish-American company was the birthplace of progressive Irish dance which opened new avenues of artistic expression that led directly to commercial productions such as “Riverdance”.
Natya Dance Theater Combines Color with Discipline
Natya Dance Theater, preserves and perpetuates Bharata Natyam dance in all its classical rigor. Their contemporary interpretations incorporate dynamic body movement, rhythmic footwork, usually with ankle bells, hand gestures and facial expressions to convey meaning and emotion. Their mesmerizing performance was enhanced by brilliant costumes of orange, purple and gold. Pleated aprons of plaid woven in the three colors, spread across the dancers pleated pantaloons, creating new images with each dance move.
Mexican Folk Dance Company of Chicago Coyly Performs a Duet
Mexican Folk Dance Company of Chicago featured a simple duet, La Chilena, originally, as its name implies, an import from Chile. It is danced throughout Mexico with many local cultural adaptations. The company’s mission is to perpetuate and showcase the splendor of Mexico's traditional dance, music, dress and history; and to cultivate and promote public awareness and appreciation of this rich cultural heritage.
Stone Soup Rhythms - a Rousing Finale
Stone Soup Rhythms is the dance ensemble of Chicago Human Rhythm Project, the producer of STOMPING GROUND. With tap routines choreographed by Artist in Residence Daniel Borak, they left tap enthusiasts craving more of their intricate, impeccable syncopation and coordination.
A selection of these companies will perform at each venue throughout the Festival. STOMPING GROUNDS is highly recommended for all with an interest in percussive dance. Children will be entranced if parents spend a bit of time exposing them to the dance traditions they will experience. Just look up the companies at their websites or visit the library and browse through cultural dance books.
When and Where:
Garfield Park Conservation, Wednesday, April 3
Featuring CHRP’s Stone Soup Rhythms, Natya Dance Theatre, Mexican Folk Dance Company, and Ensemble Espanol Spanish Dance Theater.
Beverly Arts Center, Saturday, April 13
Featuring CHRP’s Stone Soup Rhythms, Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago, Trinity Irish Dance Company, and Ensemble Espanol Spanish Dance Theater.
National Museum of Mexican Art, Saturday, April 27
Featuring Mexican Folk Dance Company, Natya Dance Theatre, and CHRP’s Stone Soup Rhythms
DuSable Museum of African American History, Saturday, May 11
Featuring Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago, CHRP’s Stone Soup Rhythms, and Mexican Folk Dance Company.
Irish American Heritage Center, Saturday, May 18
Featuring Trinity Irish Dance Company and Trinity Irish Dance Ensemble, Natya Dance Theatre, CHRP’s Stone Soup Rhythms, and Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago.
Harris Theater in Chicago, Friday, May 31
Featuring all of the troupes. Ticket price tba.
For more information and to reserve your seats, please visit Chicago Human Rhythm website.
All photos by Paul Crisanti
Reviewer Ann Boland is committed to Chicago theater. Involved in the audience since the early 80’s, she’s witnessed firsthand the rise of our theater scene, our exceptional local talent, and the vigor of each new generation. Ann handles public relations for authors and works on programs to help seniors with neurological movement disorders. Please visit her website for more information.
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