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SUMMER DANCE FEATURE Ballet to boogie: Summer dance in Chicago
By Johnny Nevin, Kristi Licera and Jonathan Abarbanel

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Over the last 35 years, Chicago has developed into one helluva dance town, and things don't slow down in the summer as some dance events move outdoors, just as theater performances do.

The chronological listings below are only a sampling of what dance has to offer this summer. Far more complete information is available at, a comprehensive dance info source. Or, you might check out, the knowledgeable blog by this story's co-writers, Johnny Nevin and Kristi Licera.

—Pivot Arts Festival, May 31-June 9—A "hip-hopera" by Chicago Fringe Opera and BraveSoul Movement, Search Party by Ellen Kilmurray, works-in-progress by Po'Chop, Courtney Mackedanz, Jenni Lamb and Ethan Parcell are just a few events classified as "dance" in this cutting-edge, eclectic, genre-defying annual festival which also has categories labeled theater, music, kids, celebrations and more ... and each one is a world premiere. Locations vary, mainly in Edgewater. Tickets: $10-$15;

—Trifecta Dance Collective, Mosaic and In.Grained, June 1, Athenaeum Theatre—Trifecta Dance Collective completes its fourth season with a collaborative evening of dance and theatre, with special guests Cocodaco Dance Project and documentary theatre company Erasing the Distance. The Athenaeum, of course, is one of the city's premiere dance venues, and a great place to see dance. Tickets: $20;

—Concert Dance Inc., Ravinia Festival, Bennet Gordon Hall, June 1-2—Iconic choreographer Venetia Stifler and her Concert Dance Inc. continue a long association with the Ravinia Festival. Their 2019 program offers a setting of Aaron Copland colorful tone poem "El Salon Mexico," plus a Stifler world premiere, "Dances with Words and Music," which takes inspiration from another legendary dancer, the late Ruth Page. Tickets: $12; ( no lawn seating ), or

—Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Summer Series, June 6-9, Harris Theater—Everybody knows this company: It's world-famous, the members are good and belong to Chicago, and it has long have been one of Chicago's most multicultural troupes! Some of us are old enough to remember when Hubbard Street founder Lou Conte was a chorus boy at the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse. The troupe now is under artistic director Glenn Edgerton, who has selected works by Alejandro Cerrudo, Crystal Pite and Brian Brooks for this program. Tickets: $25-$110;

—Chicago Tap Theatre ( CTT ), Saving the World, Stage 773, June 8-30—It's the world premiere of a story show, a tap-dance opera concerning our ever-more-frequent natural disasters and those who seem to profit from them, performed to live music. Imagine tap/rhythm dancers as tornados and tsunamis! CTT is an imaginative, high-energy, high-quality group of artists that is always great to see. Tickets: $30-$40

—Natya Dance Theatre, The Internal Geometry, Links Hall, June 14-16—Artistic director Hema Rajagopalan—founder of the company 45 years ago!— creates a world premiere, using classic Indian dance-theater techniques called Bharata Natyam, gifted to humanity by the Hindu gods. Natya Dance Theatre has credits ranging from the Salt Lake City Olympics, to New York's World Music Institute, to performing with Yo-Yo Ma. Tickets: $10-$40;

—Ensemble Espanol Spanish Dance Theater, Flamenco Passion 2019, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, June 14-16—This highly regarded troupe soldiers on following the February death of founder Libby Komaiko, who founded the company in 1975. Ensemble Español performances are visually stunning, and explore a different but engaging style of choreography built from Flamenco based movement, all accompanied by live music, often vocal as well as instrumental in the broad Flemenco tradition. Tickets: $20-$50;

—Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre, American Catracho, Studio5 ( sic ), Evanston, June 26—Life partners Joe Cerqua and Wilfredo Rivera have been expanding artistic limits for 20 years now, blending exceptional dancers ( Rivera's lookout ) with great fusion music ( Cerqua's lookout ). This one-off is part of CRDT's Inside/Out series of works in process, offering performance excerpts from a major work ( three years in development ) to premiere this fall. Tickets: $8 advance, $15 door;

—Chicago Summer Dance, Spirit of the Music Garden, Grant Park, June 27-Aug.24—It's your turn to boogie ( and waltz, polka, samba, fox trot, jitterbug, mambo, etc. ) as the City of Chicago offers two months of outdoor dancin' to 48 different live bands and DJs, Wednesday-Sunday nights, all on a restored vintage 4,900-square-foot dance floor! Admission is free. Music schedule:

—Dance in the Parks, July 19-27—There will be dance performances in 14 city parks, from La Villita in South Lawndale ( July 9 ) to Armour Square in Chinatown ( July 20 ) to Indian Boundary Park in West Rogers Park, all at 6:30 p.m. This is the easiest dance concert ever, with performances by dancers who's company seasons doesn't extend through the summer. They're outside, easy to watch and FREE ( ! ), and you can come and go as you like. It's a great way for a family to sample some dance, and maybe it's a pretty cool first date, too. Info: DanceInTheParks.og

—Dance for Life, Auditorium Theatre, Aug. 17—This 28th annual fundraiser, presented by Chicago Dancer United, brings together a truly amazing range of Chicago's best dance troupes and best dancers in an always-outstanding night of dance for a great community. FYI: There also are Dance For Life events June 23 at the Baton and July 28 at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Buy the most expensive ticket you can afford! $15-$650;

—Chicago Dance Crash, Lil Pine Nut, Ruth Page Center for the Arts, Aug. 23-31—This is the world premiere of a new story show—which is the current dance term for a longer piece with a narrative line—choreographed by artistic director Jessica Deahr and KC Bevis, to a heavily hip-hop recorded score. Tickets: $25; .

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