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SUMMER DANCE SPECIAL Dance heats up this summer
by Joanna Furnans

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Although summer doesn't officially begin for another couple of weeks, the 2017 Chicago summer dance season wastes no time getting started. Here's what should fill your dance card this season:

—The free grand-finale performance of the Chicago Human Rhythm Project's third annual "STOMPING GROUNDS" series will celebrate five of Chicago's percussive dance companies. This is an exciting opportunity to see works from the Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater, the Mexican Folkloric Dance Company of Chicago, the Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago, the Trinity Irish Dance Company, and the Chicago Human Rhythm Project all on the same night. ( 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 2, at the Studebaker Theater, 410 S. Michigan Ave. )

—Red Clay Dance's annual spring concert, "The Art of Resilience," will feature two world premieres by founding artistic director, Vershawn Sanders-Ward, alongside repertory favorites. The evening is "devoted to complex and intersecting narratives connected to identity. Themes of resistance, community, power and fortitude, womanhood, and the right to self-determination are given narrative in five complementary works infused with Red Clay's signature Afro-contemporary style." ( 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 3, and 3:30 p.m. Sunday, June 4, at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St.; )

—The fifth annual Pivot Arts Festival will spotlight site-specific dance performances by the mesmerizing and thorough Ayako Kato/Art Union Humanscape in an exploration of "movement and stillness" and Synapse Arts presenting its new work "soften every edge". The following weekend will highlight Same Planet Performance Project's production of "Honey," a contemporary dance interpretation of disco-era eroticism. Although problematic in its singular point of view, the dancing is divine. ( 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday, June 4, and 6 p.m. Saturday, June 10, at FLATstudio, 1136 W. Wilson Ave.; )

—SheFest ( formerly LezFest ) promises to be a pride-revving performance celebration of multiple "experiences of queer femininity." Held at the Pride Arts Center ( PAC ) and hosted by Pride Films and Plays, this event has a dense and diverse line-up of performers including dance artist Jessica Martin, who's new work aptly reminds audiences that differences in appearance, mobility, and sexual orientation are far more complex than meets the eye. ( 7:30 p.m. Monday, June 12, 4139 N. Broadway; )

—The "JIM"—an innovative new summer program for adult dance and somatic practices—is the brainchild of dancer and producer Jessica Marasa, in collaboration with the Chicago Moving Company. In addition to offering a wide range of classes, workshops and community discussions open to dancers and non-dancers alike, this three-week series will include informal Friday night performances by local and visiting dancemakers. Most notably, Chicago dancer Darrell Jones and NYC-based Michelle Boulé will come together to perform improvised research relating to a larger work they are making with the legendary Bebe Miller. This is a rare opportunity to witness some of the best contemporary dancers in the field practice their craft. ( 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 30, Hamlin Park Fieldhouse, 3035 N. Hoyne Ave.; )

—Thodos Dance Chicago produces its final "New Dances" series featuring fresh work by eight company ensemble members flexing their choreographic and directorial muscles for a change. ( 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 15, and 3 p.m. Sunday, July 16, at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave; )

—It remains to be seen whether the Chicago Dance Crash are "friends of Dorothy," but this summer the company is serving up a "hip-hop origin story of the yellow brick road" with its new production, "The Bricklayers of Oz," for the company's 15th-anniversary season. ( 8 p.m. July 28-29, 3 p.m. July 30 and 8 p.m. Aug. 4-5, Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St.; )

—August brings the annual Dance For Life fundraiser and performance event that Chicago Dancers United will host. In addition to the partner companies that perform each year ( Giordano Dance Chicago, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and The Joffrey Ballet ) this 26th-anniversary performance will include works by Jessica Miller Tomlinson, Visceral Dance Chicago and Randy Duncan, among others. Proceeds from the event go directly to the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and The Dancers' Fund, which supports dancers in the community as they manage critical health issues. ( 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19, at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Pkwy.; )

—In its second year, "SET FREE" will hold the culminating performances of its five-month artist residency with an eclectic mix of talented and thought-provoking dance and performance artists. This year's artists include J'Sun Howard making a contemporary dance trio about "black boy joy;" BraveSoulMovement ( David "BRAVEMONK" Haywood and Kelsa "K-Soul" Robinson ) using street-dance vocabularies to delineate space for dialog and delight; Lindsey Barlag Thornton and ensemble in a devised dance/theater performance; and Jessica Marasa and Katie Ernst in an exploration of improvised continuity. ( 7 p.m. Thursday-Sunday, Aug. 24-27 at Links Hall, 3111 N. Western Ave.; )

—Finally, end your summer on a body-positive up note with the raucous, radical and racy "Fly Honey Show." Created and directed by choreographer Erin Kilmurray and produced by the artist collaborative The Inconvenience, the show has a bit of a cult following in town. Known for promoting "self-love" and its sex-positive performance, the show is a full-on cabaret celebrating all manner of shapes, shades, genders and genres. ( Aug. 10-Sept. 2 at The Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave.; )

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