During summers in Chicago, festivals are king.
Dance is no exception; several multi-performance series in venues all over the citymany of which are freeoffer great opportunities for dance newbies to become familiar with all this city has to offer. For those ready to sink their teeth into the scene, a number of fantastically fun performances from Chicago's mainstay dance companies pepper the summer months as well.
Presented as part of the city's Night Out in the Parks summer series, Dance in the Parks ( DIP ) returns for 16 free outdoor performances at parks all over the city July 13-Aug. 7.
In addition to exceptional dancers featured in works by former Ballet West principle dancer Tom Mattingly, River North Dance Chicago veteran Hanna Bricston, Visceral Dance Chicago's Karl Watson and Lucky Plush Productions' Michel Rodriguez Cintra, among others, DIP performances feature youth performance partners and exclusive ticket giveaways for a variety of professional dance concerts this fall. Parks may have alternative indoor locations in case of inclement weather. More information is available at danceintheparks.org .
The Chicago Dancing Festival's free performance series at Chicago's top venues returns for its 10th anniversary season Aug. 23-27. As a companion to last season's program devoted to women choreographers, "Modern Men" will feature Joshua Beamish, Silas Riener & Rashaun Mitchell, Brian Brooks, Rennie Harris and Aszure Barton.
Festival favorites return, including local companies The Joffrey Ballet and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, plus the return of audience favorite "Episode 31" by Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman. As always, tickets are free but must be acquired in advance by phone or in person. The exception is the final performance Aug. 27 at Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. More details about the festival, including ticket release dates, will be available early in June at chicagodancingfestival.com .
The Chicago Human Rhythm Project's 26th annual "Rhythm World" tap festival boasts an impressive line up of master classes, workshops and performances July 5-24. The Museum of Contemporary Art hosts the festival's crowning event called "JUBA! Masters of Tap and Percussive Dance" July 20-23 in the Edlis Neeson Theater at 220 E. Chicago Ave.
Three distinct programs feature foot drummers spanning the globe under the generational theme "Root and Branch," which highlights up-and-comers alongside the art form's greatest legends. Tickets are $25-35, available beginning May 25 at MCAChicago.org . Shows often sell out; early purchase is advised. Additional information about all "Rhythm World" events is listed at chicagotap.org .
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago closes its season with the Summer Series, an encore of the highly acclaimed "The Art of Falling." Running weekends June 9-19 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph St., this ingenious collaboration between Hubbard Street and The Second City is about as good as it gets. If you missed it the first time, now's your chance; if you didn't, then you already know you should see this laugh-out-loud super show again. This performance is recommended for ages 14 and older. Tickets start at $25, available at hubbardstreetdance.com .
Thodos Dance Chicago returns to the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave., for its celebrated in-house choreographic showcase "New Dances." Guest artist Shannon Alvis joins members of the company for an evening of ten new works performed by company members and guest artists. Artistic director Melissa Thodos often adopts several of the works from Chicago's oldest dancer-as-choreographer series into the company's rep for the following season. Tickets are $14-40; more information at ThodosDanceChicago.org .
Giordano Dance Chicago closes its season at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Pkwy., as the final installment of the theater's "Made in Chicago" series. Highlights include works from throughout this season such as Brock Clawson's film noir-inspired "Sneaky Pete," Ray Leeper's nod to Broadway called "Feelin' Good Sweet," and a full-company revival of Gus Giordano's classic "Sing, Sing, Sing." Also on the program is one of Gus' personal favorites: "Can't Take This Away," choreographed by beloved teacher and choreographer Randy Duncan and set to live music. Tickets start at $28, at auditoriumtheatre.org .
Chicago Tap Theatre ( CTT ) presents its season finale with "We Will Tap You: A Tap Dance Celebration to the Music of Queen," on Saturday, June 25, at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave. In perhaps their most ambitious undertaking to date, artistic director Mark Yonally and music director Kurt Schweitz tap out our favorite Freddy Mercury hits for this not-to-be-missed Pride Week tribute with help from tap choreographers Rich Ashworth and Kirsten Uttich, aerialist Jeremy Plummer ( yes, aerial tap! ), and special guests Mattrick Swayze, the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus, Lakeside Pride Marching Band and the Chicago Spirit Brigade. Tickets are $23-35, available at ChicagoTapTheatre.com
Finally, save Aug. 20 for the 25th anniversary of Dance for Life Chicago, an annual gala and performance that began as a response to the HIV/AIDS crisis within Chicago's dance community. Dance for Life has expanded into the larger service organization Chicago Dancers United, which now produces events and initiatives throughout the year and operates The Dancers' Fund, an emergency assistance program for professionals in the community facing health crises including, but not limited to HIV/AIDS.
The silver-anniversary gala and performance include appearances by Giordano Dance Chicago, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, the Joffrey Ballet, Chicago Dance Crash and Visceral Dance Chicago, emceed by The Second City's Carisa Barreca and Tim Mason. Tickets to the dinner gala at Hilton Chicago's Grand Ballroom, 720 S. Michigan, are $250-600, with the performance following at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Pkwy. Tickets may be purchased for only the Auditorium performance for $15-75, available at ChicagoDancersUnited.org .