Just dance: Monthlong celebration keeps body moving, grooving

By Kendrah Villiesse

From ballet to jazz, hip-hop to modern, the dance options in Chicago are endless. To celebrate this diversity, April is Chicago Dance Month, which will include a series of events offering a glimpse at Chicago’s diverse and exciting dance scene.

More than 70 citywide events will be held through April 30 and are hosted by See Chicago Dance, a nonprofit that provides services to dance organizations and enthusiasts. Most events are suitable for all ages except for late-night events, according to Heather Hartley, executive director of See Chicago Dance. 

“Chicago Dance Month is just a way to highlight and promote all of the tremendous dance work that is going on in the city,” Hartley said. “We are shining a spotlight on all of that activity that is occurring and encouraging patrons and people that are curious to go and see dance.” 

This  year will be See Chicago Dance’s sixth Chicago Dance Month since the organization’s 2005 formation, according to Hartley. 

Events will include open studios, pop-up performances and discounted tickets on select shows. The festival will end with a scavenger hunt April 30. The monthlong celebration will feature an estimated 91 organizations in partnership with See Chicago Dance, Hartley added. 

 “The Chicago dance community is incredibly robust,” she said.  “If you are in Chicago and want to experience culture or explore a new form, it is almost certain that someone here in the city is doing work that is coming from all different points of view.” 

One of the organizations participating is Giordano’s Dance Chicago, which is also celebrating its 55th anniversary as a dance company. 

Michael McStraw, executive director of Giordano Dance Chicago and president of the Board of Directors at See Chicago Dance, said the most exciting part of Chicago Dance Month is the opportunity to experience the richness the dance community has to offer. 

“The fact that Chicago can say we have a strong enough community to be able to occupy an entire month’s worth of activities says a lot,” McStraw said. “We have one of the strongest dance communities in the country. There is a collaborative spirit across  all of the organizations here.” 

Tania Castroverde Moskalenko, CEO of the Auditorium Theater of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Parkway, said many mid-sized dance companies face challenges. She added that the Chicago Dance Festival has been supportive in helping the companies stay relevant. 

“As a community [and] as a city, we need to remain conscious of what challenges those companies face so we can be supportive and ensure they have the resources they need to remain relevant and able to do their work,” she said. 

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