Come see a lot of people dancing 

Two of this year's Chicago Dancing Festival entries fill the stage with performers

Teenagers practicing the nearly martial onslaughts of Touch of Soul

Teenagers practicing the nearly martial onslaughts of Touch of Soul

After School Matters

It's no surprise that audiences generally mob Chicago Dancing Festival events: they're free and good. But this year the CDF will be packing 'em in onstage, too—at least for two dances. The fest commissioned New York-based choreographer Nicholas Leichter to create a piece for 36 kids age 14 to 18, enrolled in the hip-hop culture program run by Chicago nonprofit After School Matters. Set to Estelle's "Wait a Minute (Just a Touch)" and Manu Dibango's 1972 proto-disco song, "Soul Makossa," Leichter's Touch of Soul herds teenagers into nearly martial onslaughts. Yet there's no herd mentality here. The final section features the whole group in a veritable avalanche of personality and talent.

Touch of Soul performs on the opening night of the festival at the Harris Theater, where tickets are wait-listed, and then again the following Saturday at Millennium Park's Pritzker Pavilion, where all you have to do is show up. Those same nights you can catch the CDF's other stage-thronging event: Bolero Chicago, featuring some 80 Chicagoans of all ages and set to Maurice Ravel's greatest hit. Larry Keigwin of New York's Keigwin + Company has been setting his Bolero on locals around the country since 2007, adapting it so as to hold up a mirror to each place.

All told, this year's fest includes three evenings of performance by a dozen amazing groups, a day of dance films at the Museum of Contemporary Art, a panel discussion on the state of dance in Chicago, also at the MCA, and salsa and mambo dancing under the stars in Grant Park. Check the CDF website for details.

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More by Laura Molzahn

Agenda Teaser

Galleries & Museums
Tseng Kwong Chi: Performing for the Camera Northwestern University Block Museum of Art
September 17
Performing Arts
Don Quichotte Civic Opera House
November 23

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