Skip to content

Posts from the ‘M.A.D.D. Respect’ Category

30
Dec

Jumaane Taylor Is One Of SeeChicagoDance Best of 2016

2015_726_arc_jumaanetaylor-25809

SeeChicagoDance Best of 2016

If having a tough time choosing the high points of Chicago’s 2016 dance season is any indication of the growing strength of Chicago as a major center for dance in America, then 2016 was certainly a fruitful year.  So many performances, from small, independent artists to the large, established companies, stay with me, including Thodos Dance Chicago’s “Sono’s Journey,” Ron De Jesus’s “Isis and Osiris,” and the Auditorium Theatre’s “Made In Chicago” performances of The Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s “Stomping Grounds,” and the stellar Giordano Dance Chicago. Ballet Chicago and The Joffrey Studio Company made striking contributions showcasing rosters of up-and-coming pre-professional dancers, and Cirqua Rivera, Lucky Plush, and The Seldoms continued their bold and commendable forays into multi-disciplinary  work. Sadly, among the many triumphs, we bid a sad farewell to River North and lamented the conclusion of The Chicago Dancing Festival after ten wonderful years of world class dance free to the public. Giordano Dance Chicago in “Sing Sing Sing”

 

Pushed to choose my absolute highlights for the year, I’ve singled out five events that stand out for the uniqueness of their contributions to and enriching influence on the Chicago dance community.

 

1. DANCE FOR LIFE (AUG. 20)

Dance For Life once again celebrated the vitality, solidarity, and humanity of the Chicago dance community with stunning performances from five different Chicago companies, ten contributing companies, and fourteen independent artists. This unique event stands as a shining monument to the power of art to unite a city behind a humanitarian cause by showcasing the rich creative life and talent that thrive here.  Dance for Life has recently expanded as Chicago Dancers United, supporting dance community professionals dealing with HIV/AIDS and other critical health issues. Of special note, Giordano Dance Chicago transformed nostalgia for mid-century classic jazz into something fresh, explosive, and totally “now”  with “Sing Sing Sing,” an effervescent toast to the legacy of its founding artistic director, Gus Giordano. The sound of bells illuminated the brittle geometry of Visceral Dance Chicago artistic director Nick Pupillo’s “Vital,” masterfully danced by this accomplished troupe. Breathtaking lifts brought whoops from the audience, as the dance built to its inspired ending, catching us off-guard in a daring group plunge. Hubbard Street’s reprise of last winter’s “Solo Echo” (2012) by Crystal Pite captivated all over again with the stop-action freeze-frames of runners arrested at the peak of urgency, fingers spread as if to say, “Wait!” Randy Duncan’s premiere, “Depth of Light,” brought the gala night to a rousing conclusion with an ensemble of dancers culled from six different companies, along with nine independent dance artists. Breath and breathing infused the piece with a sense of life’s essence.Hubbard Street in Crystal Pite’s “Solo Echo”

 

2. MACARTHUR FELLOWS (SEPT. 16)

We could have been witnessing the birth of angels at the touch of their lips in Susan Marshall’s “Kiss” (1987), opening “An Evening of Dance With MacArthur Fellows” at the Harris Theater.  Hubbard Street’s Jason Hortin and Jessica Tong, exquisite in Marshall’s poetry of weightlessness, were celestial bodies whose orbits intersected at that inevitable moment. An entire drama of relationship unfolded in a dance of  weightlessness and gravity,

The concert underscored Chicago’s bounty as the beneficiary of private philanthropy that has delivered the gift of world-class dance to our doorstep, free and open to the public. Celebrating 35 years of grant making across the arts, sciences, and social agencies, the John T. and Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation, based in Chicago, sponsored an unprecedented retrospective of five MacArthur Choreography Fellows—from Merce Cunningham, (MacArthur Fellow, class of 1985)—to the most recent—Michelle Dorrance, (MacArthur Fellow, class of 2015). The program was testimony to the impact private philanthropy can have on artists’ ability to flourish at pivotal junctures in their careers, and on the lasting contribution of their work to the cultural fabric of civilization, Chicago’s in particular. Susan Marshall’s “The Kiss”

 

 

3. WHEELDON/JOFFREY NUTCRACKER (DEC. 10)

The Joffrey Ballet, under the inspired direction of Ashley Wheeter, took the bold step of setting aside Robert Joffrey’s decades-old and highly successful production of “The Nutcracker” and commissioning ballet enfant terrible Christopher Wheeldon to fashion a Nutcracker of distinctly Chicago flavor.  It seemed like a big risk, both financially and artistically. To the credit of Wheeldon, Wheeter, and the entire Joffrey operation, the risk paid off in a production that was visually thrilling, theatrically exciting, and a real contribution to Chicago history. A dramatically energized Joffrey ensemble was at its theatrical best, with plenty of virtuoso dancing to dazzle the most dye-hard of Nutcracker dévotés.Christopher Wheeldon’s “Nutcracker”

 

4. HUBBARD STREET FALL SEASON (NOV. 17)

In a program of sublime dancing and riveting content, Alejandro Cerrudo’s “Niebla,” (Fog), stands out. Expanding on his exploration of presence and disappearance with laser projections that created pyramids and planes, Cerrudo used the shapes to define the dancers’ existence as they emerged from obscurity into light and vanished into darkness. Cerrudo’s choreography finds the drama of the the music in an exploration that pays attention to its ebb and flow, its tempos and phrasing, without adhering to its structure, and this is a marvelous achievement!Alejandro Cerrudo’s “Niebla”

 

5. CHICAGO TAP THEATRE (JUNE 25)

Tap Dance and tragedy don’t usually find themselves in the same room, but Chicago Tap Theatre’s new tap drama, “Time Steps,” located the two at the tricky intersection of entertainment and serious theatre. If you had a chance to go back in time and re-live your most defining moment over again as often as you wished, what would you change? What could you change, and what would it cost you? Heady questions for a tap dance show. Under the choreographic helm of CTT artistic Director Mark Yonally, the company has never shied away from the incongruous, and in fact thrives on it. The production takes the challenge of mining the riches of a dance idiom historically associated with light-hearted entertainment, and of harnessing those riches in the service of serious storytelling in a theatrical context. Yonally’s tap choreography uniquely tackles the theatrical mandates of character development, relationship, dramatic intention, dialog, and plot in a unique contribution to the idiom.Time Steps

 

 

Three Exceptional 2016 Dance Events on the “Storefront” Scene

By Lauren Warnecke

A Chicago Dancemakers Forum (CDF) Lab Artist Grant is a coveted prize for any choreographer, and CDF’s process-over-product mission has benefitted a growing number of performance artists in the past several years. 2015 Lab Artist Ginger Krebs was largely viewed as a performance artist until “Buffer Overrun,” which took a sharp turn to the right that is moving her work in a refreshingly dancey direction. I had the pleasure of multiple viewings throughout the work’s creative process, and again at its premiere at the Storefront Theater. “Buffer Overrun’s” success owes a lot to its cast (Sabrina Baranda, Elise Cowin and Joanna Furnans, with Krebs completing the quartet), but the structure of the thing is what was so fascinating. There are aspects of “Buffer Overrun” that are wholly, surprisingly conventional, but true to a Ginger Krebs work, those conventions were tilted and turned on their heads. Performed on a raked stage, the work was viewed from the side, instead of facing uphill, and four playground-style scooters advance slowly downhill as the dancers brake with their toes, posed like distinguished, disinterested ladies. The beginning is slow and methodical, challenging its audience’s patience as it builds gradually over more than an hour – like a contemporary “Song of the Wanderers” in gray and black tones. “Buffer Overrun’s” build – a quantitative maze of log rolls and circular walking patterns and a series of mesmerizing, brilliantly patterns gestures mined from the floor of a stock exchange – is more enchanting than its climax, but the February premiere still resonates nonetheless.Buffer Overrun

The 26th edition of Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP)’s Rhythm World Festival ended how it always does: with a culminating event in July at the Museum of Contemporary Art called JUBA! This year, simplicity ruled in the evening’s first half with a series of back-to-back solos from hoofers Ayodele Casel, Nico Rubio, Maud Arnold and Cartier Williams. It was the second half, however, that really stuck out as some of the best dance this year. Choreographed by M.A.D.D. Rhythms’ Jumaane Taylor, “Supreme Love” is inspired by jazz legend John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.” The long-form score takes tap to new places, invoking inspired improvisations from its performers that verge on the tap equivalent of speaking in tongues. “Supreme Love” is chafing and challenging, unbearable at moments, but its ability to muddy the rhythmic waters and come to a resolution each time is uniquely – supremely – satisfying. It’s worth mentioning that long-time CHRP and M.A.D.D. Rhythms performer Ian Berg is playing in the same space as Taylor; his “From the Top” premiered a month later at Stage 773 with several performers in common and a similar knack for balancing chaos with resolution. Berg’s work, for now, feels a bit more gratuitous than Taylor’s, but is worth seeing all the same.Rhythm World Festival

Khecari transformed a north side Park District into an ethereal bed & breakfast for “The Retreat,” an intimate overnight performance testing the boundaries of the body and the mind. For the performers, the looming question was whether the body can produce movement without voluntary control, or whether it’s possible to achieve a truly embodied state. Invited to lounge, sleep, and dream, onlookers were excused from participating fully in this investigation, so the hard work of being an audience member at a contemporary dance show (I’m not being facetious) was stripped away from the experience. Our task was to separate from daily distractions, to relinquish our phones and submit to relaxation as a means of transformation. Guests (there were about ten of us that night) were taken care of in the usual way, with refreshments, writing supplies, a sleeping nest and plenty of fodder for reflection about dance, time, sensation, attention, and community.

23
Dec

Bril Barrett Is One Of The Chicago Tribune’s Chicagoans of the Year 2016

M.A.D.D. Rhythms’ Bril Barrett is a tap evangelist

Laura Molzahn

Laura MolzahnChicago Tribune

Over the years, grass-roots warrior Bril Barrett has spread the gospel of tap every chance he gets, making his own way but also paving the way for others. The organization he founded in 2001, M.A.D.D. (“Making a Difference Dancing”) Rhythms, has played a huge role in that: This nationally known performance troupe also hosts a youth dance ensemble, an After School Matters apprenticeship program and a tap academy for youngsters at the Harold Washington Cultural Center, where it’s an arts partner. It offers free or donation-only tap jams all around the city, and in his spare time, Barrett teaches “Grown & Sexy” adult tap at the American Rhythm Center downtown.

Born and raised in North Lawndale, Barrett notes dryly that his family “was not economically privileged.” So his working mom, who wanted to keep him out of trouble, enrolled him at age 4 in free dance classes at the Better Boys Foundation, where he went almost every day with his cousins, who also lived in the household. When one of his BBF teachers, Carlton Smith, moved to a North Side studio, he offered Barrett a discounted class rate: $5, which the boy sometimes paid by “scraping up pennies.” When he attended the Sammy Dyer School of the Theatre, his uncle paid the tuition, and his auntie took him to class.

“So when people say it takes a village — truly in my case I have so much appreciation and love for the village,” Barrett says.

One of his earliest mentors was Mr. Taps (aka Ayrie Easley King III), a subway performer he started joining underground at age 11. “I didn’t really get into jazz till Mr. Taps,” Barrett says. “He introduced me to Count Basie — if it was swing, he was dancing to it.” Mr. Taps showed video of classic acts like the Nicholas Brothers and the Four Step Brothers during “footage nights,” every Friday at his house. “We’d make popcorn,” Barrett says. “Me and my cousin used to try to copy all the routines.”

Through Chicago on Tap in summer 1994, Barrett met Savion Glover, who became a friend. It also brought him to Lane Alexander of the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, who gave Barrett’s first group, Steppin’ Out, its first performance opportunity. In 1998, Barrett joined the North American tour of “Riverdance,” and in 2000 its international tour.

“I never set out to be a teacher,” Barrett says. “I wanted to perform.” But family circumstances proved the seed of education-oriented M.A.D.D. Rhythms. While he was touring with “Riverdance,” his mother let him know that his younger brother “was starting to hang with a tough crowd,” Barrett says. Aiming to share his love of tap — and keep his little brother close — Barrett started tap jams for talented boys at the Sammy Dyer school in the late ’90s. Then his little sister, Star Dixon, asked, “How come it’s just boys?” He had no good answer, and she joined.

In 2001, Barrett turned his impromptu jammers into M.A.D.D. Rhythms, headquartered at the South Shore Cultural Center. In 2010, the company and the teaching academy made the Harold Washington Cultural Center their home.

The M.A.D.D. Rhythms style, often described as funky, has become better-known through Barrett’s former students, now gaining fame. Star Dixon had great success with her untitled work for 10 at the Audible Odyssey show in May and performed with Dorrance Dance at the Kennedy Center in October. Nico Rubio has taught and performed nationally and internationally. And Jumaane Taylor, often cited as an influence by dancers his own age, created the superb evening-length “Supreme Love” in fall 2015 and gave it a triumphant reprise last summer at the Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s “JUBA!” performances.

The M.A.D.D. style grew out of Barrett’s many music influences. “I grew up loving everything my mom loved,” he says. “And she was into soul music, old-school R&B and a little jazz — she loved Al Jarreau and Stevie Wonder. Then I fell in love with hip-hop when I was around 11. I used to walk around with my Walkman that I bought from street performing with Mr. Taps, listening to nothing but hip-hop.” Later, Barrett learned about world music — the rhythms of the Irish bodhran and the Indian tabla — through “Riverdance.”

In fact, tap might be considered an avenue to world peace — or at least racial integration, which is sometimes just a matter of getting people together in the same room. “Tap is why I know as many people outside my community as I know inside it,” Barrett says. On the other side of the coin, he’s now one of the first black people that white students interact with, he says.

Nevertheless, “Tap remains divided in some ways because people are not real about the history. The people who created my art form weren’t even considered human beings at one point,” Barrett notes. “And given the treatment of African-Americans when tap dance was gaining its roots, people started to impose their own history on it, to ‘legitimize’ it.”

MEET ALL OF THE TRIBUNE’S CHICAGOANS OF THE YEAR

But when you get past that divide, to the root of the art form being expression, “it can be wonderful,” Barrett says. “Horrible things are happening in this country, unarmed black men being killed. But if I go to a class, all this other stuff goes away. Tap is my sanity, it’s kept me from boiling over many times. I wish everybody had an option to get that out of their systems, to hold conversations with people who don’t look like them. Tap is a perfect way — not the only way — to bring racial healing.”

Laura Molzahn is a freelance critic.

ctc-arts@chicagotribune.com

11
Oct

Jumaane Taylor @ Twin Cities Tap Fest

14500413_10209234349991770_8761277108759371986_o

Classes. Concerts. Community.

The Twin Cities Tap Festival brings together local tap dancers of all ages  with national artists to share and learn about rhythm, music, and the art of tap dance.

Tap dancers of all ages and ability levels – enhance  your technique, expand your creativity, and make new friends when you register for classes with top local and national tap artists as well as attend world-class performances highlighting the diverse and ever-evolving art of tap dance.

REGISTRATION

5
Sep

Register Now For The 2016/17 Season

MADD RHYTHMS Brochure FAll 2016 HWCCMADD RHYTHMS Brochure FAll 2016 ARC MADD RHYTHMS Brochure FAll 2016 ARC

17
Aug

Tristan Bruns & Ian Berg Premier New Choreography In THRUST!

13516523_844283199037909_6893175302484813305_n

THRUST! is the opening performance of Tapman Productions’ 2016-2017 season. This unique double feature of tap and modern dance showcases the work of long-time Tapman Productions collaborators Tristan Bruns (tap) and Kate O’Hanlon (modern) and special guest choreographer Ian Berg (tap). The pieces performed are created specifically for this thrust (three-sided) stage with original music by Trainwreck Symphony and composer Carolyn O’Brien, and new arrangements of popular music.

We are pulling out all the stops for this performance, and we need your help to make it happen. For every $15 donation you make on our GoFundMe page, you’ll receive a ticket to the THRUST! performance of your choice. It’s a great way to assist our efforts to bring you this mash up show of epic proportions AND save yourself a little dough!

DONATE HERE: www.gofundme.com/TapmanTHRUST

This project is partially supported by an Individual Artist Program Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, as well as a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, a state agency through federal funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

2
May

M.A.D.D. Rhythms @ HAROLD WASHINGTON CULTURAL CENTER ALL THAT JAZZ AND PIZZAZ THEATRICAL GALA

11ad1621-4382-4f84-8fbd-771927669d132015-10-28

2
May

Bril Barrett @ 4th Annual Las Vegas Tap Festival

Flyer-page-0

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

2
May

M.A.D.D. Rhythms West: The BBF Crew @ We Run The Runway

wrtr11952830_403314739873521_4078108083489853460_o

14
Jun

M.A.D.D. Rhythms’ Needs Your VOTE – Help Us Get An $100,000 Grant To Make Even MORE Of A Difference Dancing Rhythms

Dear friends, family, fans, supporters and recipients of various opportunities provided by

M.A.D.D. Rhythms,

We are calling on you to help us reach the next level of consideration for a $100,000 grant from Chase.

All it takes is 1 click of the above image and your vote is cast.

We are more than halfway there, but we need you to put us over the top!

Thank you, in advance, for taking the time to help us continue to help our communities!

-Bril Barrett

Founder/Director of M.A.D.D. Rhythms

12
Jun

M.A.D.D. Rhythms West: The BBF Crew @ Let Hope Rise

Join us for Let Hope Rise, a new, all-ages, FREE, monthly, one-day event in the parks.

Featuring Sandra Delgado, Kristina Isabelle, Bril Barrett & M.A.D.D. Rhythms West: The BBF Crew, Priya Shah,Mac Strongg, John Bitoy, The Collaboraction Teen Ensemble, and Crime Scene:The Next Chapter.

LET HOPE RISE is all about increasing the peace, art, love, hope, and fun in Chicago.

Taking place the 2nd Saturday of each month, LET HOPE RISE kicks off with a free community lunch at Noon featuring free pizza by Connie’s pizza with performances beginning at 1pm followed by artistic and education workshops.

Learn more at collaboraction.org

24
Dec

MAKE A DIFFERENCE! DONATE TODAY

When you or a family member wants to learn about tap, where do you turn?

If you’re like most in our community, you turn to M.A.D.D. Rhythms

Why?

Because you know you will receive an absolute top notch tapdance education.

And you also know that you’ll be treated like a real person, by dedicated, compassionate tap professionals in a warm, caring environment.

Your contributions have helped make M.A.D.D. Rhythms one the leading tapdance organizations in the Country.  We are so grateful to you for supporting our mission to preserve, promote and contribute to this artform called tap .

Thanks to you, our organization has touched the lives of thousands of youth – whether they needed a positive alternative to the streets, an outlet to express themselves or sought to improve their quality of life.

M.A.D.D. Rhythms is your community tapdance collective.  We exist to serve you and your loved ones – to spread joy, love, discipline and creative expression.

In this uncertain economic time, we count on your support – now more than ever.

Your gift is extremely important to M.A.D.D. Rhythms because it provides resources that make an immediate impact – that will help us through these interesting – and tough – times.

Your gift of $100, $500, $1,000 or $5,000 can make all the difference…… to our instructors, our students, our programs, our communites, our support staff – to every one here who works to serve you.

Please consider making as generous a gift as you can.

As Chicago’s underserved communities continue to experience an increase in youth related violent crimes, your tap collective is committed to staying at the forefront – for you, for your loved ones, for every person in the community.  Please help to make this possible with your contribution.

Your donation will make a world of difference.  I promise you.

Thank you so much for your help.

Sincerely,