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


Chicago Tap Summit 2017 Sponsorship Opportunities

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We are reaching out to you, our community, our friends and supporters, to participate in this event by being a sponsor for the upcoming Chicago Tap Summit 2017 and production titled “Chicago: Sole Sounds of the Windy City”.  The sponsorship rate is $1,000 and includes your logo placement on all printed and web specific materials, tickets to the show and the ability to make an announcement from the stage if you’d like.  Please send your check/money order to our office by September 30, 2017, to be presented at our October 13th – 15th event.



The Entire M.A.D.D. Rhythms Family @ Big Deal: 13th Annual Performing Arts Gala


May 15, 2017 will mark a brand new milestone for gem of Chicago as executive producer Jimalita Hunter and Harold Washington Cultural Center host “Big Deal”, a theatrical fundraising gala. This production is a continuation of its Broadway in Bronzeville series. The gala will feature songs and scenes from over 10 top Broadway and off Broadway productions, including 42nd Street, Othello, Fosse, Phantom of the Opera, and more. This marks the kick off to the Harold Washington Cultural Center’s 13th year anniversary celebration. Each year we present our alumni and current members of Broadway in Bronzeville/ Off the Streets on the Stage programs. We also have an awards ceremony and pre-event reception. The goal is to raise funds to operate and expand our performing arts program for 2017-2018. Donell Jones, Louis Car, Josilyn Martin, Jahkil Jackson, and Betty Magness are listed as awardees.


M.A.D.D. Rhythms

M.A.D.D. Rhythms Bronzeville: The HWCC Crew

M.A.D.D. Rhythms Tap Academy

And Introducing……..

M.A.D.D. Rhythms “Grown & Sexy” Crew



M.A.D.D. Rhythms Bronzeville: The HWCC Crew @ 11th Annual KBMF Dance Showcase


Tickets are on sale now at:

The Kathryn Bender Memorial Dance Showcase brings together dance companies from the area to perform and raise money to help with research and prevention of sudden cardiac death as well as to provide scholarships in the community. Kathryn Bender was a senior at NNHS and only seventeen when she passed away in 2005 from sudden cardiac death. Participants in the showcase include the orchesis troupes from NVHS and MVHS along with Academy of Dance Arts, Extensions Dance Company, Beyond the Stars, Dream Contemporary Dance, Steps Dance Center, Elan Dance, School of Performing Arts, and M.A.D.D. Rhythms Tap Company. On May 13, 2017, the evening will begin at 6:30pm with raffles, silent auctions and concessions, and the show will begin at 7:30pm.


Jumaane Taylor @ Seaside Dance Festival


What: Seaside Dance Festival
When: Friday, May 5, 2017
Time: 6:00 pm
Where: Seaside Amphitheater

The Merchants of SEASIDE invite you to join them Friday through Sunday, May 5-7, for one of Seaside’s most exciting times of the year, Seaside Dance Festival weekend. This annual dance festival draws professional dancers and guest artists from around the globe to the Seaside Amphitheater for a weekend celebration of exceptional dance artistry. Lectures, demonstrations, performances and documentary films each night are free and open to everyone.


Bril Barrett @ 5th Annual Las Vegas Tap Festival



M.A.D.D. Rhythms @ Focus On The Arts 2017



Jumaane Taylor Is One Of SeeChicagoDance Best of 2016


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.



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”



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”




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”



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”



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.


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.”


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.


Jumaane Taylor @ Twin Cities Tap Fest


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.



Register Now For The 2016/17 Season

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


Tristan Bruns & Ian Berg Premier New Choreography In THRUST!


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!


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.