Chicago Human Rhythm Project was co-founded by Lane Alexander and Kelly Michaels in 1990, as a summer festival to benefit HIV/AIDS patients at the Gus Giordano Dance Center in Evanston, IL. CHRP has since grown into one of the nation’s biggest promoters of tap (at last count in 2007, 40,000 people attended its programs). It gives lecture demonstrations for K–12 students, annually awards $15,000 in scholarships and presents outreach residency programs in Chicago-area youth centers and schools.
Twenty years after its founding, the organization celebrates its longevity with the Rhythm World summer festival, which runs July 26–August 8 at various downtown Chicago locations. Once a small fundraiser, the event is now the oldest annual tap festival in the world, with master classes, workshops and performances. This year’s honorees are legendary tappers Dianne Walker and Sam Weber, the only two individuals present at all 20 CHRP Festivals; Gene Medler, the founder of the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble; and Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art.
“Our 20th anniversary is not just a milestone for CHRP, but for the entire field, especially because we’re still fighting for recognition in institutions, in universities and in people’s minds,” says Cameron Heinze, CHRP community development manager. “Tap is a much older artform than styles like contemporary dance, but it has far less institutional support.”
Keeping up with the times and moving into the future, CHRP added to this year’s event a new social media component, Virtual Rhythms. This “tapography” competition for emerging choreographers and videographers invited participants to post video entries online. The general public voted on the winners, who will share the stage with great tappers from across the country during Rhythm World’s JUBA performances on August 4, 5 and 7 at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Info: chicagotap.org
Finis Jhung's career as a professional dancer began in 1960 in the Broadway and national companies of Flower Drum Song. The Korean-Scottish-English Hawaii native then went on to dance with San Francisco Ballet and the Joffrey Ballet, found his own company, Chamber Ballet USA, and teach his unique classical ballet style to professionals and amateurs all over the world. Now, at age 80, his teaching has gone full circle back to the basics, primarily focusing on what he calls his "adult babies"—absolute and advanced adult beginners—at The Ailey Extension in New York City.
As the director of dance at Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Belmont, Massachusetts, Istvan Cserven organizes the biannual student showcases, prepares dancers for competition and trains new instructors. On top of all that, he teaches the upper-level technique classes. A former ballroom champion in Hungary, he is well-acquainted with both rhythm and smooth ballroom-dance styles.
In an event inspired by the words of President John F. Kennedy, The Washington Ballet will perform the world premier of WHO WHEN WHY this Saturday, June 24, at the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Kogod Courtyard.
After having spent a lifetime looking at ourselves in the mirror, constantly appraising, who of us wouldn't want to take a dance class in the dark? Two Australian dance students, Alice Glenn and Heidi Barrett, had the same thought in 2009 when they founded No Lights No Lycra, a global dance community that offers dancers and nondancers alike the chance to get their groove on in a dark space, where there's no light, no Lycra, no technique, no teacher and no steps to learn. It's just a place to lose yourself in the music and find your own dance mojo. The event became so popular that it spread past its Melbourne beginnings, first throughout Australia and now, globally.
Four incredible educators: Joanne Chapman, Claudio Muñoz, Pamela VanGilder and Kathleen Isaac foster their students' love of dance, whether instilling artistry, offering rigorous training or giving special needs students an outlet through movement.