Ravinia Festival up and dancing
Lake-Cook and Green Bay roads, Highland Park
Programs through Sept. 9
Tickets can be ordered at www.ravinia.org or (847) 266-5100
Updated: June 5, 2012 8:11PM
The 2012 Ravinia Festival opens tonight with a tribute to Chicago dance legend Ruth Page, launching two short weeks of programs, after which the season runs straight through to Sept. 9.
Tickets to the festival’s first night and Friday night are a modest $10, when Concert Dance, Inc. presents five dances at 7:30 p.m. in the 450-seat Bennett-Gordon Hall.
“I believe we are helping to keep dance at the festival,” said Venetia Stifler, the company’s artistic director. “I remember Ruth Page and it is essential to honor her legacy.”
The seven-member ensemble, which celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, is based at the Ruth Page Center for the Art, a hub for a number of dance groups in Chicago.
“We know the Ravinia Festival is all about classical music,” Stifler continued, “so we have mezzo-soprano Tracy Watson singing Liszt for one piece and I’ve choreographed a number to music by Debussy.” This year marks the 150th anniversary of that composer’s birth, and his name was suggested to Stifler by Welz Kauffman, CEO and president of the Ravinia Festival.
Stifler chose Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” and titled her piece “Moonshine in G Minor,” referring to the key in which the familiar piece is written.
“It’s irreverent,” she
said, laughing. “I mix the meditative feeling of ‘Clair de Lune’ with a sound score which I created. It’s almost surreal, like what happened to the young man who got into a car in the movie ‘Midnight in Paris’ and found himself in another era entirely.”
Amy Wilkinson has danced with the company for 10 years and in celebration she has created “42nd Parallel,” danced to the music of Burt Bacharach, Sally Potter and pieces played by cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
Stifler and the company collaborated on “Controlled Chaos” to music by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, and the evenings conclude with Stifler’s choreography to Stravinsky’s “L’histoire du soldat.”
Each number is about 10 minutes long and will be introduced by the choreographer. “We’ve done that in the past and the audience likes it,” she said, adding that the program will be performed without intermission.
In addition to Wilkinson, the company includes Victor Alexander, Jamie Farrell, Jessie Gutierrez, Maray Gutierrez, Benjamin Law, Michel Rodriguez and Amy Wilkinson.
The performance is part of Ravinia’s Ruth Page Festival of Dance, presented in collaboration with The Ruth Page Foundation and honoring one of Chicago’s most celebrated dancers.
Prepare for a surprise when the Fifth House
Ensemble appears in Bennett-Gordon at 6 p.m. June 16. The program is the culminating event of the group’s two-week pilot project titled fresh inc., with developing composers at Carthage College in Kenosha where the musicians are in residence.
“We’ll play works by 12 composers, college through doctoral candidates,” said Adam Marks, pianist with the 10-member group. “The program will evolve as we go along.”
The name Fifth House comes from the astrological houses and is the house of creativity and pleasure. In addition to Marks, artists are Melissa Snoza, flute; Crystal Hall, oboe; Jennifer Woodrum, clarinet; Karl Rzasa, bassoon; Matt Monroe, horn; Drew Williams, violin; Clark Carruth, viola; Herine Coetzee Koschak, cell; and Eric Snoza, double bass.
The variety of instruments makes programming interesting. The ensemble will definitely play “Silver Dagger” by Stacy Garrop of Evanston and “When the Bow Breaks” by David Ratkowski of Boston, both recognized composers. “David’s title refers to the violin bow,” Marks continued, “and Drew Williams, our
violinist, will solo.
“We’ll premiere a dozen more works and all the composers will be present,” he promised. “We just don’t know the names of the pieces yet. It will be a surprise.”
On the pop stage, Earth Wind & Fire, on its Guiding Lights Tour 2012, brings its galvanizing mix of soul, jazz, R&B, funk and rock to the Pavilion on June 9. On Sunday, June 10, Iron and Wine takes the stage with Dr. John, a rare concert with the two of them together.