14th Annual Chicago Summerdance

The Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park blossoms into an urban dance space each Thursday through Sunday from June 17 to August 29. Thirty-nine different live bands swing, waltz, salsa, cha-cha, and more for locals and visitors.

Largest annual outdoor dance festival of its kind in the United States
with FREE dance lessons and live music
June 17 – August 29, 2010

The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs is excited to once again present Chicago SummerDance this summer, as the Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park blossoms into an urban dance space each Thursday through Sunday from June 17 to August 29.  Thirty-nine different live bands swing, waltz, salsa, cha-cha, and more for locals and visitors.  Last year over 100,000 people enjoyed the Chicago SummerDance festival, making it the largest festival of its kind in the United States.

Each night of the 11-week festival offers an introductory one-hour dance lesson by professional instructors followed by two hours of live music and dancing on a 4,600 square-foot, open-air dance floor designed by artist Dan Peterman out of 100% recycled materials.  The dance floor is located in the Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park, at 601 S. Michigan Avenue.  Chicago SummerDance events occur every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening, from 6 to 9:30 pm and on each Sunday afternoon from 4 to 7 pm, weather permitting.  Updates and announcements will be available at the SummerDance Hotline at 312.742.4007, on Facebook at Chicago SummerDance, or on Twitter at SummerDance2010. 

The 14th annual Chicago SummerDance series kicks off on Thursday, June 17, 2010, with an exceptional night of tango featuring Latin Grammy winner Raul Jaurena & Tangata with Eduardo Nijensohn.  Opening weekend continues on Friday, June 18, with the Latin Salsa of Carpacho y su Super Combo.  Saturday, June 19, features Big Band Swing with the Outcast Jazz Band, and Sunday, June 20, brings back the Ballroom favorite Teddy Lee Orchestra.

Several featured performances will join the 2010 festival schedule along with many favorites of previous years.  Syrian folk-pop musician Omar Souleyman makes his United States debut on Thursday, June 24.  As part of the Latin Street Salsa Congreso 2010, on Sunday, June 27, Chicago’s Afinca’o will bring their diverse Latin repertoire including salsa, Latin jazz, merengue, and cha-cha.  Louisiana Cajun and country band the Red Stick Ramblers play on Friday, July 9 in conjunction with the Chicago Folk & Roots Festival.  Thursday, July 15, sees the return of Punjabi funk masters Red Baraat to Chicago, and the Chicago Afrobeat Project perform their combination of African rhythms with high-energy rock and jazz on Thursday, July 22.  The full program of events is available at www.ChicagoSummerDance.org.

In addition to the events in Grant Park, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and the Chicago Park District bring the dancing to the City’s many neighborhoods.  Chicago parks, including Athletic Field Park, Humboldt Park Boathouse, and Jackson Park 63rd Street Beach, will host free Chicago SummerDance in the Parks on various Wednesdays between June 23 and August 25.  Dance lessons run from 6 to 7 pm followed by live music and dancing from 7 to 9 pm.  Admission is free.

For two special nights, July 14 and August 11, Chicago SummerDance at the Pier moves the fun to the Navy Pier Beer Garden at 600 E. Grand Avenue.  Professionals teach dance moves from 6 to 6:45 pm and the live music runs from 7:30 to 10 pm.  The evenings are hightlighted by Navy Pier’s Wednesday night fireworks at 9:30 pm.  Admission is free.  For more information, call 312.595.PIER (7437) or visit www.ChicagoBestBeerGarden.com.

The 14th Annual Chicago SummerDance series is organized by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and is presented with the Chicago Office of Tourism.  Chicago SummerDance is made possible by the generous support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Goose Island Beer Company; and United, the Official Airline of Chicago SummerDance. Illinois – Mile After Magnificent Mile.

Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park
The Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park was developed and landscaped especially for Chicago SummerDance and received a Gold Award from the Illinois Landscape Contractors Association. The Chicago Park District worked with Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Department of General Services and the Mayor’s Office of Special Events to create a garden that fulfilled program needs as well as a destination garden. Using a combination of annuals and perennials to create the spectacular splash of color throughout the summer, the garden’s layout incorporates a geometric design that pulls the visitor into the center of the garden. Classic-looking wooden umbrellas, tables, and chairs circle the center of the garden, allowing visitors to sit and enjoy their surroundings. A variety of food and drinks are available for purchase at the SummerDance Grill. Outside alcohol is strictly prohibited at all Summer Dance events.

Sculptor Albin Polasek’s The Spirit of Music statue presides over the award-winning garden and pays tribute to Theodore Thomas (1835-1905), who in 1891 founded the Chicago Orchestra (Chicago Symphony Orchestra), and served as its director until his death. Polasek intended this personification of music to have "the majesty and sweep" of a symphony and to be "dignified yet simple, assertive but not bold…a feminine figure…but not too feminine." The goddess figure has just struck a chord on her lyre. The hemispherical base is embellished with reliefs illustrating the power of music.

Chicago SummerDance Dance Floor
The open-air dance floor for Chicago SummerDance was designed by Chicago artist Dan Peterman out of recycled plastic. Title Chicago Ground Cover, the floor was first installed in 1997 at the original Chicago SummerDance site in Grant Park along Michigan Avenue at Washington Street (now Millennium Park). Originally 2,500 square feet, it was first expanded to 3,500 square feet in 1999. It was more recently expanded to 4,600 square feet to accommodate the increasing number of SummerDance visitors.

Originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, artist Dan Peterman’s work explores issues around recycling and ecology.  His specialty includes making art out of recycled plastic, producing mottled grey or green bricks and timbers that he uses to fabricate tables, benches, parquet floors and storage boxes.  Peterman received his MFA from the University of Chicago in 1986 and continues to live and work in the Hyde Park/Woodlawn neighborhood of Chicago.  He currently teaches at the University of Illinois at Chicago and helps run the Experimental Station, an “incubator of innovative cultural, educational, and environmental projects and small-scale enterprises.”

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