A beam of yellow light that mimicked the morning sun raced across the stage. Soft melodic music began to play as each dancer rose their arms up over their heads and stood to their feet. This was just the beginning of an amazing show…

Photo courtesy of http://trailerpilot.com/2009/02/15/

This year River North Chicago Dance Company is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. Founded in 1989, River North Chicago is one the most well-known dance companies around the nation. With intricate choreography and an electrifying soundtrack of music, their signature style is inspiring. Each dancer gives an impressive performance that audiences of all ages can thoroughly enjoy.

Frank Chaves joined the company in 1994 as co-artistic director and became sole artistic director nine years ago.

Before the performance on Wednesday, February 3rd, Chaves gave a pre-curtain speech to a small group about many highlights of the show.

Chaves mentioned that he choreographs a new piece for the show each year. The dancers work with different choreographers around the nation, adding a total of three new pieces each year. This year the company added five new pieces; almost an entire new set.

Chaves also gave some insight to his personal life when he mentioned a major spinal condition that inspired a piece called Forbidden Boundaries.

“In our quest for happiness and a well-balanced life we usually find ourselves bumping up against one huge obstacle, ourselves. More often than not the only thing standing in the way of success is us. We tend to forbid ourselves that success by creating boundaries too difficult to break through, too difficult to understand. The answer to this conundrum continues to elude me. Why, when we know how, do we forbid ourselves to succeed, to grow, to change?”

Program director of Bloomsburg University’s Celebrity Artist Series, Randall Presswood had worked for four years in attempt to have River North perform in our very own Mitrani Hall. Presswood expressed his love for the dance culture and how appreciative he is of the passion and discipline each dancer possesses, which was one of the many reasons he made the effort to have them perform here at BU. CAS is also celebrating their 25th anniversary.

Photo courtesy of http://getoutchicago.com/tag/chicago

River North Chicago Dance Company performed eight incredible pieces from ‘Ella’, a fast paced solo inspired by singer Ella Fitzgerald, choreographed by Robert Battle of ‘Battleworks’ in New York to ‘Tuscan Rift’ one of the three Chaves provided choreography for.

The last piece performed was ‘Forbidden Boundaries’, a crowd favorite. Choreographed by Frank Chaves, this piece held four parts: Invitation, Hidden Truth, Harmony and Confrontation.

Each dancer paired with another. As they danced the two struggled with one another to break free from a shirt that was used as bounding. The shirt was stretched and pulled and they struggled every which way until they finally broke free from this piece of material that constricted them from doing anything or going anywhere.

Each dancer performed from the tips of their fingers to the soles of their feet. Each movement was fluid. Their smiles, the sweat rolling down the sides of their faces and the heavy breathing after completing each piece truly showed how much effort, dedication and love each person had for their craft.

Check out this video to see a clip of these dancers: