River North Dance Chicago’s Annual Gala

Get ready for an unparalleled performance…

River North Dance Chicago hosts its annual gala on Thursday, November 14, at the Fairmont Chicago (200 North Columbus Drive) following the premiere of Autumn Passions at the Harris Theater (205 E. Randolph Dr.) at 6pm. The performance features works by Adam Barruch, Kevin Iega Jeff, and Ashley Roland.

“RNDC audiences are once again treated to fresh, exciting new work by three incredible choreographers as we kick off our 2013-2014 season,” says Artistic Director Frank Chaves. “Each of these new pieces offers something different for both the dancers and the audience. From theatrical movement to stunning artistry the company is pushed in new directions both physically and emotionally.”

Choreographer Ashley Roland took time out of her busy schedule to discuss the work, time, and excitement that goes into the planning of a new piece. Ms. Roland’s world premiere of Get Out the Ghost is choreographed for six dancers and set to various musical pieces.

“Telling the story of six people who, like most of us, carry loads of baggage or skeletons around with us, I set out to create a piece that evolves into the ethereal,” says Ms. Roland. “We all have tremendous life experiences that have permanently altered us and through this new work we see how some are able to relieve themselves from carrying the ‘ghosts’ of their past and move forward having gained wisdom from their experiences.”

On what to expect of the performance, Ms. Roland shares, “there are some unpredictable elements to this piece and something different can happen every time.” On style, “I come from a multi-technical background, which includes classical, modern, gymnastics, theater et cetera. I like to draw from all of them. My philosophy is that all movement is dance. I gravitate towards making unusual movement and choreography that takes the dancers and the audience into a new realm of human possibilities.”

Asked how the dancers were chosen for the performance, Ms. Roland explains, “I worked with the dancers for an entire work day, playing theater and movement games. I wanted to see who was really liberated in their movement and theatricality. I also challenged them all with doing some partnering and lifting, because I love to use them in my choreography. And finally I look for the dancers who are the best team players, who will work cohesively bringing the piece to life. Having said all of this it was hard to make my final choice from River North’s dancers.”

And Ms. Roland has her very own method on choosing dancers, she explains, “It’s different every time. It’s like having a baby, I would not want to give them a name until I met them out of the womb. So in this case, I met the dancers, started improvising with them and the personality of the piece arrives, then the choreography flows quickly. Anecdotally, it took my husband and me three months to name our first child.”

Ms. Roland is not from Chicago, but compares the Windy City to New York: “I come from NY, and if I was to use a very simple descriptive to compare Chicago and New York it would be ‘optimism.’ What I do know about Chicago is that remains as the heart of jazz dance for the entire country, and has some of the finest contemporary dance companies in the world. It is a great alternative to New York for professional dancers. I have thoroughly enjoyed working here and experiencing all of Chicago’s culture. It is inspiring and cutting edge.”

RNDC Annual Gala tickets are available at $350 for an individual ticket and table seating begins at $3,500. For additional information contact Paula Petrini Lynch at 312.944.2888.

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About Cindy Burns

Currently writing for TCW's 'Woman About Town' column, Cindy Burns covers Chicago's social scene, events, fashion, and interviews women and men who are making a difference in the world. With an M.A. in American History from DePaul University, Ms. Burns is an author, freelance writer, avid reader and researcher. Ms. Burns has spent over 20 years serving on charitable boards and organizations, and currently serves as a member of the Women's Board of the Joffrey Ballet and the Women's Auxiliary Board of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicago. She is also an Honorary Member of the Children's Service Board of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital. When Ms. Burns isn't running around Chicago covering current events, you can find her biking, on the tennis courts, or hiking in a mountainous region of her choice.