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Pivot Arts Fest Invades Edgewater, Uptown, Rogers Park Starting Tonight

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Photo by Brian Kuhlman

What do dancers on stilts, a competitive science lab, and a House music dance party have in common?  You can experience all of them as part of the Edgewater and Uptown based Pivot Arts Festival!

The Festival is a three-week series of innovative performances in non-traditional venues throughout Edgewater, Uptown, and Rogers Park. It kicks off May 28, and runs through June 14. Performances in the festival range from traditional stage shows, to interactive pieces involving the audience, to educational discussions at local businesses.

The festival is the brainchild of Julieanne Ehre and Katy Collins, co-founders of the nonprofit arts organization Pivot Arts. “Pivot Arts was born out of a desire to be a pivot point in the community through the arts,” said Ehre.

Through an arts incubator program hosted at Loyola University, pop-up performances in unique venues throughout the year, and the yearly festival, Ehre and Collins have helped connect the business, education, and arts sectors on the north side.

“Part of our mission is to support innovative performance in Chicago and to create a culture here that is similar to New York,” said Ehre. “There aren’t a lot of organizations that support multi-disciplinary or hybrid work – performance that blurs the line. Chicago is a meat-and-potatoes realism, actor-ensemble kind of town. Pivot Arts is looking to support artists who are trying to do something different.”

That doesn’t mean it’s experimental, she assured. The performances she and her team curate for the festival are accessible, entertaining, and engaging.

In its second year running, the festival’s theme is Art Meets Science. “A lot of groups were coming to us with science-based ideas,” said Ehre. “The theme naturally grew out of what was in the air.”

One of the first groups that approached Ehre with a project for the Festival was The Dilettantes, who produce Science Night, an interactive game where audience members pair up to compete in a game of science and strategy. The Dilettantes participated in the Pivot Arts incubator program this year.

The Seldoms, an internationally touring dance company based in Chicago, will be performing an excerpt of “Exit Disclaimer: Science and Fiction Ahead.” The piece explores the dialogue about climate change. Edgewater Workbench, a new community workshop and 3D printing center opening in June on Thorndale, will host a discussion on the different applications of 3D printing and have a demonstration of a 3D printer at work.

Other highlights on the Pivot Arts Festival schedule include “The Acoustics of House!”, a celebration of the Chicago House music scene of the 1980s, part dance party and part performance; “Art, Architecture, and Energy: What is to be Done?”, a panel discussion featuring experts on the arts, architecture, and the environment, including Edgewater residents who are leading the national discourse on these topics; and “Gravity!”, two shows with performers defying physics, including a dance company on stilts.

“We’re bringing in artists who wouldn’t normally perform in this neighborhood,” said Ehre. Many of the top-billed performers in this year’s Pivot Arts Festival are nationally and internationally touring acts, she said, and it’s a unique opportunity to have them in our community.

The Pivot Arts Festival kicks off May 28 with a party at Francesca’s Bryn Mawr. A $30 ticket gets you in the door, food, drinks (including specialty “science cocktails” served in beakers), a silent auction, and a pop-up performance from the Gashlycrumb Orphanage. Tickets for festival performances range from free to $15. Visit pivotarts.org/festival for a full lineup of events.


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