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Chicago Dancemakers Forum Gathers Chicagoans For An Improvisers' Dance Jam At Big Marsh Park

On Saturday, September 24, Chicago Dancemakers Forum and multiple partners will present a series of dance improvisation experiences open to the public.

Chicago Dancemakers Forum Gathers Chicagoans For An Improvisers' Dance Jam At Big Marsh Park

Chicago Dancemakers Forum partners with M.A.D.D. Rhythms, [Un]common Grounds, and We Are Collective for a day of improvisational dance practices in Tap, Contemporary dance, and Freestyle/Hip Hop. The Improvisers' Dance Jam will take place outdoors at Big Marsh Park on the city's southeast side on Saturday, September 24, 2022, 1:00-4:00pm as part of their 5th Annual Celebration of Birds, Bikes, and Beats! Free and open for the public to participate.

Bril Barrett (he/him) of M.A.D.D. Rhythms explains the importance of improvisational gatherings to their company and their work, "TAP JAMS are our way of paying homage to the 'Hoofers' of old and the traditions they set. Tapdancers form a cypher/circle and take turns 'shedding' to the music and/or the beat established by the other tapdancers. This is how tapdance was created! The 'Hoofers' or original tapdancers would dance all day and all nights in the streets of Harlem. From Master Juba to Chuck Green, Hoofers would create, practice, and perfect this artform....outside! Many dance schools didn't allow African Americans, so the streets became Our Studios and the dance became our resistance and perseverance. TAP JAMS make us better. TAP JAMS give us new ideas. TAP JAMS help us communicate. TAP JAMS allow us to express ourselves. Improvisation is the key to everything."

Reign Drop Winker (they/them), Co-Founder of We Are Collective shares, "We Are Collective is so excited to be a part of this electrifying line-up of dance improvisers. Movers of all ages and experiences, join us for an ever flowing current of movement meditation. Our goal in this hour and always, the collective goal is to find steadfast freedom of expression in The River and with The Stone. Intrigued? Come explore! We will also be supported by the Somi-1 sound system, which composes music LIVE as movement occurs on bodies. We are so excited and grateful to make dance and music at Big Marsh, one of Chicago's invigorating parks and community centers."

[Un]Common Grounds will be sharing their practice which Kierah King (she/they) details as "a mixture of introductions, uncommon questions/conversation specific to Big Marsh and the event, a group and influence warm-up, and then a freestyle/improvisation section with prompts or guidelines to help folks feel comfortable with movement or one another."

Big Marsh is a 297-acre natural area and bike park on Chicago's Southeast Side operated by the Chicago Park District. Once seen as a forgotten post-industrial brownfield, the site was acquired and reimagined by the Park District in 2011 and opened to the public in 2016. Roughly 45 acres are developed for eco-recreation opportunities including bike trails, an asphalt pump track, and BMX jump lines. Other acreage is reserved for more passive recreation such as birding, nature observation and picnicking. All acreage is being restored to further enhance the native habitat of the park property including sensitivity to flora, fauna, and the extensive wetlands. Through much planning, investment, and local stakeholder input, Big Marsh is now a safe, open, and inviting park space for Chicago and the neighboring communities. Big Marsh Park also features the Ford Calumet Environmental Center (FCEC).

The Improvisers' Dance Jam is presented as part of the Chicago Park District's Night Out in the Parks series, supported by the Mayor's Office and Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Celebrating 10 years, the 2022 Night Out in the Parks program presents cultural events year-round in neighborhood parks throughout the city. The Chicago Park District in partnership with over 100 local artists and organizations, present engaging events and performances that enhance quality of life across Chicago and amplify the artistic and cultural vibrancy in every neighborhood. Through multiple disciplines, which include theater, music, movies, dance, site-specific work, nature programs, and community festivals, the series aims to support Chicago-based artists, facilitate community-based partnerships and programs, cultivate civic engagement, and ensure equity in access to the arts for all Chicagoans.

Improvisers' Dance Jam

Saturday, September 24, 2022, 1:00-4:00pm CT

Big Marsh Park, 11559 S Stony Island, Chicago 60633

Big Marsh is in Chicago, at 11559 S Stony Island, just off the eastern banks of Lake Calumet. The park is accessible from 103rd Street and Doty Road or 122nd Street and Torrence Ave. It is a natural environment with limited accessibility; paved trails and onsite environmental center with bathrooms are wheelchair accessible. Free and abundant parking lot.


Free and open for the public to participate.


1:00 We Are Collective (Contemporary, Open)

2:00 [UN]Common Grounds (Freestyle, Hip Hop)

3:00 M.A.D.D. Rhythms (Tap Jam)

Save-the-Date for Elevate Chicago Dance 2022! October 13-16 at multiple venues across Chicago, including Big Marsh Park. More information at

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