Win tickets to Las Guitarras de España and El Payo Concert

8:30 PM



Las Guitarras de España and El Payo return to Mayne Stage performing Flamenco rumbas, tangos and even a Sevillana or two for you to dance too! Flamenco dancer, Chiara Mangiameli, owner of Studio Mangiameli, will offer some free basic flamenco dance instruction at 8:30PM. Cellist, Ian Maksin will also be a featured soloist for the evening.

Win Two tickets to this Show!
Just need to be a subscriber of Chicago Urbanite and leave a comment on this post to participate. We will announce the winner tomorrow morning. Good luck!


Afro-Peruvian Dance Flashmob Video

I always liked the idea of being part of a dance flashmob. So last week, when I saw a video of TACA Airlines doing a dance flashmob with live music on a plane, I said to myself: If they can do it, we can do it here too!

I decided to do a flashmob that would pay tribute to the Day of Peruvian Criolla Music (Día de la Canción Criolla), which is celebrated in Peru every October 31st. With less than one week to organize it, I reached out to my network of friends in the dance and music community. And they responded! People from Peru and other nationalities like Serbia, Romania, Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the United States, all collaborated. It was wonderful to see the enthusiasm and joy of all who participated. For many, it was their first time learning about Afro-Peruvian rhythms. It showed again the power of music and dance to unite us all.

So, here are the results of our collaboration. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did. In fact, we liked it so much that we are thinking of repeating it very soon.  If you want to join us and be part of future dance flashmobs,  just leave a comment here.

Win tickets to Moulin Rouge Show

Venue: Auditorium Theatre 50 E. Congress Parkway, Chicago, IL 60605
Dates: Friday, November 2 – Sunday, November 4, 2012
Times: Friday at 7:30 pm, Saturday at 8:00 pm, Sunday at 2:00 pm
Price: $74-$30

Get transported to the turn of the century Paris…a city of exquisite contradiction…when Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet performs Moulin Rouge® – The Ballet. Featuring a French music score, high-kicking choreography and a passionate story of love, aspiration and heartbreak, the ballet tells the story of Matthew and Nathalie as they tempt fate while seeking love at the infamous cabaret – The Moulin Rouge.

Win Two tickets to this Show!
Just need to be a subscriber of Chicago Urbanite and leave a comment on this post to participate. We will announce the winner tomorrow!


Discover the Joy of Sean-nós dance

If you live in Chicago, I am sure you have seen Irish Stepdance. You know, the traditional Irish  dance performed at St Patrick Day’s celebrations in which dancers stiffen their upper bodies while performing quick, intricate footwork. But have you ever heard of Sean-nós dancing?  I discovered this Irish dance form while attending a show at Old Town School of Folk music last year and had the pleasure to see sean-nós dancers Brian Cunningham and Irene Cunningham perform:

This dance is considered to be the jazz of traditional Irish dancing. Rescued from near death almost twenty years ago, it is now flourishing and spreading throughout Ireland like a hill fire. It is performed alone in short bursts of exuberance as dancers respond to the music in their own unique way. Dancers start with a few basic steps and improvise and refine them over a lifetime. No two performances are ever the same. There are no set pieces, no costumes, no rules.  Sean-nós dance is characterized by its “low to the ground” footwork, improvised steps, free movement of the arms, and an emphasis upon a “battering step” (which sounds out more loudly the accented beat of the music). By its nature, it follows the music closely. Because sean-nós dancing is improvisational, it is not necessary for a pre-arranged routine or choreography to be decided upon by the dancer. Spontaneous expression is highly valued. Therefore, it is less common to see groups performing synchronized sean-nós dance (which requires choreography in advance). Instead, the dancers may dance in turns, playing off the energy of the other.

If you are interested in seeing this dance form in Chicago, then come to a benefit show organized by Chicago Irish Immigrant Support that will feature this joyful dance and the unbridled enthusiasm of Brian Cunningham and Atlantic Steps. Brian Cunningham has won multiple awards for his dancing at major competitions and has performed at a number of prestigious occasions, including  accompanying the President of Ireland on state visits to Japan and South Korea and going on tour all over Britain, Ireland, Europe, and North America. The show moves audiences to their feet, bringing sean nós dance to its rightful place on the world stage.

Proceeds from the show go to benefit Chicago Irish Immigrant Support’s legal aid to Irish immigrants and social services for senior citizens.

WHEN:  Saturday, November 3, 2012.

Doors open:  6:00PM

Show begins: 7PM

WHERE:  Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox Ave, Chicago, IL 60630

WHO:  Starring Brian Cunningham and the Atlantic Steps dancers. The show is an exciting display of sean nós dance accompanied by live traditional music.

FOR TICKETS: call Chicago Irish Immigrant Support (773) 282-8445 or buy them online  at

World Music Fest and People of Chicago Videos

If you still have not gone to any of the free Chicago World Music Fest concerts, you should definitely do it soon.  I went to see Dehli 2 Dublin, this Canadian band that mixes  Bhangra and Celtic music,  and it was quite energizing and unique. I mean, where have you seen an Asian dude wearing a kilt and playing the sitar? Check some of their performance here:

Tonight I am checking out Slavic Soul Party, a BalkanSoulGypsyFunk Brass band from New York. and tomorrow I will see Magic Carpet, a local band that blends Jazz, Reggae, and Funk with the traditions of Africa, the Middle East, and India.  I saw these cats at SummerDance Fest a few weeks ago and I can tell you that you run the risk to get hypnotized with their music:

Note aside: I want to pay homage to the people of Chicago, who can be fearless and strong supporters of music and dance. I went to Millennium Park for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra‘s Carmina Burana concert last Friday, thinking that very few people would attend due to the rainy weather. To my surprise, the place was packed! We stood in the rain for the duration of what was an epic concert.

In addition to overcome uncomfortable weather conditions, some of us are fearless enough to express our passion for dance and music in unorthodox ways. I saw some of that happening at Chicago SummerDance Fest during Magic Carpet’s concert. This  free outdoors festival allows Chicagoans from all backgrounds and ages to get together and dance. Gotta love the power of music and dance to break any kind of barriers!

So in case you fancy to join me, these are my recommendations for tonight and tomorrow (I also accept suggestions, so post a comment with your favorite bands or pics/videos of the festival):

Tonight:  Slavic Soul Party,

Tomorrow: Magic Carpet and Spain’s flamenco/latin/rock band Canteca de Macao

Click here for information about location and times of concerts. Hope to see you there!

Cycling in Chicago and SummerDance Fest

Who knew I was going to enjoy cycling in the city so much? How did this happen? Well, my friend Ezra, an expert in fixing and customizing bikes,  recently got me this beauty of a bike:

It is a 1970s Schwinn Le Tour Tourist . This beauty is just what I needed: It is light so I can easily lift it, with curvy handles so I don’t have to lean too much when riding, and it has a nice and comfy seat. I have been using this little bike as much as I can since I got it and I am having so much fun. I feel so free when I am riding it : I enjoy the sensation of the warm summer breeze caressing my face, the sound of the birds chirping, and the sight of the scenery around me. I know, it sounds cheesy, but I feel so much more relaxed when I bike  than when I drive that I am now trying to go everywhere on it!  So far, I have used it to go to Pitchfork Fest and to Montrose Beach this weekend and it has been a blessing. No more wasting time looking for parking or dealing with traffic! (I deliberately choose the quietest routes). What’s more, everybody has been cordial and yields at the sight of my bike (!). I guess they are aware of the laws that protect cyclists’ safety in this city.  The bike lanes located on  main roads also help make the experience safer and enjoyable. My favorite bike route so far is the Lakefront Trail and I cannot wait to explore the rest of the city’s trails!

Because of this bike fever that I have, I am discovering interesting facts about biking in this city. For example, did you know that Chicago has been distinguished as one of the premier cycling locations in the United States? In fact, according to Matador Network, a travel website,  Chicago is one of the 15 world’s most bike-friendly cities. If you want to find out why, then visit the City of Chicago website  to get facts and information about biking in this city.

Anyway, I hope my experience entice you to start biking more often. It is not only good for the environment, but it is also good for your soul, your body, and your pocket. In fact, why not try to bike to SummerDance Fest for its opening show at Grant Park tonight? For those of you unfamiliar with this festival, it is the largest annual outdoor dancing series in the United States, and one of my favorites festivals of the summer. The series offers free, introductory one-hour dance lessons by professional instructors followed by music and dancing. The diverse musical lineup showcases dance styles from all corners of the globe.

However, if you need to get  a bike or fix/customize the one you already have, then send a message to my buddy Ezra and mention that you saw his information on Chicago Urbanite to get a discount for being my follower. He does a superb job!

Oh! One last thing: I am new to this biking thing. So please feel free to leave any recommendations in the comments section for this post. Thanks!

Recommended for tonight: From the Arctic to the Middle East(Broken Narratives by an American Flamenco Dancer)


Is it possible to combine the intricate presentational aspects of flamenco in a vital contemporary context? Wendy Clinard attempts to do that in her latest multimedia show. Clinard Dance Theatre is proud to present From the Arctic to the Middle East (Broken Narratives by an American Flamenco Dancer) tonight at 8:00 p.m., and tomorrow April 22 at 7:00 p.m. at Links Hall 3435 N. Sheffield Avenue, Suite 207, Chicago, IL 60657.

Artistic Director Wendy Clinard leads you on a journey inspired by travels with her daughter to Syria while reading the Arctic travel epic, Kaloona. The work fuses connections between the ancient and the modern, the spiritual and the physical, and those between the essences of struggle and celebration. Clinard questions the forces that shape human history and interdependence. From the Arctic to the Middle East (Broken Narratives by an American Flamenco Dancer) uses the timeless tools of story, song, music, and dance to provide an odyssey and a sense of transcendence which gives the feeling that the journey has just begun.

I recently met Wendy at her dance studio in Pilsen for a conversation about this show. Wendy is a thoughtful, passionate and enthusiastic artist from Chicago that I had the pleasure to know as a flamenco teacher. As her student, I learned that in Flamenco it is vital to be yourself. This is something she learned herself from her teachers in Spain. As an American learning Flamenco, she was encouraged to embrace her own identity and be genuine. Flamenco is about self-expression, and about taking a body of knowledge and work it with your life experience. It is about including people rather than excluding them. In fact, the roots of flamenco come from people from different cultures that were in itinerary camps exchanging ideas and needing to express their hardships. Likewise, ideas are now being exchanged rapidly at a global level; however, when we are exposed to cultural differences, we often get defensive and we try to impose our own worldviews on them. Wendy states that instead of having an attitude of separation, we should see these differences with a sense of curiosity. To her, exposure to Flamenco allowed her to see difference and diversity in this light.

She became interested in Flamenco when, as a painter living in NYC, she tried to sketch a flamenco dance class. The drawings she produced were meek compared to the feelings she had while looking at the dancers perform. She thought that by experiencing the movement of flamenco in her own body she would be able to better capture the feelings she experienced. She started taking flamenco lessons in pursuit of being a better painter. She never ever thought of becoming a dancer. It was not something planned, it was just a path that opened to her and she followed it. Painting to her was introspective, but with dancing she started to work on lifting and and grounding herself. Unlike painting, which is very loose and free, dancing has rules to follow. Having rules to express yourself and to grow was very satisfying to her. She became immersed in the Flamenco dance world, and people started introducing her as a Flamenco dancer without her being aware of this new identity.

To Wendy, Flamenco is a dance form that welcomes a true seeker and that requires discipline, humility and love. And she dances for love. Flamenco is an activity that is deeply connected to her personal life and this is expressed in her work. For example, “ From the Arctic to the Middle East” is inspired by her daughter Sophie. The idea for this piece grew from a personal reflection during a trip they took to Syria and contemplating Sophie’s adaptation to a different environment. During that time, she was reading the Arctic travel epic Kaloona. Wendy started collecting picture files of personal events happening during this trip and quotes from the book that were inspiring to her. She started connecting the dots between them, and discovered a common theme. She found that what started as something very anecdotal became something universal. Her motif for this piece is to pull back from our usual way of seeing common things and to look at them from a different perspective. Through a combination of dancing, and hearing sounds, music, and text , she attempts to offer an opening to people to shift perspectives. The piece talks about biology, psychology, spirituality, and individual growth. Wendy is looking for a dialogue with her audience and for intimacy to occur together. She also hopes that the piece inspire people to have the courage to express and be themselves. She wants people to connect through her work, to reconsider, pause, and feel that it is okay to be who you are and talk about life in different ways. The gift she wants to give through her work as an artist and as a teacher is to allow people to be themselves, to connect, and to create dialogue. If you want to find more information about Wendy, her current production, and her classes, visit her website at


One of the most exciting up and coming city blogs – Chicago Urbanite – celebrates 1 year in the traditional Chicago style with music, dance, food and fun. And to top it all off, Chicago Latino TV will be covering the event, so be ready to smile for the camera!
Join us in positiveness tonight, Saturday March 24 starting at 9pm, so we can finally meet each other and form a stronger community bond.



Complimentary delicious Peruvian appetizers, courtesy of our sponsor MACHU PICCHU RESTAURANT

10-11 PM
Dance Performances by:

YAASHA ABRAHAM, who will do a demonstration of Brazilian and Ethiopian dance. She is the Director of Education & Youth Outreach, Choreographer, and Artist Coordinator for Passistas Dance Group, named the best Brazilian dance group by Chicago’s Brazilian community.

KID JUNGLE, the artistic director of the urban dance troupe, “Thee Authentic Fewsion” or “T.A.F”. He will be doing a demonstration of hip hop/breakdance. Jungle spreads the knowledge and education of positive Hip Hop culture as well as other cultures through workshops and performances. He and his dance crew were chosen to represent the city of Chicago at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo

POPPIN’ CHUCK, who will do a demonstration of Poppin’ and Lockin’. He is an instructor, choreographer, and performer for Thee Authentic Fewsion.

11 PM
Live music by:

NUBAMBU, a Chicago Urban Fusion band whose sounds are as diverse as its cross-cultural musicians. They will get us to dance with their unique and highly contagious danceable Latin-Reggae rhythms. Their influences range from all different corners of the world and blend together in an original Chicago style urban fusion sound. The band members are from France, Venezuela, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the United States, and Peru. Their music is multilingual, street-smart and cutting-edge lyrics with a twist that fuse together different styles. Get a taste of Nubambu on our YouTube commercial here

SUGGESTED DONATION to keep the vibe going and more events to come: $5

1902 W. Irving Park Rd, Chicago, IL 60613
Silvie’s Lounge is conveniently located one block away from the Irving Park Brown Line Stop

DRINK SPECIALS:Jack and Coke $4, Smirnoff and Soda $4, Lemon Drops $4, Yeager Bombs $5, Beer Specials $3.

Do you want to see who is going? Then RSVP here

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NEW LOCATION for Tomorrow’s Afro-Peruvian Music, Dance and Cajon Workshops

 We have a NEW location for tomorrow’s workshops. It is located 10 block aways from the previous location. Here is the new address:
BA Studio

2846 W North Ave, 2nd Floor, Chicago IL 60647
(Meet at side entrance on FRANCISCO AVE)

See map here

3:00 -5:00 PM

$20 per workshop ($25 without RSVP)
Please RSVP via Facebook as attending
Or via (Subject: “Workshop”)


 Everyone has to get here early because it’s a locked building so I have to let you in when you get here. We will start on time! 🙂
-Wear work out clothes
-If possible, don’t wear shoes in studio unless they are indoor shoes

QUESTIONS? CALL 630.207.3679

Feb 25th  2012
3pm -4pm
Cost:  $20
Please RSVP via Facebook as attending
Or via (Subject: “Workshop”)
Join Ruben Pachas for a hands-on workshop on the diversity of Afro-Peruvian folk dance. He will focus  on the Festejo, a music and dance form developed in the plantation fields during the 18th century. The word Festejo, comes from the Spanish word festejar (to celebrate) .  True to its name, the music and dance of the Afro-Peruvian genre is joyous and vibrant but its traditional lyrics usually narrate the hardships of enslaved life. Participation will be encouraged. The class will last about one  hour and you will learn other Afro-Peruvian dances such as Zamacueca, Lando, Marinera & Vals.
Feb 25th  2012
Cost:  $20
Please RSVP via Facebook as attending
Or via (Subject: “Workshop”)
Join us for another special workshop with Ruben Pachas and discover the Cajon (Box) drum. This class is an introduction to the Cajon drum & Afro-Peruvian rhythms – Festejo, Zamacueca, Lando, Marinera & Vals.
Students will learn how to play basic patterns and explore different rhythms and stroke combinations on the cajon drum.
(Beginners always welcome/Advanced students learn new techniques and refresh your Cajon skills)
(We recommend that you bring your own)
The Cajon drum (pronounced cahon)is the Spanish word for “box”. The idea of using a simple wooden box as a drum is believed to have originated in colonial Peru where Africans displaced from their homeland substituted cod shipping crates for their native drums. As a result, Afro-Peruvian music is a unique blend of Spanish, Andean, and African traditions. Today, this versatile drum is steadily gaining popularity and recognition and can be heard in many different styles of music worldwide.
RUBEN PACHAS has a solid background in artistic performance and as a dance teacher with a strong emphasis in field research and dance techniques. He is a graduate of  the prestigious Escuela Nacional Superior de Folklore  Jose Maria Arguedas and has an extensive experience as a professional Folk dance teacher. He is the Founder and Director of Peruvian Folk Dance Center, a Chicago dance group whose mission is to promote Peruvian culture through the teaching and performance of Peruvian folk dances.  
Here is video with a sample of Afro-Peruvian dances performed by the Afro-Peruvian musical ensemble Peru Negro: