(From left) Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Jane Strauss, and Bill Melamed at a gala performance of The Art of Falling, a collaboration between Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and The Second City (photo by Robert F. Carl).

Hubbard Street Dance Gala Raises $800K for Programming and Initiatives

On Thursday, June 9, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago held its Season 38 Spotlight Ball at Chicago’s Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, located at 221 North Columbus Drive in Chicago.

The gala event raised more than $800,000 for Hubbard Street’s artistic, community-focused, education and youth dance programming. More than $225,000 of that total was raised the night of the event, through a live auction and paddle raise led by Gary F. Metzner of Sotheby’s, which included a $25,000 match provided by The Chicago Sun-Times Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust. More than 450 esteemed guests included artists, civic and corporate leaders; philanthropists; and the entire cast of Hubbard Street + The Second City’s encore engagement of The Art of Falling, which ran this spring at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park. 

The evening began at 5:00 p.m. with a Champagne reception at the Harris Theater, sponsored by Blue Plate Catering, preceding the opening-night performance of The Art of Falling. Guests were then transported to the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel’s Atlantic Ballroom. Following welcomes and remarks from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Hubbard Street’s artistic director, Glenn Edgerton and gala co-chairs, attendees enjoyed a three-course dinner; wines from AJR Ventures, Brooks, and Wine Sisterhood; Tito’s Handmade Vodka; and The Art of Falling–themed décor by Kehoe Designs.

​“When The Second City invited us to collaborate,” said Glenn Edgerton of the innovative hit production, “we discovered how both contemporary dance and sketch comedy are rooted in the exploratory process of improvisation. There’s something special in sharing the stage with a company that starts every new project with the concept of ‘Yes, and.’” The Second City’s Andrew Alexander in turn thanked Hubbard Street for making it “very, very easy to take a risk, and to produce what I think is one of the finest collaborations (The Second City has) ever been involved with.”

“I can’t say enough about the iconic institution that Lou Conte built nearly 40 years ago,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel added. “Hubbard Street has not just changed lives through dance. They have changed Chicago for the better, by bringing art and culture to more Chicagoans and, especially, to our children. I cannot wait to see what the next 40 years hold for Hubbard Street.”

Chicagoans Melissa Chrusfield and her daughter, Nina Chrusfield, spoke later in the evening of their experiences participating in Hubbard Street’s long-running Education Programs partnership with Ellen Mitchell Elementary School, where Nina recently graduated the fifth grade. As a participant on her own time in Hubbard Street’s Youth Dance Programs, taking six classes per week at the Hubbard Street Dance Center, “Nina has had the opportunity to be a leader for her classmates,” observed her mother, Melissa, “as some of them approach their first-ever experiences with movement and dance. She sees the value in her friends getting the chance to express themselves in ways beyond words.”

​The gala evening concluded with plenty of dancing to music by DJ Tess Kisner, of No Small Plans Productions and its popular dance party Slo ’Mo, held monthly at the Slippery Slope and other locations.