Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Drumline Live! – A True Art Form of the HBCU Marching Band

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By Brian Snell – Drumline Live! Drum Major

DRUMLINE LIVE is this weekend! Click HERE for ticket info.

The HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) Marching Band has easily become, in my opinion, a true art form. Sometimes referred to as “show bands,” this spin-off of more traditional marching band styles began to take shape post-Civil War during the Reformation period. During this time, philanthropists, freed slaves, religious organizations, and even federal legislation, were establishing institutions of higher learning, for African-Americans, across the nation.

Between the 1940’s and 1960’s, flourishing band programs were established at institutions like Tuskegee University, Florida A&M University, and Tennessee State University, just to name a few. These Marching Bands performed extremely entertaining and creative shows that incorporated musical influences of African-American culture such as gospel, Rhythm and Blues, and jazz, while still maintaining the traditional repertoire and aspects of Marches. These bands also began to integrate dance routines and choreography to their performances, which further related to, and appealed to, the culture of its members and audiences and beyond.

Now that the history lesson is over, I can tell you what really made me understand the appeal of what we do. Drumline Live! has performed throughout the United States, and has been well received all over the country, but I must say that the international tour, in which the cast traveled to Japan and South Korea, really opened my eyes as to how special our craft is world-wide. Don’t get me wrong, our fans in the States are wonderful and we feel the appreciation and love night after night, but overseas is on a whole different level! To say we’re treated like Rockstars would be and understatement. The energy, excitement, and appreciation from foreign audiences is like nothing I’ve ever experienced! I’ve seen fans ask for autographs, trembling with tears in their eyes because they were so excited about our show and seeing us up close!

The most amazing thing to me is that people on the opposite side of the planet, could enjoy and appreciate what I’ve taken for granted for most of my life as just “Marching Band.” This is when I realized that no one else in the world does what we do! Drumline Live! takes the steps to demonstrate an art that is completely unique to the HBCU culture and the United States, and brings it to audiences worldwide. If that isn’t an aspect of a true art form, I don’t know what is.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Meet the BAD BOYS!

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BAD BOYS OF DANCE was founded by dance superstar Rasta Thomas in 2007. Today the company brings their magic to the masses, giving over 150 shows a year and has performed for over 500,000 fans worldwide. BBD dancers have performed on Broadway, been in Feature Films, and have been adored by millions on hit TV shows like "Dancing with the Stars". In 2010 they performed at Carnegie Hall in NYC with Sir Elton John for a Rainforest charity event also starring Lady Gaga, Sting, Bruce Springsteen and more. In 2011 they made a special guest performance on FOX's "SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE" and are currently touring the world with their hit shows "ROCK the Ballet" & "Tap Stars".

Enter HERE to win free tickets to the show!
or Buy tickets HERE

Who's Who

RASTA THOMAS (Artistic Director) Rasta Thomas was born in San Francisco, California in 1981 and raised in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Rasta studied at the world-renowned Kirov Academy in Washington D.C. As a teenager, Rasta made dance competition history with honors including the Special Jury Prize from the 1994 Paris International Dance Competition, the Gold Medal in the Junior Men's Division from the 1996 Varna International Ballet Competition, and the Gold Medal in the Senior Men's Division from the Jackson, MS USA-IBC. In 2001 Rasta was the first American to become a member of the Kirov Ballet in St. Petersburg, Russia and then in 2003 he joined Dance Theatre of Harlem. He has performed at the White House for the President of the United States and has appeared at Harlem's famous "Apollo Theater". In 2005, Rasta starred on Broadway in Twyla Tharp's hit musical, "Movin' Out". Rasta is the founding director of "Bad Boys of Dance" and in 2008 he created the international hit show Rasta Thomas' "Rock The Ballet"

ADRIENNE CANTERNA-THOMAS (Choreographer/Dancer) Kirov Academy of Ballet scholarship graduate, Adrienne Canterna, is the recipient of numerous national and international awards including the 1998 Women's Junior Gold Medal at the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi. As a Principal guest ballerina she danced the roles of Gamzatti in "La Bayadere", the Sugar Plum Fairy in "The Nutcracker", and Kitri in "Don Quixote" with the Universal Ballet in Seoul, Korea. She has appeared in numerous galas including the prestigious "Les Gala des Etoiles" where she performed "LeCorsaire" pas de deux with international ballet star, Carlos Acosta. Adrienne travels the world as a dancer, master teacher, choreographer and judge. She can be seen as a ballet soloist in the motion picture "Step Up". Adrienne is the choreographer of the international hit show Rasta Thomas' ROCK the Ballet & the founder and Artistic Director of "Pretty Girls of Dance".

JAMES BOYD (Bad Boy) James was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida and started dancing at age eleven at Dansations Performing Arts Center. His training led him to earn his B.F.A from Suny Purchase College in 2010. Mr. Boyd became fluent in ballet, jazz, hiphop, breakdance, modern and tap. James has received numerous scholarships from the conventions L.A.D.F., Urban Jamm, Company Dance and N.Y.C.D.A.

RYAN CARLSON (Bad Boy) Ryan was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. He began his dance training at age eleven at Center Stage Dance Company. Ryan has trained in ballet, jazz, modern, lyrical, contemporary, hip hop and gymnastics. He is a graduate from Douglas Anderson School of the Arts and has received many awards as a competition dancer including Teen Mr. Dance of Florida. Ryan is a member of the award winning “Systematic” dance crew with recognition as the winner of BET’s "Best Dance Crew". He has been a featured dancer in several music videos and TV commercials.

LEE GUMBS (Bad Boy) Lee Gumbs started dancing at age 5 and by 7 he received scholarships for ballet & jazz classes. Shortly after he started signing himself up for more classes without permission! This is when his mom realized this was more than a hobby. He went on to win numerous regional & national dance competitions. Lee started traveling solo at 15 to L.A., New York, Las Vegas & Virginia Beach to take advantage of scholarships he had won. At 16 he was the first boy chosen by Dance Spirit magazine as 1 of the top 3 cover models out of thousands of entries.

BRANDT MARTINEZ (Bad Boy) Brandt is originally from Peoria Arizona, Brandt trained at a very young age at Spisak Dance Academy in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, and Hip Hop. Then later furthered his dance education at Tempe Dance Academy where he learned many different styles that make him the versatile dancer he is today. Brandt has been a featured dancer in the International Dance Alliance where he toured over 5 countries in Europe. Brandt has worked with many choreographers such as Tabitha and Napoleon, Tyce Diorio, TOKYO, Joe Lanteri, Joey Dowling, and Jason Parsons. Brandt has been a featured dancer in the annual show, “The Spirit of Christmas” located in Phoenix, Arizona for the past two years.

SHANE OHMER (Bad Boy) Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Shane began his dance training at the High School For Creative and Performing Arts. Upon an early graduation, he finished his training in Pacific Northwest Ballet School's Professional Division. He has danced in Pacific Northwest Ballet, River North Chicago Dance Company, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal and most recently has been a guest artist for numerous companies around the world. Shane has toured extensively throughout the US, Canada, the Middle East, and Europe performing in works by Mats Ek, Ohad Naharin, Stijn Celis, Nacho Duato, William Forsythe, and George Balanchine. Recently, he created choreography for celebrity fashion designers The Blonds in NY Fashion week. Besides dancing, Shane has been a runway model in NY Fashion week for Commonwealth Utilities and Armani Exchange and was featured in GQ and GAP Press Magazines.

TIM OlSON (Bad Boy) Tim Olson originally resides from Anoka, MN. Dancing since the age of 3, and teaching since 15, Tim now 21 has studied various styles of dance including Jazz, Tap, Ballet, Contemporary and Hip Hop at Northland School of Dance and other various schools of dance including Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway etc... His achievements include 2004 national teen title at West Coast Dance Explosion, 2005 Tanzsommer Dance Festival in Austria, and top 3 senior male at NYCDA. Tim this past year danced with Odyssey Dance Theater in Salt Lake City, Utah. Performing productions such as “ It’s a Wonderful Life”, “ Giselle”, and “ Romeo and Juliet”. Tim is continuing to pursue his dreams and goals and is excited about the future projects coming up.

PHILLIP CARMAN (Resident Director/Ballet Master) Former Artistic Director of the Maryland Ballet, Mr. Carman has enjoyed an illustrious career in the ballet. As a member of the PA Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, & Tanz Projekt Munchen, he has amassed a wealth of experience. Phillip has served as a Cultural Ambassador in Italy, and his choreography continues to receive enthusiastic reviews in Europe and the USA. He enjoys his work as an international competitions' coach, judging top dance competitions and serving as Artistic Director of St. Paul Chamber Ballet.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Drumlines - Marching through History

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Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) are institutions of higher learning that were established before 1964 with the intention of serving the African American community. There are more than 100 historically black colleges in the United States, located almost exclusively in the Southeast.

The HBCU were established after the Civil War as places of dignity and hope where young people had an opportunity to become professionals instead of maids or laborers. Along with the private black colleges and universities founded later by the AMA, these reconstruction era schools became the backbone of higher education for African Americans.

It was in these bastions of higher education that the tradition of the show style marching band was born. The tradition began over fifty years ago at Florida A&M University, which has been long considered the nation’s preeminent black college marching band school. HBCU marching bands began, as most do, as support for the college football team. They have since grown into a sport of their own, featuring characteristic high stepping, funky dance rhythms, and exciting musical repertoire ranging from classical to Top 40.

Celebrations of HBCU marching culminate in competitions such as the Big Southern Classic and the Bayou Classic. These competitions, which draw audiences of roughly 60,000 fans each, are a testament to the popularity of the sport. But it is only recently, with films such as Drumline, and backed by a flurry of high profile marching band appearances, that this tradition has begun to capture the imagination of the American public.

Check out these other great videos about Marching Bands and HBCUs:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Take Education Outside of the Classroom

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Educators and student groups have the fun and affordable opportunity to take education outside of the classroom by joining the Student Balcony Club.

There are so many ways to use our exciting and amazing shows as an educational tool. Dance students have the opportunity to see legendary companies like American Ballet Theatre and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in order to improve upon their technique. School teachers can educate their students on the importance of accessibility and inclusion within the disabled community with a trip to see AXIS Dance Company. History or social studies teachers can celebrate the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend by taking their students to see Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah. Instrumental and vocal students can see the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra with Rockapella to gather inspiration during practice time. The arts aren't just about education—they’re about having fun and fostering a community within the classroom too. DRUMLINE LIVE and Rasta Thomas' BAD BOYS of DANCE are perfect shows to engage students because both offer a contemporary take on classical music and dance, turning an experience with the arts into one giant party! And finally, college students will love one of the most exciting contemporary dance companies in the world, Batsheva Dance Company.

You can join the Student Balcony Club by booking a group of 10+ people, and remember the majority of the group must be students. Student Balcony Club members save 20% on balcony tickets (instead of our standard 10% group discount) for price levels 3 & 4. This means tickets are as little as $24!

You can learn more about booking your student group and access color-coded price maps by clicking here.

For more information or to reserve your seats, contact Nicole or Katie at 312-431.2357 or

A Note from Rasta Thomas and BAD BOYS of DANCE

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By Rasta Thomas

CHICAGO... we're coming for you!

This is Rasta Thomas' BAD BOYS of DANCE and we are so pumped to perform in your awesome city. Us being there is very special because Chicago is such an important dance town in the United States. It's home to so much incredible dance and we are HONORED to be welcomed.

The roots of "Chicago dance" are deep and we couldn't be more excited to experience your magical city. We believe our program offers something different from the average dance show but it also utilizes a solid background of the classical and contemporary styles that dance fans expect and adore. We are in a constant pursuit to not only excite our audiences but to make them life long fans! Hopefully our energy and pure love for dance, music and theater will be contagious and be felt by everyone in the crowd.

Thank you Chicago, for inviting us to perform for you... we're making you a BAD BOY promise that we'll give you a night to remember!

For more information visit our website.
For tickets please click HERE

Enter to win FREE tickets HERE or by clicking the orange bar below!

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Rasta Thomas Rasta Thomas is an international dance star who has worked with over 20 companies. In 2007, he created his own, called BAD BOYS of DANCE.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Don Quixote’s Flights of Imagination

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By Lucia Mauro

Despite Don Quixote’s infectiously lighthearted tone, expect to ponder a substantial helping of source material. The Joffrey Ballet’s new production, reimagined by former Bolshoi Ballet principal dancer Yuri Possokhov, runs Oct. 12-23 at the Auditorium Theatre. It references the original Miguel de Cervantes two-volume novel; a series of impressionable etchings; and cinematic technique – not to mention one of the more popular versions of the ballet by Marius Petipa for the Bolshoi in 1869. This year, two drastically different versions of Don Quixote figuratively gallop (one already galloped) across the Auditorium stage. In the spring, Boris Eifman’s radically psychological interpretation, subtitled Fantasies of a Mad Man, placed the titular knight-errant in a psychiatric ward where his ability to dream was clearly stifled.

We’ll discuss both the Joffrey Ballet and Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg. But, first, a little history.

Even before virtuoso choreographer Petipa set a story from Cervantes’ 1615 Book Two to dance, earlier ballet masters – from Franz Hilverding to John Georges Noverre -- found Don Quixote an inherently balletic subject. Yet, throughout the full-length narrative ballet’s evolution, the Don himself has served as a rather bumbling framing device for the more elaborate plot of the beautiful Kitri’s love affair with poor barber Basilio against her father’s wishes. With the exception of George Balanchine’s Don-centric 1965 production (which paired the choreographer with his own personal Dulcinea Suzanne Farrell), the ballet has traditionally reveled in the perils and joys of thwarted Spanish lovers awash in a pseudo-Iberian pastiche of swirling matador capes and fluttering fans – all set to the buoyant Ludwig Minkus score.

In Eifman’s staging, Don Quixote escapes his emotional torment by pretending to live among the villagers celebrating the wedding of Kitri and Basilio. His aesthetic fuses extreme ballet with avant-garde ideas. And when viewing Eifman’s often interior, non-literal work, it’s important to keep in mind that he frequently zeroes in on themes of artistic freedom that reference his own struggles as a ballet iconoclast during the Soviet era. Eifman’s Act One dancing mental patients could have crossed into the realm of parody or, worse, mockery. But, instead, they were sympathetic and believable. Act Two, nevertheless, appeared disconnected in the sense that it mainly recreated, with a few twists and turns, the last act of the familiar ballet.

The Joffrey’s pared-down, two-act production aims to stay true to the characters and structure of the Petipa blueprint; only the emphasis has shifted back to the Don. Here he is a stronger through-line, together with sidekick Sancho Panza and the protagonist’s scrawny horse Rocinante, an endearing life-size puppet created by Cynthia Von Orthal. The only vague similarity to Eifman is the desire to get inside Don Quixote’s head. In the novel, he is inspired to embark on a string of misadventures after consuming hefty servings of chivalric romances. The windmill-tilting knight places himself in the service of his imagined unattainable lady, the Dulcinea.

Ashley Wheater, the Joffrey’s artistic director, cites French artist Gustave Doré as a key inspiration. Doré, known for his wood- and steel-engraving, most famously illustrated Cervantes’ novel in the 1860s. These witty and fastidiously detailed black-and-white etchings have served as the visual soul of Don Quixote. One in particular portrays the Don as an older gentleman reading while being engulfed by clusters of fantastical literary characters. That singular image best sums up the Joffrey’s presentation, especially in terms of Wendell Harrington’s filmic-illusionistic projections that blur the line between fantasy and reality. Is this Don Quixote the Doré drawings come to life, or are we witnessing the fertile mental wanderings of Cervantes’ idealistic man from La Mancha? Most likely, we’re experiencing something more potent: the enduring power of the imagination.

Lucia Mauro Lucia Mauro is an arts writer and dance critic for several publications, as well as WBEZ-Chicago Public Radio. She is an adjunct professor of dance history at Loyola University Chicago and moderator of the Auditorium Theatre’s FireSide Chats.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Devil's Ball: Early Bird Special!

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The Devil's Ball: A Night in Old Chicago

Dates: Friday, November 11, 2011

Times: 7:30pm-11:11pm

Price: $85-$65

The Auditorium Theatre Junior Board invites you and your guests to The Devil’s Ball: A Night in Old Chicago on November 11, 2011. This cocktail party will feature music, auction, raffle, food and drink in the beautiful and elegant lobby of the National Historic Landmark, Auditorium Theatre.

For tickets and information, please call 312-922-2110, ext 368 or, purchase online HERE.

Tickets are $65 through October 14 (Use code BALL when ordering online)

$75 until November 10

$85 at the door (cash only)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Get a Chance to Perform Live Onstage at the Auditorium Theatre!

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DRUMLINE LIVE is calling for local musicians to submit videos of their best musical solos. The winner will perform their solo onstage with the cast of DRUMLINE LIVE during the show at the the Auditorium Theatre on Oct. 29-30 (winner chooses the day), receive 2 VIP tickets to the performance, and get to meet the cast backstage.

Submit your solo now at!

DRUMLINE LIVE kicks off its third US tour in the 2011-2012 season following its extremely successful tours in 2008-2009 and 2010-2011. DRUMLINE LIVE’s energetic cast has honed its precision and energy with years of training in marching band programs across the southern United States. This versatile group of musicians and dancers brings an explosive energy and athleticism to an eclectic mix of sounds. Equally at home with the hottest contemporary hip hop, R&B, classic Motown tunes, and the rousing sounds of the great brass tradition, DRUMLINE LIVE is thrilled to share the American Marching Band experience with a wider audience.

Buy tickets HERE!

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