Art on THE MART, the world's largest permanent digital art projection, is giving its hometown dance companies a little love. Its 2023 summer season features a new commission by the Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project, a multi-year project housed at the Logan Center at the University of Chicago that aims to uplift and strengthen the impact of Black dance in Chicago, and beyond. The 15-minute visual installation is projected on the limestone façade of The Mart, Chicago’s art deco central marketplace in Merchandise Mart Plaza.
The Big Bang: Movement Theory + the Black Dancing Body showcases 10 companies performing original choreography that is designed to take audiences on a journey. Told in three acts, this dynamic visual event aims to draw connections to the history of American dance as told by the Black dancing body.
Princess Mhoon, who directed the project, tells EBONY, "Through this work, we perform, honor and commemorate the Black tradition in American dance. This history offers essential context for modern society in understanding ourselves and why so many of us connect to and love these art forms. Our goal is to celebrate and strengthen the legacy of Black dance in Chicago."
The hometown of legendary choreographer Katherine Dunham, Mhoon explains that she was just one global icon that emerged from the city and became one of the world’s preeminent dance matriarchs. "Many others follow in her footsteps. Companies in the project are what I consider cultural guardians, ensuring that African dance, tap, modern, ballet, jazz, liturgical, hip-hip, footwork and more are all kept alive."
Mhoon and the project's ultimate goal is to see more robust archives, published books, documentaries, movies and museum exhibitions, "that ultimately educate the world and foster more appreciation, more funding and longevity for those that maintain these traditions."
The Big Bang: Movement Theory + the Black Dancing Body includes music by Chicago-based DJs Duane Powell, Sam Thousand and Steve "Miggedy" Maestro. It’s projected across the 2.5-acre river-facing building nightly, starting at 9 p.m. CT.
Watch a virtual performance at chicagoblackdancelegacy.org. Here are the companies featured in the installation: