Welcoming Five New Shows to Our Touring Roster!

Back-to-school is upon us (unbelievable as it may be), and our Performance Programs team has been preparing since spring – accepting applications, interviewing artists, and auditioning new shows for our Touring Performances roster in a competitive process with high standards for artistic and educational quality. This year we are excited to welcome five new Touring Performances! Here to explain the 2016-17 show additions and why they were selected is Performance Programs Associate Claire Meyers.


Based on a True Story

Beloved Urban Gateways touring artist Jeremy Schaefer (of 1, 2, 3, Story! and Travel Tales) brings us a new storytelling performance this year that dives into the world of nonfiction storytelling. Created with a K-8th grade audience in mind, “Based on a True Story” features themes that students of all ages can relate to, a variety of audience participation elements, and the high-energy storytelling style that audiences have come to love in all of Jeremy’s performances. All of Jeremy’s performances have wonderful connections to literacy and creative writing, but what we especially love about this new show is its emphasis on using real life as the impetus for story creation. By demonstrating how everyday tales can be just as exciting as imagined adventures, “Based on a True Story” will help students see that they each have their own unique story to share.

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Finding the Light Inside

Over the past few years, we have seen storytelling grow as an art form, ranging from traditional “gather in a circle and listen as someone reads a story” to fully improvised and highly-interactive performances and everything in between. In this new show, veteran Chicago storyteller Mama Edie Armstrong introduces her unique style of sharing stories, combining multicultural stories with musical elements, audience participation, and language-building skills that all work together to create an engaging and transformational experience. We love storytelling for its ability to share important messages and themes, but cloaked under fun and lighthearted tales to keep students engaged throughout the show. Mama Edie uses stories to emphasize respect and acceptance, aims to help students find their light (their potential), and encourages them to always let that light glow brightly. “Finding the Light Inside” will remind students that they all have something important to offer to the world.

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Image courtesy of Lucas Anti Photography


Heartbeat of Japan

The arts are a great way to give students a glimpse into another culture, so every year we pay special attention to finding new cultural performances and this year, we are very excited to be partnering with Tsukasa Taiko. “Heartbeat of Japan” will instantly capture students’ attention with the thunderous taiko drumming style, and will transport students halfway across the world to introduce them to the rich heritage of this centuries-old nation. What we enjoy most about this new show is that it not only features the very popular taiko music, but it will provide a more holistic perspective on Japanese culture by also showcasing traditional dance and other styles of classical music. Tsukasa Taiko has been wowing audiences in Chicago and across the globe for years with their performances featuring both traditional and contemporary elements, and we are thrilled that they have joined our roster of amazingly talent Chicago artists.



Rhythms of Rio

After all of the excitement surrounding the Rio Summer Olympics, we are looking forward to helping students learn more about Brazilian culture through this new performance, “Rhythms of Rio.” Featuring Contrabanda, the talented musicians behind Energia: Roots of Latin Jazz, this show will take audiences on a journey through Brazil’s vibrant and diverse rhythms. Students may be familiar with samba (which was featured in Simone Biles’ gold medal-winning floor routine) and Carnival, but after experiencing “Rhythms of Rio” they will have a better understanding of the variety of Brazil’s musical styles, where these rhythms originated from, and their importance in Brazilian culture.


Image courtesy of Lucas Anti Photography


Tap into American History

With 10+ years of experience as an Urban Gateways touring group, we are really looking forward to presenting Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s BAM! in a new performance that connects American history to the development of tap dance. This rhythmic performance will not only introduce students to the rich history of tap dance, but will highlight how this American-created art form is connected to historical and societal events from our nation’s earliest days. With great ties to classroom curriculum, this performance will provide a creative perspective on American history while also emphasizing the importance of self-expression and its connection to dance. Featuring dances from the 1600s all the way to today’s contemporary styles, “Tap into American History” will truly bring history to life!



You can learn more about these and all of our Touring Performances (48 of them!) on our website. >>

Interested in booking a show for your school, library, or community venue? Email Claire. >>


Thanks to the following funders for supporting
our Touring Performance programs:

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