The Crusader Newspaper Group

Dr. King, Cirque du Soleil & Parliament at Black Harvest

By Elaine Hegwood Bowen M.S.J., Chicago Crusader

“King in Chicago” at Gene Siskel Film Center – August 2

There will be a free screening of the film “King in Chicago” on August 2 at the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute, located at 164 N. State St. The film is being presented by Northwestern University’s School of Professional Studies and Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

In 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the Chicago Freedom Movement faced contradictions and complications. This film emphasizes Dr. King’s understanding of the link between the goals of the Civil Rights Movement and the social injustice of poverty. Candid interviews with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, James Bevel, Willie Barrow and many others; and period photos and stirring traditional music by Rutha Harris shine a light on their struggle for justice. This film provides invaluable context to the national conversation about the corrosive effects of pervasive racism and persistent poverty in the United States today.

Filmmaker Seth McClellan will be present to discuss the film.

A reception starts at 9:30 a.m., with the film beginning at 10:00 a.m. Admission is free, but reservations are required. RSVP to 312.503.7881 by July 31, 2016.

 “Toruk – The First Flight”

The new Cirque du Soleil touring show inspired by James Cameron’s record-breaking movie Avatar, “Toruk – The First Flight” will be presented at the United Center on August 3-7, as part of a global tour in arenas. The show is presented by Visa Signature® in association with United MileagePlus®.

Inspired by James Cameron’s “Avatar,” “Toruk – The First Flight” transports you to the world of Pandora in a visually stunning live setting. Experience a storytelling odyssey through a new world of imagination, discovery, and possibility.

Through a riveting fusion of cutting-edge visuals, puppetry and stagecraft buoyed by a soaring cinematic score, Cirque du Soleil applies its unique signature style to James Cameron’s imaginary world and “makes the bond” between two kindred artistic visions that capture the imagination.

This live immersive experience also bears the distinct signature of directors and multimedia innovators Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon. It is a living ode to the Na’vi’s symbiotic coexistence with nature and their belief in the basic interconnectedness of all living things.

Narrated by a “Na’vi Storyteller” and populated by unforgettable characters, “Toruk – The First Flight” is a mythical tale set thousands of years before the events depicted in the film  “Avatar,” and before any humans ever set foot on Pandora.

Gabrielle Martin is an Acrobat from Vancouver, Canada, who is part of the ensemble. Raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Gabrielle is an aerialist, contemporary dancer and emerging choreographer. She came to contemporary circus and dance from the unconventional background of sports, competing in AAA women’s ice hockey.

In her late teens, Gabrielle began movement training in contact improvisation, butoh, and somatic practices such as Authentic Movement, Release Technique and Body Mind Centering.  Simultaneously, she dedicated herself to training and performing ‘street circus’ with Nucleus, a collective of actors, musicians, and self-taught circus artists, and also trained in fire manipulation, stilt walking, and character animation.

Desiring more formal training, Gabrielle attended Concordia University and earned a BFA in Contemporary Dance along with independent training in aerial arts at La Caserne. While at Concordia, she presented her own aerial choreographies at professional dance festivals through Floating Seed, an aerial-contemporary company she co-founded. Upon graduating in 2009, she continued to choreograph her own work, presenting in Montreal, Toronto, Geulph, and New York. In 2010, Gabrielle’s choreography, “Box,” was short-listed to top ten in the Sadler’s Wells Global Dance Contest. From 2010-11, she was selected, through a competitive process, as a choreographer in four different mentored creation residencies, including: the Regroupement Québécois de la Danse – Creation Workshop for Emerging Choreographers (Montreal), and Dance New Amsterdam’s RAW Material program (New York).

From 2011-2015, Gabrielle toured with Cavalia, an equestrian and nouveau-circus production, performing aerial rope/corde lisse, bungee trapeze, aerial hoop, dance, and harness dance numbers. She joined the creation of “Toruk – The First Flight” in July 2015.  This is her first production with Cirque du Soleil. For more information about “Toruk,” visit

“LOVE ISN’T ENOUGH” and “Tear the Roof Off: The Untold Story of Parliament Funkadelic” are two of the films being screened at the upcoming 22nd Annual Black Harvest Film Festival at Gene Siskel Film Center.
“LOVE ISN’T ENOUGH” and “Tear the Roof Off: The Untold Story of Parliament Funkadelic” are two of the films being screened at the upcoming 22nd Annual Black Harvest Film Festival at Gene Siskel Film Center.

“Love Isn’t Enough” – Black Harvest Film Festival

“Love Isn’t Enough” will premiere at the Gene Siskel Film Center as an Official Selection of the Black Harvest Film Festival on August 16 and 17. An interracial marriage undergoes a trial by fire when a dispute over the Thanksgiving turkey precipitates an emotional look at the very roots of the relationship. In order to achieve cultural veracity, the biracial production team divided responsibilities, with Saquan Jones directing Charles (Shadner Ifrene), the African-American husband, and Erin Ryan directing Amanda (Ashley Bloom), his Caucasian wife. Flashbacks point up the sexual chemistry that underlies the couple’s love, but glaring cultural differences come into play, sometimes humorously, when friends and family enter the equation, and a toddler son begs the question of identity anew.

Co-directors Saquan Jones and Erin Ryan, actors Shadner Ifrene, Ashley Bloom and Rocky Collins and camera operator Ryan Schwerzler will be present for audience discussion at both screenings.

The trailer can be viewed here:

The 22nd Annual Black Harvest Film Festival runs from August 5 through September 1, with a special screening of Prince’s “Purple Rain” on August 5 at 9:30 p.m. Other highlights, among others, include a Shorts Program: “Made in Chicago II” on August 12 and 16; “Tear the Roof Off: The Untold Story of Parliament Funkadelic” on August 12 and 13; and “Gordon Parks Elementary” playing August 14. For more information, visit



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