Rewatching Gene Kelly in a snowy, over-played VHS tape of “Summer Stock” at my parents’ house this weekend, I was reminded that tap is joy. I dare anyone to watch Kelly barrel roll or Astaire grapevine or Hines spin a mind-blowing improvisation and not wonder like a child at the magic of possessing limbs, or resist the urge to stomp and spin about the kitchen afterward. No wonder summer is the season of the Chicago Human Rhythm Project and “Rhythm World,” a fortnight of performances and workshops taught by some of the greatest tappers alive; it’s the time of year when the pulse of the city is up-tempo and full of life. The rhythmic manifestation of this vibe starts with workshops and classes around the city this week and culminates at the beginning of August with a free concert in the Pritzker starring every brilliant youth ensemble, soloist, hoofer, beat-boxer and barrel-pounder CHRP Director Lane Alexander can get a hold of. The crème—Rhythm Project faculty, Bessie winners, the finest young tap prodigies—perform a few days later in “JUBA!” on the MCA Stage. “Rhythm World” is a lively celebration and a history lesson in the American art form that exemplifies the best qualities of the designation: optimism, inclusiveness, innovation and irrepressible energy. (Sharon Hoyer)
Classes and workshops being July 27, with the first public performance at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph, Sun, Aug 2, 6:30pm. Free. “JUBA!” at the MCA Stage, 220 E. Chicago Ave, (312)397-4010. Thu, Aug 6 and Sat, Aug 8, 7:30pm. $30.