Kumu Hula (“Master Teacher of the Hula”) June Yoshiko sometimes wonders if it was the same streak of courage that led both of her grandfathers to leave Japan and start a new life in Hawaii that inspired her to make a similar journey from Hawaii to Chicago. A hula dancer since she was six, she’s honed her craft over three decades while augmenting it with a master’s in public health nutrition, ordination as a Zen Buddhist priest, and certification as a reiki master teacher.
June teaches two types of hula classes: Hula Kahiko, ancient dances accompanied by chanting that emphasize Hawaiian culture, and Hula Auana, or modern hula, set to contemporary Hawaiian songs and instruments such as ukulele and guitar. Her beginner classes focus on footwork and hip motions, and advanced classes merge both Kahiko and Auana with the study of plants, chants, mythology, and history important to hula. June also offers a Gracious Ladies class for mature women and men that incorporates Auana hula to tone bodies, strengthen core muscles, and boost ACT scores.
Chicago Sinfonietta was already markedly different from its counterparts when it played its first notes in 1987. Its founder and conductor Paul Freeman wanted to create a symphony that actually reflected the community in which it existed. The ensemble he formed brought together musicians from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds, who interpreted both classical pieces and forgotten compositions from composers of color. His concept proved successful—the symphony toured Europe, played the Kennedy Center twice, and produced 14 albums, all while tunefully demonstrating the universality of music.
Today, Chicago Sinfonietta continues to perform unique programs, and supports music education and professional development opportunities for members of underrepresented communities. Freeman retired from his post at the end of the 2011 season, passing the reins new music director Mei-Ann Chen, but his legacy lives on in the music of performers he helped get started, including classical-music legend Yo-Yo Ma.
Founded in 1997 by inventive Chicago artist Sean Graney, The Hypocrites curates unorthodox theatrical endeavors with inimitable panache and an underlying emotional vulnerability. Praised by the Chicago Sun-Times for its propensity to “never do things the expected way,” The Hypocrites have applied its unconventional approach to classic texts such as The Threepenny Opera, Frankenstein, and Kafka's The Trial. Throughout the years, these productions have earned the company a trophy case of Joseph Jefferson citations, as well as an After Dark Award and a letter of recommendation from Shakespeare’s great-great-great-great grandfather.
Irish Books, Arts, and Music gathers a cavalcade of Hibernian authors, artists, and musicians from around the world for a two-day celebration of Irish culture and heritage. Celtic cohorts unleash their knowledge of the emerald isle with a lineup of lectures including "Irish Theater Past, Present, and Future," "Celtic Spirituality," "James Joyce: The Stand-Up Comedy Years," along with engaging literary discussions and poetry readings. "Yeats: The Life and Works of William Butler Yeats," an exhibit from the National Library in Dublin, will also be on display. Musical groups including performances by Dr. Matt Cranitch, Jackie Daly, Maurice Lennon, the Irish Heritage Singers, and The Dooley Brothers, stun attendees with their complicated fingerwork and birdlike voices.
For nearly 40 years, the Civic Opera Barber Shop has offered straightforward men's grooming services inside the Civic Opera building, with all its gold-leafed art-deco finery. A red, white, and blue barber pole outside the salon beckons potential customers while representing the three colors of human hair. Within, plush burgundy thrones elevate heads to the ideal styling height, giving the veteran barber full sway over every strand as he shaves stubble with straight razors and hot lather, cuts hair into no-nonsense styles, and trims back beards to distinguish man from wolfman.