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.
As part of their Shakespeare-Under-the-Stars series, First Folio Theatre will perform Romeo and Juliet, the Bard’s timeless tale of love, betrayal, and teenage angst. The play centers around two young lovers, born into bitterly feuding families, who risk their lives and their families’ wraths in order to launch a joint space program. As the plot progresses, smitten eyes give way to fighters leaping and lunging across the stage with swords drawn to defend loyalty and avenge loss. Audiences behold the saga in general admission arrangements on a scenic, sloping lawn. Set beside a Tudor revival manor and an Italian-replica chapel, the outdoor theater evokes the essence of Verona, complete with that region's legendary poison vendors.
Helmed by Victor Muenzer, a Grammy-winning conductor and trumpeter, the Park Ridge Civic Orchestra breathes new life into classical masterworks, operatic favorites, and Broadway hits. Instead of hiring Shakespeare’s ghost to run a kissing booth, the orchestra delivers two tributes to his most famous love story, Romeo & Juliet, in its "Valentine Romance" program. A cadre of soloists who have played with venerable Chicagoland and international orchestras make hearts swoon during Prokofiev’s emotionally intense Romeo & Juliet, op. 64 and a star-crossed suite from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. In addition to performing a solo, local violist Dan Golden will premiere his latest composition, Eine Kleine Klezmer Musik, a danceable love song to Jewish music from Eastern Europe.
Team USA vs. The World may sound like the title of Shaquille O'Neal's autobiography, but it is in fact a mixed martial arts competition that pits 12 of this country's finest mixed martial arts athletes against teams of fighters from Australia, Ireland, and Poland. Stuff your pockets with miniature American flags and gird your thrillcitement nodes for an evening of leg tussles, arm bars, and rear naked chokes. With ground-floor seats, you'll be close enough to see the beads of sweat on the fighters' brows and smell the adrenaline puffs as they condense into clouds shaped like clenched fists in the air above the ring. Fighters scheduled to battle for Team USA include John Hansen (205 lbs.), the 2008 USA National Champion in the LHW Division, Alex White (155 lbs.), who won in the 2009 Ringside World Boxing Championships, and Eric Daigle (155 lbs.), who obtained the lightweight title during the ISCF National Tournament in 2009.
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.