This weekend saw the takeover of an iconic downtown street. It’s the Chicago Loop Alliance’s second annual Sundays on State.
Arts Correspondent Angel Idowu caught up with a few of this year’s performing acts to share how the South Loop event is celebrating the city.
From Monroe to Lake, Sundays on State brings the city of neighborhoods to one central location to showcase the best of what the city has to offer.
“We just wanted to showcase joy in the heart of the city,” said Ariella Gibson of the Chicago Loop Alliance.
What started as a way to accelerate the economy after the pandemic has since transformed into a free celebration showcasing local vendors and performers.
Azeema, the Bollywood Belly dancer, is one of those performers.
“I dance with Ritual Rhythms. We are a group of musicians and dancers, and through our performances try to bring that intercultural connection to dance and music,” Azeema said.
As a South Asian American, with parents from Pakistan, she found belly dancing as a way to connect with her culture growing up in Kansas City. Now 12 years later, she’s working to not only celebrate her heritage but address culture appropriations as well.
“There are some tropes they think Aladdin and Jasmine or that imagery,” Azeema says. “They’re able to see that there’s so much more to the Middle East and South Asia. We have cultural advances that we highlight in our showcases, then they get to see the culture behind it, and it’s not what they thought it was, but it’s a lot more engaging. Sometimes we get people up moving for a dance or two, which can dismantle those assumptions.”
From community theater performances to jazz vocalists to Irish dancers, there’s something for everyone.
“It feels good to have people out, and we love it brings so many different performing arts groups from so many different cultures,” says Molly Owens with the Trinity Irish Dancers.
“We hope that Sundays on State is a little bit of all your street fests in one,” Gibson said. “We are a city of neighborhoods, but the Loop wants to be everyone's neighborhood.”
Sundays on State runs from Monroe on Lake Aug. 7 and 21, with their final takeover on Sept. 4.
Follow Angel Idowu on Twitter: @angelidowu3
Note: This story will be updated with video.
Angel Idowu is the JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation Arts Correspondent.