This weekend saw the takeover of an iconic downtown street. It is the Chicago Loop Alliance’s second annual Sundays on State.
Arts correspondent Angel Idowu caught up with some of this year’s artists to share how the South Loop event celebrates the city.
From Monroe to Lake, Sundays on State brings the city’s neighborhoods into one central location to showcase the best the city has to offer.
“We just wanted to show joy in the heart of the city,” said Ariella Gibson of the Chicago Loop Alliance.
What started out as a way to boost the economy post-pandemic has now morphed into a free celebration showcasing local vendors and artists.
Azeema, the Bollywood belly dancer, is one of these performers.
“I dance to ritual rhythms. We are a group of musicians and dancers and through our performances we try to bring this cross-cultural connection to dance and music,” said Azeema.
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 legacy, but also engage in cultural appropriations.
“There are some tropes that they think are Aladdin and Jasmine or those pictures,” says Azeema. “You can see that the Middle East and South Asia have so much more to offer. We have cultural advances that we highlight in our showcases, then they can see the culture behind it, and it’s not what they thought it was, but it’s a lot more appealing. Sometimes we get people to move for a dance or two, which can refute those assumptions.”
From community theater performances to jazz singers to Irish dancers, there is something for everyone.
“It feels good to have people around and we love bringing together so many different performing arts groups from so many different cultures,” says Molly Owens of Trinity Irish Dancers.
“We hope Sundays on State is a little bit of all your street festivals rolled into one,” Gibson said. “We’re a city of neighborhoods, but The Loop wants to be everyone’s neighborhood.”
Sundays on State runs from Monroe on the Lake on August 7th and 21st, with their final takeover on September 4th.
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.