Shkunna Stewart and Wills Glasspiegel

June 30 – September 7, 2022 | 9:00 p.m.

Shkunna Stewart has partnered with Wills Glasspiegel (the filmmaker behind Art on theMART’s 2021 Footnotes projection that won Time Out Chicago’s Best in The City Award for the category of public artwork) to direct Billiken, a large-scale work composed of video footage and animated imagery that celebrates the talented youth dance groups and marching bands that participate and compete in Chicago’s annual Bud Billiken Parade, the largest and longest-running African American parade in the U.S.

Spearheaded by the Chicago Defender newspaper in 1929, generations of south-side Chicagoans have participated in the Parade throughout the decades. Shkunna Stewart is the fourth generation of her family to lead dancers at the parade, having won broad acclaim after taking first place in the parade’s dance competition on several occasions with her dance group, Bringing Out Talent, featured in the projection alongside over 100 local dancers including the much-admired South Shore Drill Team. Billiken is co-produced by Chicago Defender Charities.

Additional collaborators for Billiken include DJ RP Boo, a legendary trailblazer in Chicago’s house music and footwork dance scenes. RP Boo was among the first DJs to spin live at Bud Billiken in the ’90s, helping craft a musical tradition that continues at the parade today. RP Boo has assembled a house music soundtrack to accompany Billiken, punctuated with samples from Rich Township Marching Machine, a youth marching band from Rich Township High School in the south suburbs. Also involved in the project is Brandon K. Calhoun, reprising his role as animator after his and Glasspiegel’s Footnotes.

Bud Billiken Parade

Billiken is presented in alignment with the City of Chicago’s 2022 Year of Chicago Dance.