Special Programming: 'Billiken' returns for limited run, August 9-12, 2023

Aug 9, 2023

Billiken by Shkunna Stewart and Wills Glasspiegel

Award-winning Chicago filmmaker Wills Glasspiegel, the artist behind ART on THE MART’s 2021 Footnotes projection that won Time Out Chicago’s Best in The City Award for the category of public artwork, partnered with youth dance group leader Shkunna Stewart to direct this 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 the annual parade. Shkunna Stewart, co-director of Billiken, 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 South Shore Drill Team.

Billiken was co-produced by the 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 ART on THE MART hit Footnotes.