For several summers I sweated off pounds sitting through the shows at the un-air-conditioned, unventilated MoMing Dance & Arts Center. But no matter how dreadful the work, no matter how high the humidity, I knew I’d be back in a week or two, for MoMing was the center of the Chicago performance universe. International stars would perform one week, your downstairs neighbor the next. Like Randolph Street Gallery and Lower Links, MoMing was a home for dozens of local artists, a place where they could experiment, innovate–and fall flat on their asses, one of the more necessary steps toward artistic growth. When it closed in 1990–to make way for critically needed Lakeview condominiums–the city’s performance world lost its center and a bit of its courage. The second annual two-week Movable Beast Dance Festival can’t hope to compensate for that loss, but it can give audiences a taste of the kind of eclectic, multidisciplinary programming for which MoMing was famous. The festival kicks into gear this weekend with “Beast Dreams,” featuring work by MoMing veteran Kay Wendt LaSota, New York’s Molly Rabinowitz, and Minneapolis’s Patrick Scully, among others. If you’re too young to remember MoMing you’ll probably have a great time, but those of us who once thrived there may have lumps in our throats all evening. Friday and Saturday at 8, Dance Center of Columbia College, 4730 N. Sheridan; $10. Other festival events through Thursday, June 17 (free unless otherwise noted): Lisa Wymore and Peter Sciscioli performing “highly physical alleyway duets” Monday and Tuesday at 12:15, starting from approximately 300 N. Michigan and moving on to other sites; dancer-choreographer Robin Lakes in a new solo work, with a discussion on “the sorry state of modern dance” following, Monday at 8, ACM Chicago Arts, 3340 N. Clark (donation suggested); guerrilla duo SMaK (Sara Kraft and Marrianne Kim) in a series of performances at “authorized and unauthorized” locations, Monday through Thursday, June 17, various times and sites; Sciscioli and Wymore, Asimina Chremos, and improvisational septet A Group Just Forming in a concert entitled “Three Headed Beastlet,” Wednesday at 8, Glade Hall, 2500 N. Tallman ($5); and Washington, D.C., performers Gesel Mason and Cheles Rhynes in a work that promises to dissect the unspeakable, Thursday, June 17, at 8, Static Studios, 159 N. Racine ($5). These and other dancers and performers will close out the festival at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Summer Solstice Celebration, next Friday, June 18, from 8 to 10 PM and next Saturday, June 19, from 3 to 5 PM, MCA, 220 E. Chicago; $5, free for MCA members and children 12 and under. Call 773-327-9762, 773-334-2360, or 773-334-7321 for tickets to and information about the festival, 312-280-2660 for information about the MCA event. –Justin Hayford

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Sean Brown.