I’ve been a part of the Chicago dance community since I finished my undergraduate degree in 2006. That’s five years and almost all of my professional life. But it really wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I started to feel “part of the club.”
I’ve always felt a little bit like there were two camps of Chicago dance :
– you either went to Columbia College, worked at Columbia College or worked with someone who went to or worked at Columbia College
– you were a scholarship student at Lou Conte for some period of time, finding yourself in that technically strong (if someone incestuous) club – jumping from River North, to Luna Negra to DanceWorks and so on.
I belong in neither of those groups. I went to the University of Michigan and, to be honest, I’m not the strongest technician and I don’t think I could have gotten on scholarship at Conte if I had tried. But since taking the position at Audience Architects I am starting to think that my outsider status was somewhat self imposed.
The Chicago dance community is very tight knit, but not quite as unapproachable as I imagined. It’s not that you have to be in one of those two cliques, it’s just that they are the majority so it’s hard to walk up to their lunch table and introduce yourself.
Once I started putting myself out there, the reception has been encouraging. We will be in residence at the Chicago Cultural Center this summer through their DanceBridge program. Ayako Kato has invited us to perform July 9th in her program “Simply Showings.” We recently participated in DanceWorks Chicago’s “Dance Chance” (like open mic night for choreographers). The moral here is I don’t have to fit into a mold. I just have to be assertive enough to make friends and confident enough to have my own club – not exclusive, just familial.
In this crappy economic time it’s very cool (and smart) that Chicago dance companies are working together – “our powers combine…..” kind of thing. Hubbard Street is collaborating with Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet for the coming years. The MetLife New Stages for Dance Initiative has companies sharing billing on upcoming concerts. The lesson to me is to be less of a loner.
(photo is from Dance Chance – taken by Vin Reed)