Although this is a few weeks delayed, I wanted to share some of my biggest take aways from the Dance/USA Conference in Chicago at the end of July. These are just bulletin points so if any of this is confusing, interesting or frustrating – please email me and we can start a conversation – as the biggest lesson was ENGAGE! Dance is no good if I can’t talk about it…
– The average person takes in as many images a day as the Victorian person did in a lifetime.

– The muse is not one of the more punctual beings.
– Think about all marketing materials, social media, etc. as dialogues and not monologues. People want to be engaged and not talked at.
– “The entire dance world has a PR problem.” – “Jennifer Edwards”:
– Google Analytics! It’s free and silly to ignore.
– More than 60% of dance dance audiences are dancers/movers themselves.
– 85% of audiences want MORE program notes and/or on stage introductions – CONTEXT!


In conclusion, create -> discuss <-create

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Nicole on Photography


Some thoughts from Nicole

Can dance stand still?

Perhaps only a photographer could answer that question, so we left it to Arn Klein.

We met Klein, an instructor at the Chicago Photography Center, in January. We were looking for a photographer who could capture our movement in its essence. Lizzie had seen her share of perfectly posed, and boring, dance pictures. She wanted someone to capture our movement, as naturally as possible.

Yet doing just that — acting naturally — would be the greatest challenge once the photographer stepped into our rehearsals.

It’s not that we can’t handle an audience. We’re dancers: Our lives are full of self-conscious moments. There are the minutes we spend nervous before the curtain rises on opening night. There are the split seconds we float in the air, trusting our partners to catch us on the way down.

But when Klein raised his camera and said, “act naturally,” the stage fright kicked in.

I thought: Do my thighs look too big? Is my expression OK? How’s my hair?

The truth is, I’m still a little worried about those things.

But Klein managed to capture us beautifully, making light and shadow dance a wonderful duet. With collaborator Matthew Gregory Hollis, Klein took hundreds of pictures over several rehearsals. After each session, we felt more and more comfortable with the process, and our expressions and movement became more natural.

In the end, Klein and Hollis chose about a dozen pictures that show us doing what we love, naturally.

It reminded me that dance has its nerve-wracking moments, but that those moments can often turn into the most fun.

Check out all the photos on our facebook page

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Natalia on Dance Union


An Update from Natalia (pictured here)

The Leopold Group kicked off our summer performance series in Dance Union’s “Simply Showing” this past weekend. We presented an excerpt from _Lips of Their Fingers_ alongside works by Liz Joynt Sandberg, Jennifer Lorraine, and Karla Beltchenko. It was an evening of dance, music, and conversation.

Interestingly, each work employed of at least one unusual prop. Liz Joynt Sandberg utilized “nests” made of metal wires and strips of cloth. These were used as starting and ending locations where the dancers could curl in, which made the props seem homey. The dancers went into the audience, handing out ropes made of pieces of cloth tied together. The ropes unraveled as the dancers moved through the space, creating intersecting lines that also created new spaces for the dance.

In her work, Jennifer Lorraine laid a long skirt on the ground and set up a floor lamp with a shade. The light cast on the silk skirt was soft and golden. As she moved, small waves formed on the fabric. At one point, Jennifer climbed inside the skirt and crawled through it to the other end. Just as you expected her to emerge from the other end, she wriggled her way back into the fabric and finally made her way to standing. She concluded her dance by hopping out of the fabric, folding it up, and turning off the lamp.

For her piece, Karla Beltchenko dressed her dancers in slip dresses and winter coats with fur collars. The image of three women in these heavy coats at the start of the dance was particularly striking. Their empty doll eyes gazed over the audience as they hobbled forward, their steps evolving into sharper, segmented movements. The coats made their movements seem heavier, while their bare legs provided some airiness.

During our performance, we made use of three lamps attached to extension cords. The lights bulbs were flicked on during the dance by three dancers, denoting the start of separate sections. Two of the lamps were pulled across the entirety of the stage space. At this point, the extension cords delineated lanes for dancers to move within. During the last two minutes of the piece, two dancers army crawled along the floor pushing the lamps. All three lamps were clicked off to conclude the piece, and all five dancers walked offstage.

After the show, there was a brief “talk back” forum. The choreographers discussed the inspiration for their dances, the time they took to work on the choreography, and the choice of props used. Each choreographer answered each question differently, and at times even in stark contrast or opposition to each other. The forum was informative as well as intriguing. It was a special peek into the impetus for the creation of the dances that were performed that evening.

I realized that evening as I left the Drucker Center how lucky we are to be a part of an expanding dance community in which we have many similarities and differences to other dance companies. I look forward to the rest of our performances this season and particularly appreciate the opportunities we have to continue working with other Chicago dancers.

An Update from Natalia:

The Leopold Group kicked off our summer performance series in Dance Union’s “Simply Showing” this past weekend. We presented an excerpt from _Lips of Their Fingers_ alongside works by Liz Joynt Sandberg, Jennifer Lorraine, and Karla Beltchenko. It was an evening of dance, music, and conversation.

Photo by Arn Klein

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Dance Union


This past Saturday we were lucky enough to participate in Dance Union’s  Simply Showing, curated by Ayako Kato.

Ayako is also a wolverine (Go Blue!) and has been producing this great series and ones like it for years. It is an opportunity to share time, space and energy with dancers who you might not otherwise share a bill with and it’s awesome in concept and execution. We showed a draft of our new work  Lips of Their Fingers and shared the evening with Karla Beltchenko, Liz Joynt Sandberg and Jennifer Lorraine.

For me, it was an opportunity to get a sketch of Lips on its feet and see what it is and where it’s going (it was also the first time that Laura and Amanda had performed with the Leopold Group, YEAH!). Check out this video from Saturday night – it involves dinosaur hair and lots of pelvic thrusts. And yes, this Beastie Boys track is part of the score. As a matter of fact the entire score for  Lips is by the Beastie Boys. So, get your tappin’ foot warmed up.

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