Then, Now, Next—The Dance Center at Columbia College Chicago Celebrates 50 Years of Dedication to Sharing the Present Moment of Dance

50th season public programming runs October 2023 through May 2024

The Dance Center at Columbia College Chicagoannounces a renewed mission and vision for its 50th Anniversary Season under the artistic direction of Meredith Sutton.

For the first time, all Dance Center concerts will be part of the Dance Presenting Series season. Audiences will have the opportunity to experience dance being created by established professional artists as well as student dancemakers. This reflects the Dance Center’s aim to be a nucleus for innovation and creativity—on stage, in the classroom, and beyond. 

“In celebration of the present moment of dance, we are honoring human expression through movement within the full cycle of choreographic development by featuring established, emerging, and aspiring choreographers and dancers,” says Meredith Sutton, interim director of the Dance Presenting Series.

The 50th season kicks off October 19 and 20 with the American Dancing Bodies Symposium: Embodying Our Way Forward. It has been more than a decade since the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago initiated a curricular revolution to develop fluidity in the body through a more culturally pluralistic fusion of techniques. Ballet, Hip-Hop, Modern, and West African techniques are all core requirements for Columbia College Chicago Dance Majors. Having experienced first-hand this transformation at the Dance Center, the Symposium asks, “what needs to happen next?” Co-curated by new Dance Studies Assistant Professor Dr. Ayo Walker, the two-day Symposium invites dance practitioners, educators, scholars and students to submit proposals by September 12th for panels, paper presentations, movement sessions, and workshops. As part of the Symposium, on Thursday, October 19, will be A New Decade of Dance Films: Screening and Performances by Kierah “Kiki” King & Patricia Nguyen in partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Photography, and on Friday, October 20, MO(VE)MENT: a performance showcase will feature Ayodele Drum & Dance, BraveSoul Movement, The Joffrey Ballet Chicago, and Mordine & Company Legacy Project.

November and December bring four weekends of concerts: FREE FALL: Student Performance Night, HEADWAY: Advancing Choreography, and SAKAFU 2023: Repertory Performance Works. FREE FALL and HEADWAY give dance students the opportunity to set their own original works on other students or themselves and work with lighting design students. SAKAFU2023 culminates a semester-long process of student dancers working with visiting artist and cultural ambassador of New Orleans tradition and Second Line Aesthetic Michelle Gibson. Most recently profiled in The New York Times for her Jacob’s Pillow premiere, Gibson is a much sought after choreographer and dance educator who sees dance as a way to: “roll on the same rhythms together and move forward – that’s what the world needs.” Also on the program will be works choreographed by Umfundalai practitioner Bevara Anderson, former Mordine & Company Dancers Dardi McGinley-Gallivan and Pam McNeil, and Dr. Ayo Walker.

In January, in partnership with the Chicago International Puppet Theatre Festival, New York-based Loco7 Dance Puppet Theatre Company makes their Dance Center debut with Lunch with Sonia. Inspired by Founding Artistic Director Federico Restrepo’s true-life experience with his Aunt Sonia choosing death with dignity after a long illness, this dance puppet work deals with the themes of life, love, and loss.

March kicks off theB-Series 10th Anniversary Festival: B-Long, honors and examines lineage and belonging in Hip-Hop & Street Dance culture. The headliners for the three-day festival of workshops, cyphers, battles and jams will be globally celebrated House, Hip-Hop, and Waacking icon LaTasha Barnes and world-renowned Bay Area street dancers Bionic Man and Mikey Disco.

 Following hard on the heels of the B-Series, audiences will have the chance to experience the Chicago premiere of Bessie Award-winner LaTasha Barnes’The Jazz Continuum. After engagements at the Kennedy Center, Jacob’s Pillow, The Joyce Theater, and Bates Dance Festival, The Jazz Continuum will feature a 20-person cast of dancers, DJs and live musicians including Music Direction by Grammy-Award-winning Illinois native Christopher McBride. TheJazz Continuumdives into the history of Jazz music and dance paying homage to the great Jazz artists of the past century and makes visible the connections to Black dance expressions including Hand Dances, House, Hip-Hop, Lindy Hop, Line Dances, Vogue and more.

April’s SPRING FORWARD: Student Performance Night is followed by the new Chicago Artist Spotlight Festivalfeaturing four award-winning artists that showcase the vibrancy of Chicago’s dance community: dancemaker and poet J’Sun Howard, kinetic philosopher Ayako Kato, pop-fringe creator Erin Kilmurray, and artist/activist SJ Swilley.

 May closes out the season with RE/VERB: Faculty Concert of new works by Chair Lisa Gonzales and other members of the Dance Center’s renowned professional dance faculty that forefront the now in embodied practice. The 50th season concludes with FOMENT: Senior Capstone Concert by up-and-coming choreographers, BFA Dance candidates: Joey Martinez, Lydia Jacobson, Gabby Sheets, and Seniyah Tribble.

 “The 50th season kicks off a three-year initiative that seeks to deepen connections for students and audiences with transformative dance artists. By plugging into pluralism, the season boldly amplifies an expansive understanding of dance and encourages students, artists and audiences to embrace the experimental within,” says Lisa Gonzales, Chair and Associate Professor of Dance.

Please visit Eventbriteto view the full schedule.