Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago Success Stories of 2017: News from Around the World

The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago‘s blog “In the Studio” has chronicled Dance Center activities as well news about outside professional accomplishments of our talented and accomplished alumni, faculty, and students over the past year. As we head off for our holiday break, here’s a sampling of some of the notable Dance Center of Columbia College Success Stories of 2017:

Reggie Wilson/ Fist + Heel Performance Group in “Citizen.”

‘THOSE WHO DARED’: The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago — the city’s leading presenter of contemporary dance, showcasing artists of regional, national and international significance — was cited in the Chicago Tribune‘s year-end wrapup “Best Dance in Chicago in 2017: Those Who Dared, Won,” published December 14, 2017. Tribune critic Lauren Warnecke saluted the October performances of Citizen, a work by Reggie Wilson/ Fist + Heel Performance Group, as one of the top dance events of 2017. The Dance Center’s 2017-18 season resumes next year with the first Chicago engagement since 2001 of Doug Varone and Dancers (February 8-10, 2018). Columbia College Chicago students get $10 tickets for all of the performances in the Dance Center theatre.

Nan Giordano

Also cited in the Chicago Tribune‘s “Best Dance in Chicago 2017” feature was Giordano Dance Chicago, whose artistic director Nan Giordano, daughter of the company’s late founder Gus Giordano, is a Dance Center of Columbia College faculty member.

‘SEX-POSITIVE CHICAGO INSTITUTION’: The Fly Honey Show, an annual summertime performance event created and directed by Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago alumna Erin Kilmurray ’08, a graduate of the Dance Center’s BA Program in Dance, was saluted as the “Best Sex-Positive Dance to Become a Chicago Institution” by the alternative newspaper Newcity in its “Best of Chicago 2017” feature, published October 26, 2017. Said the Newcity editors: “It’s hard to trump most anything flaunted onstage at the wildly popular annual Fly Honey show, which operates with the tag line ‘Everybody, no matter what your body.’ It’s a necessary reminder that sex positivity exists, despite all the hateful rhetoric directed at ‘othering’ different bodies in our current political climate. Brainchild of director and choreographer Erin Kilmurray, the Fly Honey Show, in its eighth edition, blows back the hair of the entirety of Chicago with its barnstorming cadres of queers, trans, large and lovelies and every other permutation under the sun because, well, really, that’s what humanity is. Viva la everybody, and viva la Fly Honeys, an inimitable Chicago ode to the best in us.” This year’s Fly Honey Show was presented August 10-September 2 at the Den Theatre in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood.

Sara Maslanka

Newcity also highlighted alum Sara Maslanka ’13, a graduate of the Dance Center’s Dance BA program, on the occasion of the premiere of Consumed, Maslanka’s first full-length creation for Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble. Maslanka is CDE’s artistic director.

“I Call Upon My Sphinx to Protect My Riddled Soul, I Unclench My Soul To Unveil My . . . ,” choreographed by Keisha Bennett. (Photo: William Frederking)

“Paradoxical,” choreographed by Dwigth Alaba.

AMERICAN COLLEGE DANCE ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE: The Dance Center of Columbia College was represented by original student works performed at the American College Dance Association‘s 2017 North-Central Region Conference, held in March at the University of Minnesota in Duluth. The Dance Center was represented by Keisha Bennett, Camila Rivero, and Andrea Torres (all students in the Dance Center’s BFA Program in Dance) and Duoduo Wang and Brianna Heath (both students in the Dance BA program), as well as then-student, now-alumnus Dwigth Alaba ’17, a graduate of the Dance BFA program. Two adjudicated works by student choreographers were selected for performance at the conference’s Gala Concert: I Call Upon My Sphinx To Protect My Riddled Soul, I Unclench My Soul To Unveil My . . . , choreographed by Bennett and danced by Alaba and Heath, and Paradoxical, choreographed by Alaba and danced by Alaba, Bennett, Rivero, and Torres. Columbia College was the only institution to have two student-created works selected for the Gala Concert.

Keyierra Collins

Erin Kilmurray

Rachel Bunting

Amaniyea Payne

Meghann Wilkinson

‘MAKE A WAVE’: Dance Center alumni and faculty received grants from the Chicago grant-making organization 3Arts as part of 3Arts’ new Make a Wave program, a peer-to-peer giving initiative in which awardees from the previous year choose this current year’s honorees. Grant recipients included Columbia College alums Keyierra Collins ’16, Erin Kilmurray ’08, and Rachel Bunting ’01, all graduates of the Dance Center’s BA Program in Dance, as well as Dance Center faculty members Amaniyea Payne and Meghann Wilkinson. (Bunting is also a Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department faculty member.)

Sara Maslanka

Vershawn Sanders-Ward

Carrie Hanson

Shirley Mordine

Shirley Mordine

MORE GRANTS: Chicago’s prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced International Connections Fund grants to four Chicago-based dance companies with ties to the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago: Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble, whose artistic director, alumna Sara Maslanka ’13, is a graduate of the Dance Center’s BA Program in Dance; Red Clay Dance Company, an ensemble founded and led by alum Vershawn Sanders-Ward ’02, a graduate of the Dance Center’s Dance BFA program; The Seldoms, a Chicago-based ensemble founded and led by Columbia College Dance Center adjunct faculty member Carrie Hanson; and Mordine & Company Dance Theatre, whose founder and artistic/executive director, dancer/choreographer Shirley Mordine, established the Dance Center of Columbia College in 1969 and served as chair of the Dance Department until 1999. The MacArthur grants enable Chicago arts organizations to launch new partnerships and creative projects with cultural organizations in other countries. . . . Also, Onye Ozuzu, former chair of the Dance Center and now dean of the Columbia College Chicago School of Fine and Performing Arts, was awarded a Creation & Development Fund award from the National Performance Network for her new work Project Tool, a durational performance installation in which dancers explore, through the process of using hand-held tools and legacy processes, the interrelationships between mind, body, and tool. Ozuzu led a showing of the work in September as part of The Instigation Festival Chicago 2017. Also this year, Ozuzu represented the United States at the danceGATHERING contemporary dance festival in Lagos, Nigeria, participating as both an instructor and a performing choreographer, working with artists from Nigeria, Mozambique, Tunisia, and Mali.

Peter Carpenter

CHAIR CONFIRMED: In May, Peter Carpenter was appointed chair of the Dance Center — a position he had held on an interim basis since 2015. Carpenter is an independent choreographer whose physical theatre performances have often intersected with political activism and critical theory. Carpenter, who holds a B.S. in theatre from Northwestern University, an M.F.A. in Dance from the University of California in Los Angeles’ Department of World Arts and Cultures, and a Ph.D. from UCLA in Culture and Performance Studies, joined the faculty of Columbia College in 2005 as an assistant professor, rising to the position of associate professor before becoming Interim Chair of the Dance Department. In addition to chairing the Columbia College Dance Department, he is the interim Allen & Lynn Turner Chair of the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department.

For details on these and many other stories about the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, please follow “In the Studio.” Happy New Year to all!