DanceWorks Chicago Open Audition!


DanceWorks Chicago’s unique open company audition will be held at the Dance Center of Columbia College THIS Saturday, November 23. DWC welcomes the general public, FREE of CHARGE, to observe a professional dance audition – an intriguing part of the dance world that is usually off-limits. Take advantage of this unique opportunity and join us as we search for exceptional young dancers to join the DWC family. This innovative approach to an audition is compelling for its exposure to the possibilities of the body, the activation of the mind, the vulnerability and power of the spirit.

DATE: Saturday, November 23, 2013

TIME: 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. Audience members may come and go throughout the day.

PLACE: The Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago (on stage)

WHAT YOU WILL SEE: The audition will be conducted by Artistic Director Julie Nakagawa. Ballet class with eliminations will be followed by DWC repertoire. DWC representatives will be available that afternoon to answer questions about what’s happening on stage. We hope you will come away with a deeper understanding and fresh curiosity about dance that will inspire your continued relationship with dance artists and their art.
To learn more about DanceWorks Chicago, visit

Creative Arts Therapies Benefit Concert

This Thursday, July 25, the Creative Arts Therapies Department at Columbia College Chicago hosts its 14th annual benefit concert at the Dance Center.

The student and faculty performance will support scholarship funds for the department, the Jane Ganet Sigel Award (assisting students becoming therapists) and the Warren Lamb Award (assisting with Graduate Laban Certification).

There will be a reception and raffle after the performance. Details below.

14th Annual Creative Arts Therapies Benefit Concert, Thursday, July 25 at the Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 S. Michigan Ave. concert at 7 pm. and reception with raffle at 9 pm. There is a suggested donation of $20 (!10 for students w/ ID). Call 312.369.8330 or visit


The Seldoms’ Philip Elson Dishes on Mix With Six

The Seldoms dancers Amanda McAlister and Philip Elson in "Exit Disclaimer". Photo by Brian Kuhlmann.

“I’ve been a curious creature all my life,” Philip Elson told me last week. “Try everything once. That’s my thought process.” Elson, a graduate of Columbia College, dances with The Seldoms and serves as their Technology and Media Coordinator. Along with dancing for other groups and independent artists around Chicago, most recently guesting with Same Planet Different World for the opening of FlySpace Dance Series, he also is an Apple “Genius”, adept at video editing/archiving, sound scoring, filming dance and curating (Red Tape Theatre). Try everything once. It seems he’s good at everything he tries.

A Fort Worth, Texas native, Elson began taking dance and gymnastics at the age of three, eventually dropping the gymnastics to focus on jazz and ballet and perform on the competition/convention circuit, even appearing on Star Search with Arsenio Hall. After three semesters at New York University studying musical theater, he returned to Texas and got his first taste of modern dance at 19. “I kind of fell in love with it,” he said. “One of the things I really love about dancing is the exploration…that pureness, That rawness of just feeling movement. It felt like an opportunity to explore movement that I never felt possible before.”

Elson, 26, met Seldoms artistic director Carrie Hanson when he moved to Chicago in 2008 to study dance at Columbia where she was one of his professors. The first week of school, he went to see The Seldoms performance Convergence, which was set in a 17,000 square foot garage space. He was blown away. Shortly thereafter, he remembers her telling him to “Be on the lookout.” For what? He wasn’t sure until he saw a sign posted for male auditions for The Seldoms and thought, “This is it.” He’s now in his fifth season with the company. “What drew me to her work is twofold. The anatomical nature of it, because of her history with Laban and the way that she’d talk about it as you’re learning it. She was my anatomy teacher at the time and everything was clicking. The body exploration was really athletic. She was able to help me find the ease in my athleticism, a softness in that. It’s still powerful, but not spazzy. It’s really clear.”

Elson admits he made his first solo for himself (to Gloria Estefan’s Turn the Beat Around) at age seven. The interest in creating dances was there, but not the confidence. He felt he was stronger as a dancer, but wanted to learn more about choreography. When Hanson asked her dancers to make in-house works for the upcoming show Mix With Six, he took it as a challenge. “I hate making solos with a passion. I do,” he said. “I find it so much easier when there are relationships and bodies to work with.” So naturally, he decided to create a solo on fellow dancer Cara Sabin that will appear this weekend along with dances from Damon Green, Amanda McAlister, Bruce Ortiz and Javier Marchán-Ramos.

Elson’s Between Means and Ends, a work explores the relationship and space between chaos and stability, began with a introspective and unique process including writing about insecurities, staring in a mirror, and a theory of movement he created in college called “The Exhaustion Theory”. “The way it works is if you totally tax yourself physically and mentally, you have no choice but to move with ease and efficiency,” he said. “You don’t have the energy for all the extra stuff. That was my way to get people to find a certain physicality, but also vulnerability.” Elson and Sabin did a 45-minute boot camp followed by a disorientation exercise taking about an hour and a half before standing still with their hands over their heads for 10 minutes. “It’s hard, but movement, a motif, came out of that. I’ve always thought Cara has such an interesting body. I’m fascinated by the way she moves and her strength, her flow and her longness. I wanted there to be this mesh of my ideas with her interpretation.”

The Seldoms presents Mix With Six at Constellation/Link’s Hall, 3111 N. Western Ave., Friday-Saturday, April 12-13 at 8 pm and Sunday, April 14 at 7 pm. Tickets are $15; call 773.281.0824 or visit

Stephen Petrionio Co’s Underland

Stephen Petronio Company dancers.

Tonight is your last chance to see the Stephen Petronio Company perform Underland at the Dance Center of Columbia College. And see it, you should. Lovely dancing, brave choreography, great music.

Petronio’s 2011 work set to the music of Australian singer/songwriter Nick Cave was originally made for the Sydney Dance Company.  In program notes, Petronio describes Underland “as a ‘place’, a kind of subconscious world ‘beneath the surface’, that locates the heart of Cave’s music”. The 14-section work succeeds in creating a dark, emotional world perfectly matched by Cave’s somber tones especially in ‘The Weeping Song’ and ‘The Ship Song’ sections. Petronio himself makes an appearance opening the piece by slowly crawling down an inclined ladder with a pen in his mouth, measuring time or distance by making marks on his arm. The “Descent” sets the stage for the hour-long world he has created.

Too many costume changes and a lackluster ending are the only downsides to this show. The choreography is smart, tight and interesting with solos, duets, trios and group work meshing so that your eyes and mind never get bored. The wildly off dancing in short tutus and garters in The Carny section deserve special mention. All the dancers were strong, yet distict, allowing their personalities and individual styles show through. Two that stood out were the petite Jaqlin Medlock, fierce technique and stunning attention to detail, and Joshua Green, powerhouse legwork set off with beautiful arms. The technique is what sets this group apart. Solid ballet training sets the base so they could do anything Petronio asks of them. With more experimental works, the technique sometimes gets lost. Not here. Gorgeous extensions (a la-besque?), a torqued jets, deconstructed fouette turns and a perky little parallel brise all make appearances. Slicing arms, a hip or head swirl, a bun askew all lend to the feel of a ballet gone beautifully wild.

Stephen Petronio Company presents Underland at the Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan Ave. Final performance Saturday, March  at 8 pm. Tickets are $ 30.

An Evening of Dance Films

Chris Olsen, Melissa Thodos and Ann Reinking.

Like dance on film? Emmy-nominated Chicago Filmmaker Chris Olsen of Kai Harding is showing five of his shorts and a sneak preview of his new film TOUCH next Wednesday, January 9th at the Film Row Cinema Theater at Columbia College. An Evening Of Dance Films presented by Thodos Dance Chicago and Columbia College Chicago serves as a fundraiser. All proceeds will go to the production of the new film.

TOUCH documents the creation of Melissa Thodos and Ann Reinking’s newest collaboration, A Light in the Dark, inspired by the life of Helen Keller. Much like his Emmy-nominated film, Beneath the White City Lights, which followed the making of The White City, TOUCH goes into the studio capturing the choreographers and dancers in the middle of the artistic process.

The evening opens with a wine/champagne reception at 5:30 pm., followed by the showing of the six films at 6:30 pm. A discussion with Olsen, Thodos and a panel of dancers will commence after the films.

Tickets for An Evening of Dance Films are $25 (students $10). Call Thodos Dance Chicago at 312.266.6255 or visit Tickets are also available at the door.

Wenesday, January 9 at Film Row Cinema Theater at Columbia College, 1104 S. Wabash, 8th floor.