Bite Sized: A Benefit

Dancers Jaqueline Stewart and Josh Manculich. Photo by Eddie Eng.

Pursuit Productions, the “brainchild” of dancer Ahmad Simmons (River North Dance Chicago) and director Kacie Smith is throwing a bite-sized benefit to raise funds for their upcoming project, an adaptation of Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca’s Blood Wedding.

The benefit has tasty treats, a silent auction a showing of excerpts from Blood Wedding as well as a number of local artists performing including The Nexus Project, Jacqueline Stewart and Josh Manculich, B-Discovered Dance Company and many others.

Pursuit Productions presents Bite Sized: A Benefit on Sunday, June 2 at 6 pm at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn. Tickets are $20. Buy tickets here.

Dancer Fundraising to get from NZ to CA

Dancer Joel Walsham dances on Karekare Beach in his native New Zealand. Photo by Kristen Walsham.

New Zealand dancer Joel Walsham is heading to San Francisco…with your help. He is one of 18 dancers accepted to the LINES Ballet/Dominican University Bachelor of Fine Arts program beginning this fall. Walsham, 18, is the only international student to be accepted to the program this year and is the first New Zealander.

To help him finance his trip and stay in CA, he’s started an Indiegogo campaign (video below). His tag line says it all: Think big. Dance bigger.

Check out his site –


Creative Partners: The Unexpected

What happens when you put dance, theater/puppetry and live music on the MCA Stage on the same night? The Unexpected. Thursday, April 25, Lucky Plush Productions, Blair Thomas & Co. and eighth blackbird, aka the arts collective Creative Partners, invite you to witness this innovative, interdisciplinary partnership for the first time. Each group will perform an excerpt of current repertory work with video interludes interspersed telling the tale of how they came together.

Three years in the making, Creative Partners began as Julia Rhoads (artistic director of Lucky Plush) was working with a consultant and learned of a three-theater share. “I was experiencing a little burn out from wearing every hat, which I do and have done for a long time,” she said. “I knew I couldn’t hire higher-level staff without paying a lot of money. I thought there could be a higher-level share.” She sought funding through a few avenues that ultimately didn’t work out, but was certain she was on to something that would work. Working on a grant from Arts Work Fund, Rhoads and a consultant did a year of research on resource-sharing models. When it came to selecting the companies to work with, she felt strongly that they needed to be interdisciplinary. “I felt that the inherent nature of insularity of the fields wouldn’t allow for some of the ancillary benefits, which I was hoping to see, like audience development,” she said. “You’re going to get true growth by putting Lucky Plush in front of a music audience that doesn’t know they like dance.”

Enter eighth blackbird, a Grammy-winning sextet that tours nationally but is looking to build its Chicago presence, and Blair Thomas and Co., a Chicago-based puppetry/theater company Rhoads admires. “Even though we’re all at different places organizationally, there’s a shared value system in the art itself,” Rhoads said. “We’re all interested in creating work that is intellectually engaging, but also broadly accessible.” They quickly realized the help they needed was in development. Working with the Northwestern Entrepreneurship Law Center for a year (pro-bono), they developed the contract and terms of the working relationship, tackling tough questions as they came up like how to structure the partnership financially. “We determined we didn’t want it to be a 501(c)3 because that would require another board of directors,” said Rhoads. “As we grow, if we grow, we may move toward that with more clarity, but for now, we determined we would be a dba of eighth blackbird, because they had systems in place for staff and for health benefits. The money is going through a dba, Creative Partners. We’re trying to divvy it up, so it’s an equal share. To start, it’s a quarter-time share. A quarter-time, the development team will be spent on each individual organization and the remaining quarter will be on the collective. There’s a real possibility there will be individuals and funders that will be excited about the collective narrative, so the financial model is that anything that comes in to Creative Partners is split three ways between the companies. Anything that comes in to an individual company goes to that company. It may very well be that there’s more money out there for music than dance or theater than music. It won’t be an equal share when you look at all the numbers, but whatever Creative Partners gets is very much equal.”

Add in a three-year grant from the MacArthur Foundation and Creative Partners is off to a great, slightly delayed start celebrated by the launch on Thursday. “It’s been super exciting,” said Rhoads. “We’ve already hired our Development Director and an Associate is coming on later this month. We wanted to fully vet it before we did it. It was way more important to cross the T’s and dot the I’s and do the work with the Northwestern Law Center to really make sure all of our boards were completely committed and engaged and behind it. It’s not a small thing. I know it’s the flavor of the day to share, but the fact is, we’re all unique and we’re all trying to figure it out in really thoughtful, intelligent, sustainable ways. It’s been three years in the making. I’m still in shock that it’s happening.”

Creative Partners: The Unexpected at the MCA Stage, 220 E. Chicago Ave., Thursday, April 25 at 7 pm. Tickets are $40. Buy here. 



B.T. Dubs

I’m introducing a new series of updates on happenings on the Chicago dance scene and various Rogueness. By the way…Btw…B.T. Dubs…get it? Anywho, from time to time I will list things that I’ve been doing, seeing and hearing that I think are interesting or relevant.

Next Thursday, Feb. 14th Valentine’s Day, The Women’s Board of the Joffrey Ballet hosts What Is This Thing Called Love, an evening with singer Shelley McArthur with a pre-performance hors d’oeuvre reception and champagne and desserts after the show. The event begins at 6 pm and will be held at The Murphy, 50 E. Erie. Tickets can be purchased at or by calling 312.386.8921.

I popped in on Thodos Dance Chicago rehearsals last week to watch them work on the new story ballet about Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan, A Light in the Dark. The day I was there, film maker Chris Olsen of Kai Harding Productions was filming interviews with artistic director Melissa Thodos and Ann Reinking, as well as rehearsal. Things were a bit crazy, since they were finishing up setting the new work and getting ready for their gala the next night (I went. It was fun!), but I got to hear a little about the impetus and process of making the new ballet and really, who wouldn’t like just hanging out with Ann Reinking?

Oh, and I’ve started selling ads on the blog. *Look right! A special shout out and big thank you to my first advertisers Chicago Dance Supply. If you’re interested in advertising rates, please email me for more information:



Feb 2013: Upcoming Events

Pointe of Departure – The Joffrey Auxiliary Board presents this 3rd annual event with silent auction, art exhibition and sale of works inspired by Joffrey’s Winter Program American Legends. Meet the artists at a cocktail and hors d’oeuvre reception. Thursday, Feb. 7 from 6-9 pm at Block 37, 108 N State St., 3rd floor. Tickets are $75.

What is This Thing Called Love – Enjoy an evening of music with singer Shelley McArthur and special guests Alfreda Burke and Rodrick Dixon along with The City Lights Orchestra on Valentine’s Day to benefit The Joffrey Ballet. A cocktail and hors d’oeuvre reception starts at 6 pm, followed by the concert with an after party featuring champagne and chocolates. Thursday, Feb. 14 at the Murphy Auditorium, 50 E. Erie St. Tickets are $350-$500. Call 312.386.8921 or email:

One Billion Rising Chicago – On Valentine’s Day, why not go to a block party with dance performances, djs and live singers? This hour-long event benefits One Billion Rising Chicago, a non-profit dedicated to ending violence against women. Thursday, Feb. 14 from 2-3 pm at Grace House, 1801 W. Adams St. This event is free, but you can donate at

Wholehearted Wellness Jam 2013 – The Dance COLEctive and The Big Hearts Fund team up again for an event promoting family and animal wellness featuring 30-minute sessions of ZUMBA, yoga, pilates and more. Healthy refreshments will be provided. The first 50 participants registered receive a gift bag. Saturday, Feb. 16 from 12 – 2:30 pm at Menomonee Club, 1535 N. Dayton. Tickets are $35 in advance, $45 at the door. Register at



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.