About Chicago Dance History Project

The Chicago Dance History Project (CDHP) seeks to investigate, preserve, and present the oral and corporeal histories of theatrical dance in Chicago and its vicinity. It aims to honor the vast number of national and international dance artists with roots in the city; to surface lesser-known individuals, organizations, and venues that have anchored Chicago’s strong local dance community; and to link various collections of historical … Continue reading About Chicago Dance History Project

Joel Hall

The Legacy of Joel Hall: Past, Present, and Future

Joel Hall is a story teller, both in his choreography and in his recent conversation with Jacki Sinclair presented on Saturday, April 21 as part of Chicago Dance Month. “The Legacy of Joel Hall” brought together family, friends, fans, current and former dancers and students for an in-depth look at Hall’s choreographic career. From his first piece, My Love, performed by the company he founded in … Continue reading The Legacy of Joel Hall: Past, Present, and Future

Stephanie Clemens

Stephanie Clemens Keeps Dance History Present in Oak Park

On April 5th, the CDHP crew had the pleasure of conducting an interview with Stephanie Clemens, the Director of the Academy of Movement & Music in Oak Park and the Artistic Director of the Academy’s resident dance company, MOMENTA. Upon arrival, we were given a tour of the Academy, its halls adorned with many photographs carrying histories of their own.   Stephanie points out Doris … Continue reading Stephanie Clemens Keeps Dance History Present in Oak Park

Wynne Delacoma on “transactional” writing

Reporter Wynne Delacoma covered music and dance at the Chicago Sun-Times for nearly two decades. Critics, she maintains, play a vital and compassionate role in the life of a work. No matter how many times she may have seen a production of Swan Lake, “it was always someone’s first.” Wynne characterizes dance writing as “transactional” and sought to include readers in the conversation. Did she … Continue reading Wynne Delacoma on “transactional” writing

Barbara Atkins Ruhman: “With crisis comes opportunity.”

The CDHP interview team met with Barbara Atkins Ruhman in her home on July 18. Having found news clippings about her in the Midwest Dance Collection at the Newberry Library, we were eager to ask about her unique story of spectacular early success and tragic injury. Barbara studied ballet for 10 years winning competitive scholarships Edna McRae at the Fine Arts Building. She described her teacher as “extremely … Continue reading Barbara Atkins Ruhman: “With crisis comes opportunity.”

Ben Hodge: Making an Impact Behind the Scenes

Expanding a small dance company’s size and reach is a demanding and complex task, especially when the company has already built an outstanding reputation. CDHP’s Giordano Research Day on August 8 continued with Ben Hodge, Giordano Dance Chicago’s first official executive director. Ben explained his long history with the company, starting with a close friendship with his cousin, Peg Giordano, and culminating in his work … Continue reading Ben Hodge: Making an Impact Behind the Scenes

Mort Kessler Does It All

August 8 was “Giordano Research Day” for the CDHP crew, interviewing two gentlemen who were part of the company’s earliest years. The day began with original Giordano Dance Company member Mort Kessler. Mort came to Chicago in his late teens and met Peg Giordano while working as a hairdresser on Michigan Avenue. His friendship with Gus and Peg Giordano was instantaneous, as was his involvement … Continue reading Mort Kessler Does It All

Patti Eylar: Ballet in Chicago

Patti Eylar kickstarted our summer interview series with a tour of her extensive archives, meticulously catalogued in photo albums and binders and arranged chronologically around her dining room table. Patti entered Chicago’s dance scene in 1977 when she joined the Chicago City Ballet under the instruction of ballet legend Maria Tallchief. Nineteen at the time, Patti lived at the 3Arts Club with other female artists. … Continue reading Patti Eylar: Ballet in Chicago