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 knowledge and traditions with present and future generations.
The initial and foundational phase of CDHP involves exploring Chicago dance histories through three primary modes of research: in-depth, on-camera interviews with area dancers, choreographers, educators, advocates, and others associated with the form; recorded panel discussions and other public events that facilitate collaborative explorations of specific historical topics; and establishing partnerships with area institutions and individuals housing dance archives in order to connect disparate threads of knowledge maintained throughout the city.
These recorded interviews and events, along with various supplemental materials, will serve as a public platform for establishing a body of original and collected research that examines how Chicago has shaped dance — and how, in turn, dance has shaped Chicago — throughout the 20th century and into the present.
The Chicago Dance History Project consists of Executive Director Jenai Cutcher West and board members Ginger Farley, Elizabeth A. Liebman, Susan Manning, and Zachary Whittenburg.