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

Marcea T. Daiter: World Traveler

Marcea T. Daiter is certainly a well-traveled dancer. Marcea’s long career intersects with many key figures and organizations of Chicago’s dance scene. In the early years, while she was based in Chicago, she danced with the Darlene Blackburn Dance Troupe and performed with the Free Street Theater. Working with Darlene was a profound learning experience for Marcea. One show in particular stands out in her memories. … Continue reading Marcea T. Daiter: World Traveler

Susan Lee on Crafting Compassionate Curricula

Susan Lee began her teaching career working with high school students, which led her to pursuing a PhD in developmental psychology as she sought to better understand her students’ struggles. Susan’s interest in combining dance and psychology drew the attention of Northwestern University and an offer to design its dance program. Her experience in both fields helped her relate dance to the conventions of academia … Continue reading Susan Lee on Crafting Compassionate Curricula

Patti Vickerman, In Her Father’s Footsteps

For Patti Vickerman, performance is a family business.  Her mother performed in New York City as a singer before Patti and her sister were born. Her father, Jim Byrnes, taught Patti to dance and the two of them performed as a duo for fifteen years. Their act, in vaudeville tradition, incorporated tap dance and comedic bits which featured Patti’s signature “deadpan” punch lines. Jimmy Byrnes … Continue reading Patti Vickerman, In Her Father’s Footsteps

Reggio “The Hoofer” McLaughlin

On August 1, the CDHP interview team met with Reggio “The Hoofer” McLaughlin at Old Town School of Folk Music, where he has taught tap since the 1990s. A proud Chicago native, he was introduced to tap dance at Jackson Park, where his sister was taking lessons. “It was love at first sight.” As a teenager, he paid for his own lessons with Jimmy Payne … Continue reading Reggio “The Hoofer” McLaughlin