Conversations with the Artists…

Check back here
for exclusive behind the scenes updates
about the companies and artists on the DFL 2018 Program

Q&A with Artistic Director, Glenn Edgerton
Why did you choose this piece for Dance for Life?
I chose The 40s because it is the perfect closing to our 40th Anniversary Season. I wanted to highlight Lou and his contributions to the company, the city and the dance world. I also think this is an uplifting and lighthearted piece that the Dance for Life audience will really enjoy!

Why do you think Dance for Life, now in its 27th year, has been so successful? What is special about the Chicago dance community?
Dance for Life started out as a necessity for an AIDS benefit to support the dance community, and it has since evolved to taking care of dancers in a more general way. Dance for Life is a time for all of us to come together and celebrate each other in our unique strengths and different artistic identities and still take care of one another. It is a great way to check in every year with our colleagues in the city, and, consequently, the energy of support and camaraderie is infectious. That is what makes it so successful!

What do you enjoy about living in Chicago beyond being part of the dance community?
Being the artistic director of Hubbard Street is a dream job! I’m fortunate that it also happens to be in a city that is very interesting and culturally diverse on top of having a strong and supportive dance community. I am also privileged to carry on Lou’s legacy. Forty years ago he created a major cultural institution in Chicago and I am lucky to be the steward of that.


Q&A with Artistic Director, Nan Giordano
Why did you choose Tossed Around for this year’s Dance for Life?
Last season, Giordano Dance Chicago’s 55th, was about legacy, celebrating where we’ve come from and our history. As we begin our 56th season, we’re focusing on momentum. So I wanted to do something new and fresh that had a little different feel from some of the work we’ve performed at previous Dance for Life events. I wanted us to do something more current.

Why do you think Dance for Life, now in its 27th year, has been so successful?
We are honored to have been part of all 27 Dance for Life events in Chicago, plus four in Palm Springs. Dance for Life has really unified the dance community—not just the organization leaders, but also the dancers. There’s a real camaraderie among us; we don’t have a territorial mindset. In fact, I prefer our dancers take the opportunity to work with other companies if the timing is right. It’s always positive.

How does it feel to be one of this year’s honorees?
To be honored at Dance for Life, Chicago’s premier dance event, which has continually unified our dance community, is humbling. Sharing this alongside Lou Conte is truly full circle.

What do you enjoy about living in Chicago?
I love the cultural diversity and the energy that matches our organization. Our city has many flavors and cultures; you can feel like you’re in a different country depending on where you are. And the warmth—people are so friendly here.


Q&A with Choreographer Randy Duncan
Why did you choose ADROIT for this year’s Dance for Life?
The reason I chose the revival of ADROIT this year is simply because it happens to be one of my personal favorites of all the finales I have done in the past. It is swift, challenging (so far as stamina) and exciting to watch as an audience member. I have been asked many times about bringing it back to the DFL stage. So I thought this would be the opportune time to do it since we are opening the show. 

What is special about the Chicago dance community?
I find it to be very warm and supportive, like one big happy family.

What do you enjoy about living in Chicago beyond being part of the dance community?
Though my travels both national and international have brought me to beautiful and exciting places, I’ve never had a desire to live anywhere other than Chicago. I love the vibrant culture of the city and the incredible talent that exists within. And so I remain as one of its native artists, working as a professional dancer, teacher and choreographer since the age of 15.


Dance for Life Sneak Peek: Q&A with Chicago Dance Crash Artistic Director, Jessica Deahr 
What excites you about bringing the work of Chicago Dance Crash to Dance for Life? Do you have something special in mind?
We are doing a structured freestyle this year, which is naturally exciting and just a touch terrifying in the best way possible. Dance for Life holds a high standard of presenting polished choreographed pieces, so I’m thankful they had enough faith to let us step outside the box. At the same time, it feels really suited for Dance for Life. Freestyling at its core demands that the dancer live in and celebrate the present. The Crash dancers are unique so my goal is to give them a chance to create something fresh and real that will speak to the audience in a different way.

Why do you think Dance for Life, now in its 27th year, has been so successful? What is special about the Chicago dance community?
I think the success can be largely attributed to the fact that the dancers on stage and the people behind the scenes that bring the production to life all genuinely love this performance and everything it stands for. Audience members can feel that kind of vibe; it is something you cannot artificially produce. In the world we live in today, it is necessary to have a strong event like this that celebrates life, raises money for a good cause and provides a rare opportunity for Chicago companies to showcase their hard work with each other.

What do you enjoy about living in Chicago beyond being part of the dance community?
The best part of living here is Chicago summer time! The beach, festivals, random outdoor activities, rooftops and the lifted energy of the people.


Dance for Life Sneak Peek: Q&A with Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre’s Co-Founder and Artistic Director Wilfredo Rivera
What can you tell us about Between Us?
This work features the work of choreographer Sherry Zunker, a longstanding female innovator and pillar of the Chicago dance scene and a CRDT mentor through our work with River North Dance Chicago. Due to the jazz music and improvisational choreographic aspects of our work, one of our strengths is to morph pieces accordingly, to engage a particular audience or event. Thus, we are specifically re-constructing segments of Between Usto contribute to the festive spirit and intention of Dance for Life 2018. This suite, at its core, is a thematic celebration of diverse music and dance forms. This version builds on this theme—it is playful, with its onstage interactive relationships between dancers and musicians. Ultimately it promises to also be an engaging and uplifting experience for audience members, who jumped to their feet as the final note lingered in the air during our 2017 concert series.

Why do you think Dance for Life, now in its 27th year, has been so successful?
The original intentions of DFL really touched a chord in the community: the urgent need resonated with everyone, so organizations that might have been perceived as “competing” could put differences aside to unite one night a year to raise AIDS awareness and funds for dance artists. Dance artists work in this field not for its financial rewards; therefore, the funds raised each year fill a gap in assisting with medical care.

As the years have progressed, the one-night-only event has matured to represent the richness of our community. DFL gives a nod to the best that Chicago offers in concert dance, presenting well-established organizations (with its partner groups) and yearly rotation of curated companies, which I’m glad to see, as the event keeps diversifying in its scope of genre offerings.

For the artists, DFL is definitely a highlight of a dance career, a milestone, an achievement to be extremely proud of—to be counted as an active participant in a very special group. You are counted as an accomplished artist, performing with top-notch talent all around you! The camaraderie on and off stage is uplifting. Being around the very best in the field creates an environment in which we all inspire each other to sublime heights of artistic quality—every pore and molecule counts and is accounted for!

This exhilarating air fills the theater and audiences get to feel and experience an energy that is quite special and unique to this event.

What do you enjoy about living in Chicago? What is special about being part of the Chicago dance community?
Chicago has been my artistic and personal home since 1989, literally since graduating high school. I have established a professional career, raised a family and benefited from this “broad shoulder” supportive community, and I continue to thrive in being able to give back through my professional dance and music fusion and arts education work with CRDT. I also take my role and responsibility of having the honor to serve as the only Latino artistic director of a dance and music organization in Chicago very seriously. Additionally, I’m extremely proud of my company celebrating our 19th season by participating in Dance for Life 2018.


Q&A with Choreographer Hanna Brictson
What can you tell us about My Darling?
My Darling began because I have a slight obsession with moving quick and detailed. I wanted to play on that theme and see where it would it go. I also feel personally, at the time I created it, I was searching for a lightness in my work. I wanted that old happy feeling when you hear a song from your past or recognize a quirky social dance move you used to do. I wanted it to be nostalgic for me as a creator and for those who watch it.

Why do you think Dance for Life, now in its 27th year, has been so successful?
I think Dance for Life is successful because of the people. The artists that make up the Chicago dance community are some of the most giving and kindhearted individuals. That combined with striking talent creates this explosion of love and art on stage and behind the scenes. Everyone involved in what happens at Dance for Life before the show, during the show and on the stage cares so deeply about why it all started. We continue to be even more bonded after every passing year. When you get that many passionate souls together, there’s no doubt it will continue and keep reaching new heights!

What do you enjoy about living in Chicago?
I love Chicago because it’s such a homey town in a big city. My dream was always to dance, but I also wanted to have that city life where I could walk in my neighborhood and know everyone. Kind of like a Mr. Rogers feel! It makes doing what I love a little sweeter when I live in that kind of environment. Great people are everywhere, and I’m a foodie, so between fabulous food, company and so much dance, it couldn’t be sweeter.


Dance for Life Sneak Peek: Q&A with Nomi Dance Company Artistic Director Laura Kariotis
What can you tell us about Kim?
Choreographer Joshua Blake Carter has stated that Kim(named after his mother) has a special, deep meaning for him. We were honored to perform this poignant work for our 10th anniversary season finale performance. In his words, Kim“is a celebration of my mother’s journey in life thus far.” I believe the piece also reflects Joshua’s relationship with his mother and his great appreciation for not only his mother but a woman’s strong influence, impact and power in society.

Why did you choose this piece for Dance for Life?
Nomi Rehearsal Director Stephanie Cihlar and I chose Kimfor two important reasons. Nomi is a company of strong, independent, forward-thinking and eclectic artists. Each of the women in Nomi felt very connected to and were incredibly honored to perform this work. Joshua has become an important part of our Nomi family. His presence in the room just makes us better! And his artistry and positivity is infectious. Kimis the second work he has set on the company, and it far exceeded my expectations to bring a work of this magnitude to celebrate both women and Nomi’s milestone anniversary. We are so grateful for the incredible relationship we have built with Joshua, and we knew this would be a wonderful addition to Dance For Life this year, in addition to his ongoing work with Giordano Dance Chicago. Second, we truly believe this work is a great representation of the strong statement women are making in the world today. And it’s important to continue to celebrate women and push for a culture of equality and respect!

Why do you think Dance for Life, now in its 27th year, has been so successful?
It is one of the most important events for the arts, a celebration of life and the support of the artists that express life in one of the most prolific ways. Dance for Life signifies humanity at its best, and I truly believe this great city of Chicago not only recognizes it, but understands that we are all in this together and we only have one life to live—everyone wants to live it to the fullest.

What is special about the Chicago dance community?
We have a dance community of acceptance and support. Like many industries, there is a competitiveness, but I truly believe it is a healthy competitiveness. We all want to be better. We strive to be the best at what we do and to transport our audiences so they can escape their daily lives for just a moment. Chicago artists are great at that, and that is one of the reasons I needed to be a part of it. I’m both honored and thrilled that Nomi can add even a small contribution to this amazing community!

What do you enjoy about living in Chicago beyond being part of the dance community?
I am originally from the Milwaukee area. I received my dance degree from UW-Milwaukee studying with a staff that hailed from many different places including New York City, Texas and California. But I always knew Chicago was going to be my artistic destination. I loved the big-city feel with the small-town acceptance. This is truly a city that celebrates every form of dance. I needed that positive atmosphere and the inspiration of the artistry I continue to witness. The relationships that develop through networking and collaborations are invaluable and keep the arts alive and thriving here. But, above all, I just love the feel of this city—the restaurants, the lakefront, the parks, the accessibility, the love of our hometown sports teams. I love it all! And I have always been proud to say “I am a Chicagoan” for the past 20 years. How many cities can say we get both 90-degree and 50-degree weather in one day? There’s always a surprise and it’s never boring here in Chicago. And, oh yes, summer in the city can’t be beat. So much to do and see—always!


Conversation with Ashley Wheater – Artistic Director, The Joffrey Ballet

What can you tell us about Body of Your Dreams? Why did you choose this piece for Dance for Life?
Body of Your Dreams is a brilliantly conceived idea inspired by Jacob Ter Veldhuis’ music of taking infomercials and sequencing in rhythms about our ever-obsessive conversation about our bodies. I chose it for Dance For Life because Myles Thatcher is an extremely talented,  multi-layered artist who found the athleticism, humor and poignancy in the message—and because it’s very engaging for the audience.
Why do you think Dance for Life, now in its 27th year, has been so successful? What is special about the Chicago dance community?
Chicago dance is a continuation of the Chicago community and commitment to working together for the greater good. Dance For Life epitomizes the collaborative spirit that is so important to our humanity.

What do you enjoy about living in Chicago beyond being part of the dance community?
I love everything about living in Chicago: the people, the art, the beauty, the creativity in our city. On any night of the week, you can experience something original and creative, but what truly makes it great are the people that live in it. I’ve enjoyed meeting so many people in my time here. They enrich my life.