The newly formed Dance Program in Theater and Performance Studies at the University of Chicago is centered around the belief that dance and embodied research are critical to the performing arts, to broad cultural literacy, and to the advancement of cross-disciplinary scholarship.

In seeking to advance dance as both a physical practice and critical form of research, the Dance Program offers a range of studio and studio-seminar courses as well as co-curricular technique classes. The offerings reach students of all abilities, from beginners to those seeking pre-professional opportunities within a liberal arts education.  

The Dance Program faculty is comprised of professional dance artists and scholars, and is led by Julia Rhoads, Director of Dance and Artistic Director of Lucky Plush Productions, a MacArthur Award-winning dance-theater company based in Chicago.

Curricular offerings can be found in the TAPS course listings. Co-curricular offerings are listed below. To get the most up-to-date information about TAPS dance offerings, join the dance listserv or email Julia Rhoads, Director of Dance, at jrhoads1@uchicago.edu. For more information about student-led dance groups and events, go to the Dance Council page.

 


Winter Quarter Dance Technique Classes 

The following weekly dance teechnique classes are non-credit bearing and free to University of Chicago students. Space is limited, so there will be a strict attendance policy. All classes start 1st week. 

If you have questions about whether class is a fit for your level of experience, contact Julia Rhoads, Director of Dance, at jrhoads1@uchicago.edu.

If you can't sign up for these weekly technique classes, don't fret. The Dance program will also host six dance workshops throughout winter quarter that will span diverse dance forms and technical levels.

Hip-Hop: Breakdancing 

Instructor: Daniel “BRAVEMONK” Haywood
Tuesdays, 5:30-7:00p
Bartlet Rehearsal Room (BARS)
Capacity: Space Limited | Sign-up Form 
Class Description: Open to all levels and experiences, Bravemonk will focus on the foundational vocabulary of breakdancing, while guiding students to develop proficiency in core techniques that are seen across a wide variety of hip-hop dance styles. Students will have the opportunity to test their skills through the circle/cypher/battle. A curated playlist of music will bump!

Ballet Technique

Instructor: Natalie Nespoli Moreira
Wednesdays 5:30-7:00p
Ida Noyes
Capacity: Space Limited | Sign-up Form 
Class Description: Natalie draws upon Russian-based techniques and maintains a classical progression from barre to center work, allowing students to build the strength and stamina required to execute a range of movements across the floor. She also brings contemporary influences to her combinations, with a focus on weight shifting, spirals, moving through space, and personal expression. Geared towards intermediate level students. 

Modern Technique 

Instructor: Kara Brody
Thursdays, 5:30-7:00p
Bartlet Rehearsal Room (BARS)
Capacity: Space Limited Sign-up Form 
Class Description: Kara teaches a contemporary movement class rooted in modern dance technique. Her class begins with a series of floorwork sequences to research how the body leverages weight in relationship to gravity. She builds into standing combinations and complex phrase work that balances control with freedom. Efficiency in movement is a common theme throughout class. Geared towards intermediate level students. 

 

Daniel "Bravemonk" Haywood is a choreographer, performer, and dance educator based in Chicago. He regularly travels throughout the US and internationally as a guest speaker, host, judge, and teacher at many hip hop events, and has worked closely with the University of Hip Hop, Temple of Hip Hop, Urban Arts in Action Movement, Hip Hop Congress, and Universal Zulu Nation. Over the past fifteen years, Daniel has dedicated much of his time to researching the origins and mastering the foundations of hip hop’s cultural dance form known as B-boying or breaking, in addition to drawing from house, freestyle, martial arts, and various other hip hop lineages. Daniel is currently a member of Chicago’s legendary breaking crew, Phaze II—Crosstown Crew. He is also a founding member and active leader of Awesome Style Konnection and a member of F.E.W. Collective.

Natalie Nespoli Moreira is a native of East Lansing, Michigan, where she trained from a young age in Vaganova ballet and Polish Folkloric dancing. At 14 years old, she was given a scholarship to train full-time at Bossov Ballet Theatre, where she had the opportunity to perform in St. Petersburg, Russia for Dance Open. She continued her training at Gelsey Kirkland Academy in New York City. Natalie began her professional career at Columbia Classical Ballet in South Carolina, followed by numerous freelance projects and performances in New York City and abroad. With a growing interest in contemporary dance practices, Natalie moved to Florida to dance for Sarasota Contemporary Dance (SCD), where she danced for 3 seasons. While at SCD, Natalie was exposed to a wide range of choreographers and was invited to choreograph her own work for the company. She also developed her teaching practice at several local studios. Natalie recently moved to Chicago where she brings her curiosity and knowledge of ballet and contemporary dance forms to new teaching and dancing opportunities.

Kara Brody is a collaborating ensemble member with Lucky Plush Productions where she originated a role in Rink Life and Rooming House, joined the touring cast of SuperStrip and Cinderbox 2.0. Kara is a native of Detroit, Michigan and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Wayne State University with a BFA in Dance. As an undergraduate student, she performed works by Doug Varone, Dwight Rhoden, Trey McIntyre, Steffanie Batten Bland, and Ron de Jesus. In 2014, she was nationally recognized for her performance in Rhoden’s Hissy Fits by ACDA/Dance Magazine. Kara recently performed in Brendan Fernandes’ Art by Snapchat at the Museum of Contemporary Art. She is currently in project with Khecari under the direction of Jonathan Meyer and Julia Antonick and is working with the Cambrians for their project, Chicago Dances.


Winter Quarter Dance Workshop Classes 

TAPS will hold six dance workshops this quarter. These workshops are free to University of Chicago students and are geared toward a range of technical abilities (level is specified within the description). Space is limited, so please sign-up using the attached forms.

Contact Improvisation

Instructor: Kristina Fluty
Sun Feb 2, 11:00a-1:00p
Bartlett Arts Rehearsal Space (BARS)
Capacity: 25 students | sign-up here
Class Description: Discover the fundamentals of Contact Improvisation in this 2-hour workshop open to actors/dancers/movers of all skill levels who are excited about mindfully working with partners in playful engagement. Participants will explore levels of sharing weight, identifying and following impulses, and fostering a mutual movement relationship with their partners. Safety and exhilarating risk co-exist in this consent-driven environment.

House Dance

Instructor: Elijah Motley 
Sun Feb 16, 11:00a-1:00p
Bartlett Arts Rehearsal Space (BARS)
Capacity: 25 students | sign-up here
Class Description: Learn the basic movement vocabulary of House Dance with a focus on how the physical style and music have evolved over time. The workshop also offers an opportunity to learn House choreography and develop a freestyle component to your practice. Open to students with basic experience in Hip-hop and/or contemporary dance styles.

West African Dance

Instructor: Keyierra Collins
Sun Feb 23, 11:00a-1:00p
Bartlett Rehearsal Room (BARS)
Capacity: 25 students | sign-up here
Class Description: Experience an energizing two hours of West African dance technique, history, and culture for dancers of all skill levels and ages. From warm-up to across the floor; let the live drumming take you away as you move your body, work your mind, and feed your soul!

Hubbard Street Pro Residency: Site-based Choreography

Instructor: Robyn Mineko Williams
Mon Feb 24, 7:00p-9:00p
Bartlett Rehearsal Room (BARS)
Capacity: 25 students | sign-up here
Class Description: Open to intermediate and advanced dancers, this workshop begins with a contemporary warm-up followed by intricate phrase work. Participants will be guided to adapt the movement material in response to the architecture and/or objects around the space. This quick-form process is distilled from Williams’ creation for the Hubbard Street Professional Training Program, to be presented at the Logan Center, March 6-8.

Hubbard Street Pro Residency: Contemporary Improvisation and Compositional Play

Instructor: Jenna Pollack 
Mon Mar 2, 7:00p-9:00p
Bartlett Rehearsal Room (BARS)
Capacity: 25 students | sign-up here
Class Description: Open to intermediate and advanced dancers, this workshop uses contemporary dance as an entry point to guided improvisation, physical listening, and play.  Warm-up sequences gradually increase in complexity and participants are guided to generate strength, heat, and curiosity through improvisation. These curiosities are then applied to specific compositional tasks - how might we construct material with an equal commitment to chaos and rigor?

Plena Dance Workshop

Instructors: Ivelisse Diaz & Plena Libre 
Thu Mar 5, 6:30-8:30p
Performance Penthouse, Logan Center
Capacity: 40 students | sign-up here
Class Description: Get ready to dance! We will be exploring dance through one of Puerto Rico's African influenced genres called "Plena." Join us for a fun dance class open to all levels with live music provided by Plena Libre directly from Puerto Rico. 

Keyierra Collins is a dancer, teaching artist, and choreographer based in Chicago, IL. Collins earned a BA in Dance from Columbia College Chicago where she studied West African, modern, jazz, ballet, hip hop, and improvisation. As a dance artist, Collins has collaborated with many choreographers including Onye Ozuzu, Paige Cunningham, Margi Cole, Emily Stein, Anna Martine Whitehead and Sonita Surratt. Her work explores how dance and movement can be used to heal trauma, particularly the collective and individual trauma experienced by people of the African diaspora. Having traveled and worked with artists in Haiti and Nigeria, Collins wants to continue to travel and collaborate with artists around the world.

Ivelisse Bombera de Corazon Diaz is an Afro Puerto Rican dancer, musician, vocalist, and educator. She is the founder of La Escuelita Bombera de Corazon 2009, a founding member of Chicago's very own Bomba con Buya, and the founder and co-director of the all-female ensemble, Las Bompleneras. She regularly teaches throughout the US, helping build communities and music groups focusing on Bomba. She was awarded the 3arts award for teaching artist. From the age of 5, Ivelisse has dedicated her life to preserving, teaching and learning the Puerto Rican culture through dance, percussion, song, and history. 

Kristina Fluty is a Chicago-based dancer, choreographer, consultant, and educator. She is an Assistant Professor at The Theatre School at DePaul University, where she teaches Contact Improvisation and Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis to actors in the performance conservatory. She is a current leader of the Chicago Contact Improvisation jam that meets at Links Hall on Sundays. She has created and performed with Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak since 2003, and presented her own works at Harvest Contemporary Dance Festival, Links Hall, Hamlin Park, and Stage 773. She holds her MA in Dance/Movement Therapy, a Graduate Certificate in Laban Movement Analysis, and a Movement Pattern Analysis Certificate, all from Columbia College Chicago, and her BA in Dance is from Point Park University.

Elijah (Eli) Motley started his performing and choreographic career at Old Dominion University while earning a degree in Dance/Theatre and  Civil/Environmental Engineering. For two years, he studied House Dance, Breakdancing, Popping, and Krump with Baila Fusion Dance Company in Virginia Beach. In 2016, he studied contemporary modern dance with Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company in Israel and Gaga under Ohad Naharin and Batsheva Ensemble in 2017. He is currently in his third season as a company member of Chicago Dance Crash and is a freelance performer and choreographer in the Chicago area. In addition to being a resident artist at Volta Performing Arts, Eli also teaches yoga and hip-hop at studios around the city.

Jenna Pollack is a Boston-based maker, performer, and educator. She has been commissioned by projects and universities throughout the U.S., Spain, and Germany. Her professional performance highlights include the 2019 film 'Little Women' directed by Greta Gerwig, Soloist Dancer for Scottish Dance Theater, The Metropolitan Opera, and for local choreographers Ali Kenner Brodsky, Heather Stewart, and Betsy Miller. She received a B.F.A. in Dance Performance from The Juilliard School, an M.A. with Distinction in Choreography from the Institute of the Arts Barcelona, and a Certificate with Honors from Harvard Business School Online’s CORe program. She teaches the Boston Ballet Trainees and at Salem State University, and has worked for the Springboard Danse Montréal festival since 2013. 

Robyn Mineko Williams danced for River North Dance Chicago and was a member of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago for twelve seasons. She has created works for Hubbard Street, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Malpaso Dance Company, and Charlotte Ballet, among others, and presentations of her work include the Kennedy Center, Joyce Theatre, Jacob’s Pillow, American Dance Festival and MCA Chicago. She is a four-time Princess Grace Foundation-USA grant recipient and press features include Dance Magazine's “25 to Watch” in 2014, Chicago Magazine’s “Best Choreographer” in 2016, and NewCity’s “Players: People Who Really Perform for Chicago” in 2016 and 2018. Projects in the works include Echo Mine, a full-length work inspired by dance icon and founding Hubbard Street member Claire Bataille, and the continuance of her site-sensitive performance series, Undercover Episodes. Visit robynminekowilliams.com for more.