Chicago Sun-Times profiles the Dance Center

The Chicago Sun-Times highlighted our upcoming season, new director, and "distinctive role" both in Chicago and nationally. Give it a read and then come experience this "vibrant home" for dance for yourself!


06/13/2018, 02:24pm

Contemporary dance has a vibrant home at Dance Center of Columbia College

Kyle MacMillan - For the Sun-Times

With high-profile local companies like the Joffrey Ballet and a regular array of big touring troupes at the Auditorium Theatre and Harris Theater dominating the Chicago dance scene, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago getting lost in the shuffle.

But the opposite is true. The small yet spunky presenter will mark its 45th anniversary in 2018-19, an impressive achievement in a rough-and-tumble field that often faces some of the toughest funding challenges of any facet of the arts.

The Dance Center fills a distinctive role, offering the only series in Chicago and one of only a handful nationwide that is dedicated solely to contemporary dance. Its peers include the Joyce Theater in New York, Dance Place in Washington, D.C., and Velocity Dance Center in Seattle.

In addition to a plethora of up-and-comers, the series has presented such prominent groups as the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Stephen Petronio Company, Cloud Gate Dance Theater of Taiwan and Trisha Brown Dance Company.

It is one of the most important presenters of contemporary dance in the United States,” said Heather Hartley, executive director of See Chicago Dance. “What it brings to Chicago audiences is exposure to national and international artists that might not otherwise be seen here.”

The Dance Center’s 268-seat theater is nearly twice as large as the biggest space in Links Hall but far smaller than the 3,901-seat Auditorium Theatre. “I feel like we occupy this really wonderful niche in between the big venues and the shoeboxes,” said Ellen Chenoweth, who will take over July 1 as permanent director of its Dance Presenting Series after serving as interim director since September.

In many ways, the Dance Center has thrived by turning what could be seen as negatives into positives. It is tucked, for example, into an art-deco building at 1306 S. Michigan in the South Loop, a location that might seem isolated but one that allows attendees to avoid the traffic congestion and parking challenges elsewhere.

While the small size of its theater has certain built-in physical limitations, it also means that attendees can enjoy the performances up close with no seat more than 35 feet from the stage. “It allows the audience to really see the muscle, the expression and all the nuance that’s not always possible to see in the larger houses,” said Hartley, who served as the Dance Center’s marketing director in 1998-2004.

Continue reading the full article here.