Tuesday, May 10, 2016



Every year, Thodos Dance Chicago cultivates new dance creation through its nationally renowned New Dances series, Chicago's earliest and most extensive in-house choreography project, and always a highlight of the city's summer dance season.

Now in its 16th year, New Dances is an annual opportunity for Thodos's dancers to take off their dance shoes, step off the stage and call their own shots as choreographers. 

(top, from left) Thodos Dance Ensemble members John Cartwright, Tenley Dorrill, Abby Ellison, Alex Gordon, (bottom) Hattie Haggard, Jessica Miller Tomlinson, Brennen Renteria, Briana Robinson and guest choreographer Shannon Alvis are creating world premiere works for Thodos Dance Chicago's New Dances 2016, July 16 and 17 at the Athenaeum Theatre. 


New works that debuted at last summer's New Dances 2015 included (top, from left) 
Jessica Miller Tomlinson's Something To Do With Five, Tenley Dorrill's Waiting For What, (bottom, from left) Taylor Mitchell's All You Need Is and Kevin McGinnis's Miriam. 

Collectively, New Dances has spawned more than 140 world premieres, launched the choreographic careers of more than 75 Chicago-based dance artists, and created a platform for 300+ dance artists to showcase their skills and build their reputations. 

Past New Dances works have subsequently entered the Thodos Dance repertory, been showcased at festivals including Jacob's Pillow and Dance Chicago, and been remounted by the Joffrey Ballet and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.

As always, Thodos Dance Chicago's New Dances 2016 promises to be another wildly diverse program boasting nine, fresh, homegrown world premiere works created by the ensemble's own dancers. Performances are Saturday, July 16 at 
7:30 pm, and Sunday, July 17 at 3 p.m., at the Athenaeum Theatre, 
2936 N. Southport Ave., Chicago. Tickets are $14-$40. For tickets, visit or call the Athenaeum box office, (773) 935-6875.
New Dances 2016 will feature world premieres by TDC company members John Cartwright, Tenley Dorrill, Abby Ellison, Alex Gordon, Hattie Haggard, Jessica Miller Tomlinson, Brennen Renteria and Briana Robinson

Each is already making all production decisions about his or her work, from submitting written creative proposals, to developing budgets, casting their works from within and outside the company, collaborating with costume and lighting designers, contributing to marketing plans and scheduling their own rehearsal time.

"Members of Thodos Dance Chicago are far more than performers - they are creative artists selected to join the company based on their passion and talent for choreography," explains TDC Founder and Artistic Director Melissa Thodos

"We are unique in our strong commitment to support dance creation as no other dance organization offers as comprehensive of an in-house choreography initiative to its artists as ours, in part to help assure they are fully equipped to pursue a post-performance career in dance."

In total, each dancer/choreographer is given a three-month development period with more than 30 hours of studio time - unprecedented in the field - to bring their choreographic vision to life with their hand-picked ensemble of dancers.

Thanks to their New Dances experiences, past TDC dancer/choreographers have gone on to set works on the Joffrey Ballet, Hubbard Street, River North, Goodman Theatre, Paramount Theatre, Dutch National Ballet Project, Dance Kaleidoscope, Atlanta Ballet, Dance Works Chicago, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Idaho Dance Theatre, Grand Rapids Ballet, Giordano Dance Chicago, Eisenhower Dance Ensemble and the second companies of Alvin Ailey and American Ballet Theater.

Likewise, Thodos' artists are mentored throughout the process by a panel of high-profile Chicago dance professionals who gather for two private showings of each work to provide feedback, clarity, ideas and encouragement. New Dances 2016 panelists are:

Jeff Hancock, founding member of River North Dance Chicago and former Hubbard Street Dance Chicago dancer; 

Kristina Isabelle, artistic director of Kristina Isabelle Dance Company and director of HighJinks Productions;

Kristina Fluty, former dancer with Mad Shak, founder of Kinespark Consulting and a professor at Columbia College Chicago; 

Zachary Whittenburg, Manager of Communication at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and former dancer with Hubbard Street, BJM Danse Montréal and Pacific Northwest Ballet.
In addition to eight exciting and diverse brand new works created from within the ensemble, each year Melissa Thodos selects a guest choreographer to create a new work for the project. The New Dances 2016 guest choreographer is Shannon Alvis, former dancer with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Nederlands Dans Theater, currently on the faculty of Joffrey Academy.

Check out the behind the scenes sizzle reel for
TDC's Tenley Dorrill's New Dances 2015 new work Waiting for What.

About Thodos Dance Chicago
In 1992, Melissa Thodos, a young Evanston-born, Chicago-based dancer and choreographer, was frustrated with the lack of opportunities for dancers to work in what in her mind was the obvious environment for a well-rounded dance professional: A place to perform. A place to create. And a place to educate. Fast-forward 24 years, and Thodos is the only female choreographer and director to have helmed her own mid-sized, contemporary dance company in Chicago for more than two decades with this unique mission.

Today, Thodos Dance Chicago (TDC) is an ensemble of twelve versatile dance artists with a captivating style that uses a variety of dance forms. The company's unique mission of inspiring expression through dance education, dance creation and dance performance has established TDC as an innovative presence in American contemporary dance.

In addition to performing works by Melissa Thodos and resident artists, TDC performs works created by other renowned choreographers: Bob Fosse, Ann Reinking, Sybil Shearer, Lar Lubovitch, Shapiro & Smith, Jon Lehrer, Garfield Lemonius, Zachary Whittenburg, Lucas Crandall, Brian Enos, Amy Ernst, Ron De Jesús, Gustavo Ramírez Sansano, Ahmad Simmons, KT Nelson, Kevin Iega Jeff and Robyn Mineko Williams.

Thodos Dance Chicago's 12 ensemble members, who each teach, choreograph and perform for the company, include Caitrin Bellavance, John Cartwright, Tenley Dorrill, Abby Ellison, Alex Gordon, Hattie Haggard, Thomas Jacobson, Jessica Miller Tomlinson, Shelby Moran, Brennen Renteria, Briana Robinson and Luis Vasquez, plus performing trainee Richard Peña.

Thodos Dance Chicago continues to expand its artistic and institutional boundaries under the guidance of Founder and Artistic Director Melissa Thodos, Executive Director Gail Ford, Booking Director Rick Johnston, Artistic Associate Laura Gates, Resident Lighting Designer Nathan Tomlinson, Education and Outreach Associate
Kate Weatherly, Board President Sharon Lear, a dedicated board of directors and the support of thousands of contemporary dance enthusiasts both in Chicago and nationwide. 

The company is supported by the The Sono and Victor Elmaleh Foundation, The Garden of the Phoenix Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council-a state agency,
Target, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, The Arts Work Fund, The Morrison-Shearer Foundation, The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, The Service Club of Chicago, Project 120, the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events and many individual and corporate sponsors. 

For more information, visit

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