Devastation and hope in Tadashi Endo’s solo work

After a sold out show and workshop series last year, Tadashi Endo is happy to be back in Chicago. On Saturday, September 17, he opens the Dance Center’s 2016-2017 season with his critically acclaimed Fukushima Mon Amour.

Endo, former student of one of the originators of butoh, Kazuo Ohno, is currently director of the Butoh-Center MAMU and the Butoh-Festivals MAMU, based in Göttingen, Vienna. As he describes his own work, Endo “uses the suggestive power of concentrated movement phrases to explore the closure of life’s cycles.” In Fukushima Mon Amour, Endo explores a cycle that, for many Japanese, is ongoing: that of recovery from immense devastation.

Tsunami wave crashes onto a street in Miyako, Iwate prefecture. (Mainchi Shimbun/Reuters) View the gallery here.

Earthquake. Tsunami. Nuclear meltdown.
At 2:46 PM on Friday, March 11, 2001, a magnitude-9 earthquake shook northeastern Japan. Less than an hour after the Great Tōhoku Earthquake hit the coast of Honshu, Japan’s main island, a series of tsunami waves pummeled the coast. Thirty-foot walls of water tore through across the coast. Protective tsunami seawalls were destroyed. Streets and buildings flooded and collapsed. Entire towns were swept away. The earthquake and tsunami triggered warnings and alerts in 50 countries and territories around the world. The destructive power rippled across the Pacific, causing damage in America, Canada, and the Philippines, among other locations. Waves slammed into Antarctica, breaking off icebergs on this landmass more than 8,000 miles away from Japan. The infrasound rumble from the earthquake could be heard by satellite in space. The tsunami also instigated a nuclear incident at Fukushima Daiichi (“Number One”) plant in northern Japan. Flooding and water damage from the waves disabled plant controls, and Fukushima Daiichi experienced hydrogen explosions and eventual core meltdown. It was the largest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

The Tōhoku earthquake was the biggest in Japan’s recorded history, and the fourth biggest quake in the recorded history of the planet. As later reported by NASA, the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, and other scientific bodies, the earthquake pushed Honshu eight feet across the ocean, shifted the Earth on its axis, and shortened the 24-hour day by 1.8 microseconds.

More than 15,000 people lost their lives.

030816-japan-quake-tsunamiThe economic, political, and social costs of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown were enormous. Today, five years after the disaster, Japan continues to grapple with the aftermath, including thousands of aftershocks, ozone-destroying chemicals and gasses along with radioactive run-off, and nearly 60,000 displaced people still living as evacuees. Japan’s economy suffered, with the nation experiencing significant trade deficits. Hobbled by the nuclear incident and subsequent protests by citizens, the nuclear energy-reliant nation has been forced to increase its oil imports. Debris continues to wash up on shores around the world.

Yet despite the horror of the disaster and the subsequent struggles, Japan and her people remain resilient. As observed in a 2013 article from The Brookings Institute:

“The dignity, creativity, and orderly response of the Japanese population to this mega disaster is indeed the best measure of Japan’s potential. And just as a previous natural disaster, the Kobe earthquake of 1995, helped spur the NGO movement in Japan, March 11, 2011 has seen has seen the activation of scores of non-profit groups and the consolidation of a culture of volunteerism.”

Following any natural disaster, the process of reconstruction is inevitably complex, layered, difficult, and heartrending. Tadashi Endo’s butoh homage to the Japanese tragedy speaks to the strength of a nation.

This Saturday, in a one night only performance, Endo will honor the Fukushima disaster with a hauntingly intricate dance form. Through butoh, Endo dances the pain and tragedy experienced by Japan in the wake of the 2011 tsunami and resultant nuclear disaster—and the hope of reconstruction that carried the nation forward. As Endo reflects:

“Japan is a beautiful country. Japan is a fascinating country full of myths.
Japan is the only country that witnessed the atom bomb.
The catastrophe caused lots of terror and grief.
Grief created solidarity that turned people
into the extreme and sensitive Japanese that we know today.”

We hope you will join us for this one night only U.S. premiere, to honor the tragedies of the lives and the land that is Japan. Welcome back to Chicago, Tadashi Endo.


Tadashi Endo | Fukushima Mon Amour
Saturday, September 17, 2016 • 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $30/$24 for seniors. Purchase online, or call the box office at (312) 369-8330.

This production of Tadashi Endo’s Fukushima Mon Amour is co-produced by Sara Zalek and the Dance Center.

Creating more, with support from The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation

Creating more, with support from The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation

We are pleased to announce that in the 2016-2017 season, with the generous support of The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, we’ll be welcoming more Chicago-based companies to our stage. This expansion helps us fulfill one of our core objectives: to offer Chicago’s small and mid-sized dance companies a state-of-the-art venue in which to develop and perform their work.

As of this fall, we are expanding our Subsidized Theater Rental Program. The program, which began in the 2000-01 season, provides Chicago companies and artists with one week in the Dance Center theater to rehearse, technically prepare and perform. In addition to performance space and access to technical staff and equipment, we provide promotional support, box office and front-of-house services. The Subsidized Theater Rental Program offers a significantly reduced rental rate to talented and dedicated local companies that often do not have the budget to afford to present their work in a professional venue of the Dance Center’s scale and technical and staff resources.

With the support of The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, we are now able to expand this program from two to three companies. This season, we are excited to present three celebrated Chicago companies: Lucky Plush Productions (September 29–October 1), The Seldoms (October 13–15) and Chicago Human Rhythm Project (February 23–25).

The expanded Subsidized Theater Rental Program is just one aspect of the Dance Center’s refreshed efforts to provide a platform for local companies. In the coming season, we will pilot a Production Residency program.

Performing arts organizations around the nation are grappling with many obstacles: money, time, space, and expertise are ever-present hurdles in bringing artistic visions to life. Many beloved Chicago companies and artists face the chronic challenge of limited access to modern, well-equipped facilities that provide substantive time for production planning, lighting and sound design, technical preparation and collaborative staging prior to opening night.

The additional support from The Driehaus Foundation gives the Dance Center the opportunity to help address these challenges. During the pilot program this season, we will work with The Seldoms in the development of company member Philip Elson’s new work, The Fifth. This ambitious multimedia work investigates the origins and captors of a reimagined cyberspace, now deemed the fifth domain of war, where people become weaponized, masked and used as virtual political objects.

Philip Elson

“The commission of Philip Elson’s new work marks a first for The Seldoms, wherein we are investing significantly in an emerging choreographic voice from within the ensemble,” said Artistic Director Carrie Hanson. “We are making this commitment to express our confidence and interest in his art-making and honor his stellar contributions to my work during the past eight years. I am very excited for Philip to have the Dance Center’s extensive support for the production/design residency and the premiere presentation. This advance period in the theater with production equipment, technical staff and designers, as well as the time to experiment, problem-solve, imagine and test the integration of design elements, is too rare in our field, but advances the artwork immeasurably.”

The Seldoms production residency, which takes place August 1–5, will involve time in the theater for lighting, sound and video projection designers and other technical collaborators to access the Dance Center’s crew, space and equipment as they develop the staging for the work. The residency period also will include dancer rehearsals and a work-in-progress, constructive critique showing for a specially curated audience.

Elson in The Fifth. View his choreography reels here. Photo: Kristi Kahns

“It’s not very often that a young, emerging artist finds a place that feels like home for their artistic practice,” said Elson. “Eight years ago I serendipitously found myself studying at the Dance Center while beginning to work with The Seldoms. These two institutions have consistently supported, challenged and advanced my artistic potential as my career begins to flourish on and off the stage. I’m incredibly honored to experience a first with these two organizations, a first-time evening-length commission by The Seldoms and a first-time local artist Production Residency at the Dance Center. We are forging new territory, further demonstrating our community’s ability to strengthen artists and their creative processes at all levels in their careers. I’m grateful that this milestone and pivotal experience is happening with the people and places that I can call my artistic home and close family.”

We are celebrating here at the Dance Center, and eager to begin the season. With the ongoing support of The Driehaus Foundation, we are able to make a significant impact and contribution to Chicago’s rich cultural field.

“The Driehaus Foundation’s commitment to cultural enrichment and the vitality of Chicago’s small and mid-sized dance companies aligns with the Dance Center’s dedication to the creation and presentation of contemporary dance works, dance education and community cultural development through the arts,” said Bonnie Brooks, director and lead curator of the Dance Presenting Series. “We are delighted to partner with them in expanding our Subsidized Theater Rental Program, and we are especially excited to apply special funding to test the waters for a new production residency program for Chicago-based dance artists.”

Watch these great programs unfold all season long. Bookmark our blog and check back for updates. To learn more about the 2016-2017 Season, visit the performance page.

Three Continents, Four Chicago Debuts in 2016-2017 Presenting Series

Three Continents, Four Chicago Debuts in 2016-2017 Presenting Series

Welcome to the 2016–17 Presenting Series. Our 43rd season is an action-packed year featuring nine programs of great aesthetic diversity hailing from three continents, several Chicago premieres and three of our most treasured Chicago-based dance companies. If you love dance, then The Dance Center is where you want to be all year long.

Tadashi Endo

Tadashi Endo photo by Marciej RusinekSeptember 17, 2016 • One Night Only
Tadashi Endo performs his work Fukushima mon Amour, dancing the pain and tragedy Japan experienced in the wake of the 2011 tsunami and resultant Fukushima nuclear disaster—and the hope of reconstruction that carried the nation forward. Director of the Butoh-Center MAMU and the Butoh-Festivals MAMU in Göttingen, Germany, Endo embodies the wisdom of the Western and Oriental dance and theater traditions. His repertory includes Noh theatre, Kabuki and butoh, as well as the traditional forms of Occidental theater. In this synthesis of worldwide traditions, Endo transcends the boundaries of each, expressing the fields of tension between Ying and Yang, the male and female and their everlasting alteration.

Lucky Plush Productions

2016_223_LuckyPlush-3790September 29–October 1, 2016
Tripping the Light Fantastic: The Making of SuperStrip, the newest evening-length work from Lucky Plush, draws from classic pulp novels and comic books in a blend of dance, theatre and visual design that moves between live performance and projected video in unexpected ways. SuperStrip follows a group of washed-up superheroes attempting to reinvent themselves by starting a nonprofit think tank for do-gooders. Complex training missions and specialized movement techniques bring structure to their collective, but the unlikely supers are unable to find a shared mission and brand. In the struggle to achieve consensus, they discover that real-world problems are far more complex than singular forces of evil and having power is part of the problem.

The Seldoms

TF_10_Kristie_KahnsOctober 13–15, 2016
FamilyDance Workshop and Matinee: Oct. 15
Warfare has entered new territory—cyberspace. The Fifth, a new commission for The Seldoms by longtime ensemble member and notable performer Philip Elson, investigates virtual and surreal worlds, bringing to life the origins, captors and masters of the secret sphere. Perpetrators face internal struggles in the fight for what they believe is a greater good. But the strong voices of survivors can’t be ignored. The tension between disruption and unity tells this tale.

nora chipaumire and Kaolack

portrait_Duo Solo_Elise FitteDuval6

October 20–22, 2016
In the evening-length portrait of myself as my father, chipaumire continues her artistic investigations focused on the black body, on Africa and on the self. Performed by chipaumire, Senegalese dancer Kaolack (who danced with Compagnie Jant-Bi for many years) and Shamar Watt, portrait considers the African male through the lens of cultural traditions, colonialism, Christianity, liberation struggles—and how these ideas might impact the African family and society on a global scale. portrait is timely in its examination of black maleness as it asks, “What is it about the male body, which happens to be black, that we are afraid of?” The work takes place within a boxing ring and invites the audience to sit close as well as at a distance in witnessing the performance.

Tere O’Connor Dance


TereOconnor_600x400November 3–5, 2016
In the Chicago debut of his company, O’Connor brings a duet, Undersweet, and an as-yet untitled trio in a chamber evening. In Undersweet, created on and with Michael Ingle and Silas Riener (former member, Merce Cunningham Dance Company), O’Connor proposes that formalism might be generated by repressed sexual desire, a paradox that finds expression through this choreographic meditation. The second work, as yet untitled, bears the imprint of upheaval in our world and the sense of the loss of human traits such as compassion and reason. James Baker, a longtime collaborator, will create the musical score for the new trio.

Ballet de Lorraine

FABRICATIONS1-™BernardPrudhommeFebruary 18–19, 2017
in collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Making their first-ever tour to the United States, the Centre Choréographique National – Ballet de Lorraine, a contemporary ensemble of 26 ballet-trained dancers, is one of the most important companies working in Europe. They open our spring season with three works on the MCA Stage. Sounddance, one of Merce Cunningham’s most beloved pieces, is a work in opposition to ballet’s uniformity and unison, a fast and vigorous dance winding up into an orgy of movement that then unwinds as the dancing continues…elsewhere. Musician and composer David Tudor’s driving score provides the energetic accompaniment to Cunningham’s fast-paced choreography. Fabrications, another Cunningham work, features a shifting ensemble of 15 dancers. Choreographed using Cunningham’s signature chance procedures, the work offers a dramatic and elegiac tone, accompanied by music from Brazilian composer Emanual Dimas de Melo Pimenta. The third work of the program is Untitled Partner #3, choreographed by Petter Jacobsson and Thomas Caley. This interdisciplinary work combines dance and film in a performance-installation, searching for but never finding equilibrium between id and ego.

Ballet de Lorraine will perform at the Edlis Neeson Theater at the MCA Stage, 220 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago.

Chicago Human Rhythm Project—BAM!

Chicago Human Rhythm Project dance group performing at Spring to Dance Festival at Touhill in St. Louis, MO on May 23, 2013.

February 23–25, 2017
FamilyDance Workshop and Matinee: Feb. 25
After an absence from The Dance Center stage of almost 15 years, Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP), Chicago’s beloved and inventive percussive dance company, presents an evening of mixed repertory featuring classics from past masters and world premieres choreographed by members of BAM!, Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s resident performance ensemble. Technical virtuosity and passion are the hallmarks of the company, which never fails to engage and surprise the most seasoned audiences. CHRP formed BAM! in 2004 as a choreographic project with funding from the Chicago Dancemakers Forum and an Illinois Arts Council Choreography Fellowship and has since performed at the 5th Anniversary Beijing International Dance Festival, the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park (with the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic), Dance For Life and San Antonio’s Third Coast Rhythm Project, among other performances. BAM! appeared as part of Dance Chicago, in Jubilate at the Harris Theater and at the Spertus Institute and other Chicago venues.

Malpaso Dance Company of Havana

Malpaso9_Despedida_by_CherylynnTsushima_300dpiMarch 9–11, 2017
Malpaso is a passionate contemporary dance ensemble that embodies the rich culture of Havana. Under the leadership of choreographer and Artistic Director Osnel Delgado, the company works to bring Cuban contemporary dance into the 21st century by collaborating with top international choreographers and nurturing new voices in Cuban choreography. Following its critically acclaimed international debut at The Joyce Theater in 2014, Malpaso continues to take the dance world by storm with evocative music and dazzling dance. The Dance Center program, the company’s Chicago debut, includes a new work by one of the world’s most in-demand choreographers, Aszure Burton.

Liz Gerring Dance Company

20150729_horizon_res_2497April 6–8, 2017
In her company’s first Chicago appearance, Liz Gerring presents Horizon, which features seven dancers performing multiple phrases simultaneously in an evening-length work described as “exuberantly athletic” in The New York Times. Working with composer Michael J. Schumacher, production designer Robert Wierzel and costume designer Liz Prince, Gerring’s newest work, performed under a white ceiling cantilevered over the stage, is fresh testimony to her pure, movement-driven action and exhilarating physical surprises in a constantly changing media-saturated stage-world. Gerring is considered a 21st century formalist, about whom New York Times dance critic Alastair Macaulay has written, “This is not choreography that turns into poetic images, metaphors, stories, anything other than itself. Yet at times it’s wild, cold, amusing, surprising, impetuous.”


Current subscribers can enjoy the opportunity to design the perfect season before tickets go on sale to the general public. Check your email for your exclusive subscriber link. You can also renew by calling the Box Office at 312-369-8330.

New subscriptions will go on sale June 20th. Single tickets go on sale July 16th. Join our email list to stay in the know about all the happenings at The Dance Center. See you in the theater!

Banner: Malpaso dancers in Despedida. Photo: David Garten. Below, in order: Tadashi Endo in Fukushima mon Amour. Photo: Marciej Rusinek. Lucky Plush dancers Daniel Gibson, Sojourner Zenobia, Marc Macaranas, Michel Rodriguez Cintra, Benjamin Wardell, and Melinda Myers in Trip the Light Fantastic. Photo: William Frederking. Choreographer Philip Elson in The Fifth. Photo: Kristie Kahns. nora chipaumire in portrait of myself as my father. Photo: Elise Fitte Duval.  Tere O’Connor Dancers Silas Riener, Jimena Paz, and Eleanor Hulihan. Photo: Julieta Cervantes. CCN – Ballet de Lorraine in Fabrications>. Photo: Bernard Prudhomme. Chicago Human Rhythm Project dancers Tristan Bruns, Kristi Burris, Starinah Dixon, Zada Cheeks, and Heather Brown. Photo: ProPhotoSTL. Malpaso dancers in Despedida. Photo: Cherylynn Tsushima. Liz Gerring dancers Jake Szczypek, Molly Griffin, Pierre Guilbault, Claire Westby, Brandon Collwes and Joseph Giordano in Horizon. Photo: Miguel Anaya.


Coming Soon…16-17 Season Announcement!

Greetings fellow dance lovers…

We are putting the finishing touches on our press release announcing the 2016-2017 dance presenting season at The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago.  As soon as it is circulated to our press colleagues we will post a message to you here.  This will give readers a first look at what will be happening next year — and we’re very excited about it!  We’ll be introducing several companies to Chicago that have never before performed here, collaborating on one project with one of our esteemed presenter colleagues in town, bringing a definitely international layer to the upcoming season, increasing the presence of Chicago-based dance on our stage, and inviting our audiences on a fabulous new 10-event adventure.  Subscriptions will be encouraged!  And the discount for subscribers will be better than ever in 16-17.

Subscribe to the blog and be one of the first to hear what our season holds.  Stay tuned….


We welcome Michael Sakamoto and Rennie Harris to our stage March 31, April 1 & 2, performing their butoh-hip hop duet entitled Flash.  Below please enjoy Peter Carpenter’s program notes, introducing this work to our audiences.  We hope to see you at The Dance Center for this remarkable performance!



Flash, by Rennie Harris and Michael Sakamoto, looks at the body as a site of crisis and contradiction. Conceived as a public conversation between the artists and their respective forms—hip hop and butoh—this transcultural experiment looks for connections between African-American and Japanese-American identities and finds common ground in their artistic responses to traumatic experiences.

In the autobiographical solos within Flash, individual childhood traumas—ranging from the continuous menace of helicopters in the militarized police state of Los Angeles to experiences with violence and molestation—are represented through the sound design, voice over text, and within the sometimes grotesque contortions of the body. In this context, the introduction of American popular songs highlights the social displacement of their cultural experience in contrast to the mainstream.

While the commingling of butoh and hip hop may seem unusual to some, both are contemporary forms associated with resistance to conservative social norms. Hip hop developed in the 1970s in New York City in African American, Latino, and Afro-Caribbean neighborhoods; butoh began to gain visibility in Japan a decade earlier. Beyond the geographic and aesthetic differences, both forms are rebellious, socially challenging, and require holistic immersion (one does not “do” butoh, rather one becomes a butoh dancer, and similar values of immersion circulate in hip hop). Both have connotations to danger. Both have become global phenomena.

As evidence of the potential synchronicity between butoh and hip hop, March 2016 marked the 10-year anniversary of a pivotal Chicago festival, The Body Breaks: Butoh, Breakdancing, and Beyond, curated by Nicole LeGette for Links Hall. The Body Breaks brought together contemporary artists working in the two forms for a month of performances, workshops and public discussions. From this vantage point, Sakamoto and Harris continue not only in the ongoing development of their respective forms, but also in a distinctive coalition between butoh and hip hop that may be familiar to some Chicago audiences.

Flash provides us with a unique opportunity to witness the conversation between these cultures and these artists as they engage the body in crisis. We invite you to witness the remarkable representation of human experience that arises at the convergence of these potent dance forms.

Peter Carpenter, Ph.D.

Acting Chair of Dance

Thank you, Joe Goode

We loved having Joe Goode Performance Group at The Dance Center for a full and generous two-week residency!  And we hated to see them all head back to San Francisco last Sunday for we feel as if in many ways we are a second home to this wonderful ensemble.  From their first arrival to work on The Resilience Project to the final moment on closing night of Hush, the residency touched many lives and reminded us once again of what wonderful dance theater JGPG brings when they come our way.

Hush was the latest example of the elegant, inventive and tender work that Joe creates with his ensemble.  It’s no small task to take on subjects such as how we “hush” ourselves over desperately difficult experiences and yet sustain artistry, beauty and a certain postmodern irony in contemporary dance theater. With Joe Goode’s work, we keep coming back to the same word over and over:  human.  In this case using the skills and contributions of the performers as well as the wonderful work of Joe’s artistic collaborators, composer Ben Juodvalkis and foley artist Sudhu Tewari, Hush indeed “roared.”  And of course here within The Dance Center faculty and students, we were overjoyed to see long-time faculty member Liz Burritt back in action with JGPG, after a long hiatus of working here in Chicago and teaching in our program.

Thank you Joe & everyone! You all rocked. Come back to Chicago soon.

Next up:  Michael Sakamoto and Rennie Harris, in Flash.



Program Notes: HUSH


One of my goals in making this work was to expand the community of the art-making process to include some civilians. I wanted to develop the characters in Hush based on conversations, not just with my immediate collaborative circle, but with ordinary folks who might have experienced the phenomenon of being “hushed” or of “hushing” themselves.

To this end, a few members of the company and I set up some casual conversations with a few particular communities: LGBTQIA teens and young adults who have experienced exclusion or bullying because of their sexual identity; women who have been sexually assaulted and felt the lingering effects and the terrible stigma of that experience; elderly citizens who are living in an urban setting and contending with the “youth” culture of the city; and people with Parkinson’s disease, some elderly and some not, who have felt themselves marginalized with the onset of their disease. We asked them how and if they had felt hushed, or if they had hushed themselves. The stories flowed from there. We just listened and recorded them with our smartphones.

The challenge for me as a writer was to take a few of these delicious tidbits and weave them into the script. Much of what you will hear comes from my imagination, but there are some fairly direct quotes from the interviews, as well. None of the characters are even remotely close to the people we interviewed, but I have given them strands of what these “real” people said to lend a kind of heft and reality to the language.

I have envisioned Hush as a narrative work. I wanted to spread my wings as a writer a bit more, to see if I could write characters who were consistent throughout the piece, but I couldn’t have done it without the participation of these wonderful volunteers who inspired me with their stories.

— Joe Goode