Event—Public Programming

Choreography and the Archives


Sybil Shearer in "All is not gold, but almost," from Fables and Proverbs, around 1961

Listen to an audio recording of this program.

Dance choreographers gain inspiration for new dances in a variety of ways: sometimes re-creating or re-imagining the work of a choreographer who has come before; other times shattering all norms and traditions to break new ground.

In this program, four dancers and choreographers will discuss their varied approaches to creating new dances. They will offer wide-ranging perspectives on incorporating dance traditions found in archives or historic film footage, as well as using their knowledge of dance practice to break away from tradition and attempt something completely new.

Join us for a fascinating glimpse into the influences and creative processes that go into new dance design.


Jan Bartoszek founded and serves as artistic director for Hedwig Dances, a Chicago-based contemporary dance theater ensemble. Throughout her career, she has fostered a spirit of collaboration with other artists, merging choreography, objects, media, text, and music to create dances that resonate with emotional complexity and depth.

Ella Rosewood,a choreographer, performer, educator, and solo dance preservationist based in New York, actively preserves historic solo dances for performance and educational purposes. Her repertoire includes works by seminal artists Jane Dudley, Doris Humphrey, Louise Kloepper, Katherine Litz, Sybil Shearer, Anna Sokolow, Helen Tamiris, and Hortense Lieberthal Zera.

Melissa Thodos is a nationally renowned artist in the field of dance. Her work has been seen worldwide by over a million people through live performance, film, and television. Thodos and her company have received numerous awards and grants, including National Endowment for the Arts grants; Illinois Arts Council Fellowships, two Emmy nominations, a Chicago Dance Achievement Award, and an award from the State of Illinois.

Hedy Weiss, moderator, is a longtime Chicago theater, dance, and classical music critic, currently with Chicago Tonight, a nightly news magazine on WTTW-TV. Her written work has appeared in the London Observer, Boston Globe, Lincoln Center Playbill, Pointe Magazine, and many other publications. She received a Special Jeff Award in 2011 for her contributions to Chicagoland theater.

Explore the Newberry's Midwest Dance Collection, which encompasses over 3,200 books and periodicals on dance history, as well as over 80 manuscript collections from dancers, dance companies, dance schools and studios, and other dance affiliates.

About This Event

Support for this program has been provided by The Morrison-Shearer Foundation, which perpetuates the legacy of dancer-choreographer Sybil Shearer and photographer Helen Balfour Morrison as an inspiration for new creativity in the arts.

This event is part of our programming related to the free exhibition, The Legacy of Chicago Dance. Visit it April 27 through July 6, in our Roger J. Trienens Gallieries. Download a PDF flyer for related programs, to post and distribute.

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