DanceWorks Chicago
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DanceWorks Chicago

Chicago, Illinois, United States

Chicago, Illinois, United States
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"Press Quotes"

Chicago Publications

“I got a strong jolt of engaging creativity that took me by surprise and made me want more.”
- Richard Christiansen, Former Chief Critic, Chicago Tribune

“Robert Battle's brief but brilliant Etude proved a marvelous, miniature showcase for the new, up-and-coming DanceWorks Chicago, evidence that artistic director Julie Nakagawa retains her keen eye for smart work and crisp onstage talent."
- Sid Smith, Chicago Tribune

“Julie Nakagawa's keen eye for talent and brilliant coaching skills produce mature dance from her ambitious, young sextet.”
-Zac Whittenberg, Flavorpill Chicago

"Eat to the Beat offers the Harris an exciting opportunity to collaborate with DanceWorks Chicago on an inventive new program that not only reflects a unique perspective of the Harris' founding mission of partnership and collaboration, but also ensures that our offerings continue to feature inspired, imaginative programming and artists with innovative repertory,"
-Michael Tiknis, President and Managing Director, Harris Theater for Music and Dance

“Meanwhile, the Harris' Michael Tiknis and fledgling DanceWorks Chicago proved, with the new series, Eat to the Beat, that even the lunch hour can serve up fine dance.” - Sid Smith, Chicago Tribune

International Publications

“Love Hurts…Petrushka was enthusiastically received by a strikingly young audience – it was upbeat, entertaining, and dazzled with amazing dancers.”
- Wolfsburger Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany

“Love Hurts…Petrushka …an excellent and extraordinary choreographic composition: 60 minutes nonstop energy from the ensemble as well as the soloists. 60 minutes of excitement and amazement in the audience. 60 minutes of body control par excellence in this colorful dance spectacle - this performance was exceptional.”
- Wolfsburger Nachrichten, Germany

“This wild mix of dance styles, completely different in time, expression, technique and underlying music, almost makes it seem as if the evolution of dance is happening right before your eyes: Everything is interdependent. Everything is connected. This is almost anarchy. A more innovative and complete performance is hard to imagine.”
-Leverkusener Anzeiger, Germany

- Various

"DanceWorks Chicago: Live review"

Posted in Dance by Zachary Whittenburg on November 17th, 2010 at 12:58 am
Though its husband-and-wife founders, Andreas Böttcher and Julie Nakagawa, have long been major players in the Chicago dance scene, DanceWorks Chicago is still a young entity, just entering its fourth season. Its dancers are young, too: Böttcher and Nakagawa fill their performing company’s three female and three male slots, which cycle about every 18–24 months, with fresh college grads, dancers whose apprenticeships with other troupes have ended, and talented scholarship students a few years out of high school. In many ways, DWC resembles Böttcher and Nakagawa’s previous co-directorship: Hubbard Street 2’s first ten years, 1997–2007.
Unconventional programming has become a hallmark of their new venture. Last season, DWC worked with the Harris Theater in launching Eat to the Beat: Cheap, short, lunchtime dance concerts rebooted November 12 with River North Chicago Dance Company. It’s a driving force behind emerging choreographers’ lottery Dance Chance and regularly hosts free midday stage and studio showings dubbed Dance Bytes. Its daily morning practice is a community hub, open to professionals from all companies. (Full disclosure: I was a regular teacher of these classes for about a year.) And its evening offerings often take the form of something called a Dance Flight, the latest of which was held November 16 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts. Named to evoke a wine flight, they’re two breezy, one-hour triple bills presented back-to-back. One is $10, both are $15; the decision to spend that extra hour and Lincoln can be spontaneous.
In a field that’s often embarrassingly resistant to smelling the coffee, DWC stays up-to-date; as I tweeted after a recent Dance Chance, it’s the first Chicago troupe to include QR codes on its paper programs (scanning one bounces you to more detailed performance information on DWC’s blog). But the human touch is always up front: Nakagawa warmly hosts DWC’s events, peppering her apron speeches with timely humor and gently reminding audiences that shared responsibility is central to live performance. She chooses her words carefully and, more often than not, her vocabulary is what you’d use to describe a family, not a business.
This recent Dance Flight highlighted another development: DWC has quietly become one of Chicago dance’s busiest international ambassadors, still warm from its Mexico City debut and off to Germany the following day. Underlining their itinerary, Böttcher and Nakagawa programmed Mexican-born choreographer Edgar Zendejas’s Sada, one of DWC’s first commissions, and two works by prolific choreographer Christian Spuck, in residence at Stuttgart Ballet and the new artistic director of Zürich Ballet, beginning with its 2012–13 season.
It’s a good thing that we have DWC out there showing the world what Chicago dance is about; though modest in scale, the operation has an uncommon generosity of spirit, and a humility on stage that resists show-offy touches. (If anything, DWC’s dancers could stand to sell their talents a little more aggressively.) These two flights were especially choice pours of choreography; DWC is occasionally saddled with lackluster work, but the pair of Spucks—Die Blume and Paradigm, both company premieres—put its strengths up front, the return of Harrison McEldowney’s Chess classics–scored Blues for Ann was welcome, and Sada is your better Zendejas. A world premiere quartet to Vivaldi, Ajorca, by former Hubbard Street dancer Brian Enos, needs a more declarative approach to its Sechs Tänze–style musical humor, but given time to settle and confident performances, will complement much of DWC’s repertoire. (It’s nice to see Enos, a mohawk-sporting former colleague given to clowning around, having a little fun in his work, too.)
Gina Patterson’s full-company My Witness, closer of the first Flight, has been in heavy rotation since its premiere—you might call it DWC’s signature piece. When it opens, Patterson is fighting the score, a suite of songs by Chicago folk group Sons of the Never Wrong. She matches it step for beat and largely ignores the peculiar, spiky lyrics. We struggle to know these print dress–wearing women and cargo-panted, t-shirted men, their relationships no more legible than a story on looseleaf dropped in a hallway collision and scattered out of order.
It must’ve been choreographed in sequence, though: By halfway through, Patterson’s relaxed, stretched out, and choosing better battles. She shifts from the fast-paced manhandling of garden-variety contemporary dance to a language that lets fingertips linger touching before parting and eye contact burn in. A connective tissue of stillness becomes the work’s true statement. Two male duets, beautifully danced by James Johnson and Joseph Kudra, are fluid in their sharing of weight and openly, tenderly bromantic. “Dance, take your time/Dance, let it be/Dance, you have every right/With or without me” come late lyrics, and what you see is obviously listening. When it ends with a kind of family portrait, it’s of the company as much as of the characters.
DanceWorks Chicago tours Germany through mid-December; interested parties may inquire about joining the company for an 11-day companion trip including tickets to performances by Leipzig Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, Bavarian State Opera Ballet and the Forsythe Company, an excursion to Schloss Neuschwanstein, and other Deutsch delights.
- TimeOut Chicago



Choreographed by Brian Enos, ajorca, a kinetic quartet set to music of Vivaldi, inspires the dancers to be at times serious and at times playful with each other and the music.

Beat in the Box
Featuring music by human beatboxer Yuri Lane, this full company work created for DanceWorks Chicago by Brian Enos is a playful urban romp showing off the youthful exuberance of the dancers.

Blues for Ann
Choreographer Harrison McEldowney pays tribute to Chicago’s Chess Records label with a fun and sassy sextet.

Dance Sport
This full-company work by Harrison McEldowney combines the worlds of dance and sport in a clever and witty way, appealing and entertaining for dance aficionados as well as audiences new to dance.

Die Blume
Two dancers, one flower and a patch of grass, choreography by Christian Spuck, set to Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik.

If Ever (an Ocean) Relinquished
Created for DanceWorks Chicago by Alex Ketley, this piece explores tension between couples across a landscape of space and sound.

Love Hurts…Petrushka
An urban version of the classic ballet Petrushka features the original Stravinsky score augmented with new music by DJ Opossum and choreography by Mario Schröder, with additional movement by Julie Pecquet.

My Witness
Dedicated to those who have walked beside us as our witness through life, this moving and passionate piece choreographed for DanceWorks Chicago by Gina Patterson is set to songs of folk band Sons of the Never Wrong.

The One Hundreds: 1-50
Created by Twyla Tharp in 1970 is a unique dance involving studies of sequencing, memory, and physical stamina. The movements, arranged in 11-count segments, are based on activities anyone can do, such as walking, shaking, throwing a ball, and typing.

Created by Christian Spuck, this musically expressive full company work brings Gary Fry's percussion score to life, one instrument at a time.

Sada, which means “constantly” in Hindi, created for DanceWorks Chicago by Edgar Zendejas, has a kinetic mystique explored through solos, duets, and trios.



Founded in May 2007, DANCEWORKS CHICAGO (DWC) is an organization committed to building a foundation for the individual artistic growth of dancers and choreographers, providing a laboratory from which early career artists propel themselves and the art form to a new level through training, collaboration, mentorship, and performance. DWC fills a niche in the dance ecosystem by investing in and shining a spotlight on the individual artists. Dancers are encouraged to explore their technical capability as well as their artistic curiosity in an individualized and deeply personal approach with the goal of nurturing passionate, articulate artists able to make meaningful contributions to the art form. Choreographically, we look to uncover new voices while also embracing opportunities to connect with more established choreographers building a repertoire representing the work of a diverse group of dance makers.

Under the inspired leadership of Artistic Director Julie Nakagawa and CEO Andreas Böttcher, an exceptional family of six hand-picked dancers brings integrity, passion, and excellence to performances. DWC has demonstrated its commitment to illuminating and giving context to the artistic journey, our pleasure and our duty as a good dance citizen. We have established a menu of offerings providing access to the creative process and the artists, welcoming both dance-lovers and dance-newcomers to connect with the work of art.

In addition to being an innovative contributor to Chicago's cultural landscape, DWC has enjoyed many national and international performance opportunities. DWC is dedicated to creating an environment conducive to nurturing experiences of significance for everyone from artist to audience.

DanceWorks Chicago is always moving.