Dance Works Chicago, dance company member

Julie Nakagawa, Artistic Director
Chicago, IL

1. Describe your organization’s mission and its work in 3 adjectives. Please explain the adjectives you selected.

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.

DanceWorks Chicago is colorful, from our logo to our artists to our way of life--embracing an environmentally-friendly, green, approach to communication; being fiscally-disciplined by staying in the black.

Adventurous! DanceWorks Chicago embraces risk and adventure in the studio, on stage, in unexpected partnerships, creating a safe environment to develop the muscle of courage through new experiences and new relationships. FEAR LESS!

DanceWorks Chicago is earnest in our efforts to nurture experiences of significance for everyone from artist to audience. With an inspiring and diverse palette of artists and dances, DWC is always moving. Our ability to drive home that message by bringing people closer to dance, and dancers, and nourishing that relationship is our pleasure and our responsibility as a good dance citizen.

2.  What inspires the work of your organization and why?

Where the traditional dance company model focuses on putting dances on stage, DWC invests in and shines a spotlight on the individual artists, filling a niche in the dance ecosystem. The early career artist inspires us to provide a challenging and supportive environment to enhance their journey from “good to great”, with the goal of being a springboard for artists and a magnet for audiences who want to connect with the work of art. 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 providing mentorship and perspective for all involved. Creating an environment for meaningful exploration by artists and audiences is an important part of continuing the forward movement of the art form as well as part of building Chicago as a destination for dance.

3.  What accomplishment from the past year is your organization most proud of and eager to share with Dance/USA’s membership and the field at large?

DanceWorks Chicago celebrated its 5th anniversary in the 2011-2012 season, which is an accomplishment in itself given the challenging economic climate.  It was also an exciting season of firsts, with a healthy balance of local, national, and international opportunities:

Local: DWC was honored to make our debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a special family program entitled Magical Movements in which the dancers help bring the orchestra to life. We also collaborated with Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago on inspiring artistic exchange in classes, rehearsals, and on stage in a program featuring multiple shared performances, including a world premiere.

DWC traveled from coast to coast, teaching, creating, networking, performing…living up to our tag line always moving!

International: Ciao, Italia! DanceWorks Chicago was thrilled to offer our artists a chance to experience another culture during our first-ever tour to Italy where we presented repertoire programs to enthusiastic Italian audiences. The food wasn’t bad, either!

4.  Where do you see dance in the future and how does your organization fit within that vision?

Dance will always be an international language. DanceWorks Chicago strives to nurture artists with unique voices, whether articulating the use of a traditional movement vocabulary or communicating a movement lexicon with a fresh perspective to the art form. In tandem, DanceWorks Chicago desires to develop an audience with the curiosity to curate their own experiences.

5.  As an organization, what do you hope your dance legacy to be?

DanceWorks Chicago is a place where connections happen, relationships are valued and nurtured, and the spirit of excellence binds a vibrant community. To inspire and empower a community of artists, audience, and good dance citizens in Chicago and beyond through the incubator of DanceWorks Chicago is one way we hope to impact the field.  DWC also works hard to create value for dancers and dance, honoring artists by paying salaries and benefits, and working within an economic ecosystem that is respectful of and sustainable for individuals, organizations, and the art form. We hope integrity and generosity of spirit is reflected in our every move.