Thodos Dance Chicago’s Final New Dances

Press Release

For 17 years, Thodos Dance Chicago has fostered new dance creation by producing New Dances, one of this city’s first and, still today, most extensive in-house choreography incubation programs.

Luis Vazquez

Now, in the series’ final year under Thodos Dance Chicago’s auspices, New Dances 2017 will give eight members of the company’s ensemble one last chance to kick off their dance shoes and show off their skills as creators and directors of their own, self-conceived new works.

With so much creative freedom, New Dances is always the must-see of Chicago’s summer dance season, never failing to serve up a diverse line-up of fresh, homegrown, fully produced new works.

New Dances 2017 is Saturday, July 15 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, July 16 at 3 p.m. at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave., Chicago. Tickets are $14-$40. For tickets and information, visit or call (773) 935-6875.

John Cartwright, Abby Ellison, Alex Gordon, Hattie Haggard, Thomas Jacobson, Jessica Miller Tomlinson, Brennen Renteria and Luis Vazquez are the eight Thodos members premiering new works at New Dances 2017. Click here for full choreographer bios.

Their mentors during the three-month new work incubation period are Chicago dance community leaders Margi Cole, Kristina Isabelle, Billy Siegenfeld and Zachary Whittenburg. Click here for panelist bios.

New Dances traditionally invites a guest choreographer to contribute an additional new work. This year, in celebration of the final year of the project, company founder and artistic director Melissa Thodos will return to her passion for new work and set a world premiere.

“Members of Thodos Dance Chicago are far more than performers – they have always been creative artists selected to join the company based on their passion and talent for choreography as well,” explains Thodos.

Alex Gordon

“One of our hallmarks is our strong commitment to support dance creation. No other dance organization has offered as comprehensive of an in-house choreography initiative as ours. We’ve done this in large part to help assure that when our ensemble members conclude their performance career, they are fully equipped to pursue a post-performance career in dance.”

To prepare for New Dances 2017, 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 full life.

They’ve already submitted creative proposals, developed budgets and handpicked their cast of dancers from within and outside the company. Now they are scheduling and overseeing rehearsals, meeting with costume and lighting designers and contributing to marketing plans.

Additionally, twice during the process, a New Dances panel of Chicago dance professionals convenes for a day-long showing of each work-in-progress to provide feedback, clarity, ideas and encouragement.