Dance studios and venues | 2012 Student Guide
See Time Out Chicago’s weekly magazine or go to timeoutchicago.com/dance for up-to-date Dance Listings and events.
✽ Recommended or notable
✽ Academy of Dance, Official School of the Joffrey Ballet 10 E Randolph St (312-784-4600, joffrey.org). The Adult Program at Joffrey’s official academy is designed for dancers ages 15 and up. We’re told, “Whether you are a working professional or someone who wants to learn to dance for the first time, there is a class for you!” Besides ballet, the schedule offers Pilates classes as well as a few jazz, hip-hop and fitness classes.
Aerial Dance Chicago at Belle Plaine Studio 2014 W Belle Plaine Ave (773-463-4402, aerialdancechicago.org). Chloe Jensen and members of her aerial/acro dance troupe—formerly known as AMEBA—will help you expand your range of motion beyond the level of the dance floor. The team teaches adults and kids to fly and soar safely, with grace and creativity.
✽ The Aloft Loft 2000 W Fulton St, suite F 319 (773-507-2604, aloftloft.com).Directed by accomplished aerialist Shayna Swanson, this popular spot for off-the-floor dance and graceful circus arts gets the most out of its 8,000 square feet of studio space. It’s your one-stop shop for training in aerial conditioning and technique, trapeze, clowning, tumbling and more. If you’re inspired by what you see at El Circo Cheapo, grab a schedule on the way out.
✽ Ballet Chicago 17 N State St, 19th floor (312-251-8838, balletchicago.org). Former New York City Ballet principal dancer Daniel Duell is a primary source on classic American ballet, overseeing training in the Balanchine style of ambitious young dancers season after season. Ballet Chicago moved from its well-loved but well-worn Wabash space in October of 2009. Taking class in the school’s new digs is a joy: Enormous windows and incredible views of the Loop make you feel as if you’re dancing in the clouds, and there’s plenty of room for warming up and cooling down. Offerings for adults include beginning and intermediate ballet, Pilates and fitness.
✽ Big City Swing Studio 1012 W Randolph St (312-243-0700, bigcityswing.com). This trendy swing and Lindy school is available for window-shopping at its popular first Fridays parties; a 45-minute lesson precedes the open dance floor, and it’s even BYOB for those in need of a little liquid encouragement.
✽ Chicago Dance 415 W Huron St (312-337-9503, chicagodance.com). Owned and operated by world-champion ballroom dancers Tommye Giacchino and Gregory Day, these studios offer a ton of classes for kids and adults in a wide variety of ballroom styles. They also organize parties and workshops and offer private lessons.
✽ Chicago Moving Company at Hamlin Park Fieldhouse 3035 N Hoyne Ave (773-880-5402, chicagomovingcompany.org). Hamlin Park Fieldhouse’s second floor provides a welcoming environment for practice of modern dance, yoga and holistic exercise geared toward everyone from little kids to professionals.
Dance Center Chicago 3868 N Lincoln Ave (773-880-5044, dancecenterchicago.com). Getting ready to tie the knot? This North Center ballroom school specializes in prepping folks for their first spin on the dance floor as a married couple. It also understands the vagaries of commitment: Progressive series close to new students after week two if you’re ready to say “I do,” but it also offers drop-in lessons year-round using punch cards you can purchase online.
✽ Dance Center Evanston 1934 Dempster St, Evanston (847-328-6683, dancecenterevanston.com). Long a haven for kids’ dance classes, DCE also has an open roster of classes for teens and adults. Director Béa Rashid has amassed one of the area’s biggest faculties, which includes representatives from Elements Contemporary Ballet (Mike Gosney) and other companies. Study advanced tap, ballet, jazz, hip-hop and more.
Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago 1306 S Michigan Ave (312-369-8330, colum.edu/dancecenter). Join the degree-seeking undergrads and some of the city’s most dedicated professionals as a “community student” in advanced morning modern dance class, or sign up for a beginning course in the dance style of your choice. The building also contains a 268-seat “black-box” theater consistently offering one of Chicago’s strongest lineups of contemporary and experimental touring dance companies.
Dance SPA 1890 N Milwaukee Ave (773-904-7892, dancespasouth.com). The Zumba craze continues at this Bucktown studio, which offers calorie-incinerating dancercise for both kids and adults. There are also seasonal private and group pre-wedding crash courses in social dancing, Bollywood-inspired cardio training and a “chair dance party” for bachelorettes.
✽ Flamenco Chicago Studio 2914 W Belmont Ave (773-680-0039, flamencochicago.com). Rosetta Magdalen’s studio offers a choice between getting feisty and exploring inner peace: 10–15 flamenco dance classes each week, for first timers through intermediate and advanced levels. Students interested have the opportunity to perform in two professionally staged showcases each year.
Fred Astaire Dance Studio 200 N Michigan Ave (312-263-6505, fredastaire.com). A national franchise of ballroom studios with locations in about half the 50 states, FADS has had ample opportunities to hone its methods. Jesse DeSoto runs this Loop location, employing instructors with diverse backgrounds in competitive dance and athletics. FADS is specifically geared toward grooming and sponsoring competition champions, but also offers social dance classes for the laid-back-types.
Gus Giordano Dance School 5230 N Clark St (773-275-5230, gusgiordanodanceschool.com). Housed for years in a single location on Davis Street in Evanston, the academy and company founded by jazz-dance pioneer Gus Giordano are now separate entities. Amy Paul Giordano directs the school, which moved south to Andersonville. Take a look at the class schedule, with offerings for toddlers, adults, and ages between, at giordanodanceschool.com.
Lou Conte Dance Studio 1147 W Jackson Blvd (312-850-9766, hubbardstreetdance.com). Weekday morning and daytime classes cater to professional and aspiring dancers practicing technique, while evening and weekend classes are filled with novice adults and semi-retired hoofers. The spacious studios encourage thinking big and, if Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is in town, your visit can include a sneak peek at the company’s rehearsals. An occasional celebrity or two has been known to pop through the studios for a dress run before a big show. Did someone say Beyoncé?
Jasmin Jahal School of Dance 355 W Irving Park Rd (773-777-4037, bestbellydancechicago.com). Jahal’s belly-dancing academy has long been one of Chicago’s best sources of training in Egyptian and other Middle Eastern styles. Many classes are beginner-friendly, but her expert faculty will gladly guide as far as you want to go.
✽ Joel Hall Dancers & Center 5965 N Clark St (773-293-0900, joelhall.org). Though housed in many buildings since its founding in 1974, Hall’s school, and much of its faculty, has remained constant as fertile ground integral to the city’s jazz-dance scene. The studio offers roughly 150 adult and children’s classes each week, as well as regular Skill Test Sundays where dancers can be assessed and receive recommendations from faculty. In addition, this facility is home to three namesake performing companies: Joel Hall Dancers Youth Company (teens), JHD II (second company) and the Joel Hall Dancers (young professionals).
✽ Latin Street Dance Academy 1335 W Lake St, suite 103 (312-427-2572, latinstreetdancing.com). This is where to go when your hips don’t lie. LSD is a comprehensive source for Latin dance lessons, plus leads on club nights and parties hosted at bars and nightclubs within the school’s vast network. Current class offerings include Brazilian samba, rhumba/guaguanco, hip-hop, Argentine tango and—for those still working on their New Year’s resolutions—Belly Dancing Abs.
May I Have This Dance 5246 N Elston Ave, second floor (773-635-3000, mayihavethisdance.com). Led by Nino DiGuilio, May I Have This Dance follows a core value of “genuine passion in a welcoming environment.” Classes on offer run the gamut of couples’ forms, from salsa and bachata to Lindy Hop and West Coast swing. Most are taught as four-week workshops; monthly passes are available.
MaZi Dance Fitness Centre 2001 W North Ave (773-278-9600, mazidancefitness.com). At MaZi, music rules. The dance-fitness center delves into muscular structure work without the strenuous nature of cardio gym equipment. Kids and adult classes are taught by current and former performers who have studied with the likes of San Francisco Ballet and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, among others. Varieties include Ballerina Fight Club (boxing), Zumba and hip-hop.
✽ Pineapple Dance Studio 7518 W Madison St, Forest Park (708-488-8115, pineappledance.org). Not to be confused with London’s Pineapple Dance Studio—owner Erika Ochoa swears it’s a coincidence—this friendly suburban school specializes in Middle Eastern and belly dance but also offers West African, break dancing and hip-hop. Registration and proper attire are required.
Quilombo Cultural Center 1757 N Kimball Ave (773-227-8879, capoeira-angola-chicago.org). No doubt you’ve heard of the trendy Brazilian dance/martial-art form capoeira—well, there’s a place that takes seriously the steps necessary to accurately (and safely) learn its eye-popping tricks. New students must complete a five-week session that introduces the basic movements, music and history of capoeira Angola, but if you’re less than keen on being upside down, they’ll happily teach you samba, belly dancing, jujitsu or muay Thai instead.
Rast Ballet & Dance Studio 1803 W Byron St, second floor (773-419-4487, rastballet.com). Instructor Natalie Rast has created an environment to hone your technique and enjoy the challenge of a ballet class. Rast’s weekly schedule includes ballet, yoga, African dance and hip-hop for adults.
✽ Soham Dance Space 922 N Damen Ave (708-253-3572, sohamdancespace.org). Director Anjal Chande is the latest exponent of a city-wide resurgence in classical Indian dance, Bharatanatyam in particular. Chande has studied under a variety of instructors, including Hema Rajagopalan, director of Natya Dance Theatre.
✽ Studio Mangiameli 2845 W Diversey Ave (312-593-3865, studiomangiameli.com). A new studio for flamenco dance and Pilates conditioning helmed by acclaimed performer Chiara Mangiameli, Studio Mangiameli offers classes for both beginners and advanced students. Original artwork and photography from Spain serves as inspirational decor.
✽ Visceral Dance Center 2820 N Elston Ave (773-772-1771, visceraldance.com).Nick Pupillo’s state-of-the-art facility offers jazz, ballet, hip-hop and more, and a user-friendly website makes finding the right class a breeze. Many instructors are members of the city’s top companies; with a rotating cast of in-demand guest teachers, Visceral is one of the busiest and most reputable studios in town.
Yallah! Dance Studio 116 W Illinois Ave, fifth floor (708-372-7741, yallahdance.org). A new academy for Middle Eastern dance forms has sprung up near the Magnificent Mile, opened by Zahra Gamal and PURE Chicago dance director Sherihan Jabir. Morning classes are held on Saturdays, with a fuller schedule on weekdays occasionally including workshops and guest instructors. There’s also Zumba for a bit more groove.
Athenaeum Theatre 2936 N Southport Ave (773-935-6860, athenaeumtheatre.com). This antiquated, cathedral-like building was once an annex to a neighboring mammoth church. Now it has several studio theaters and a large proscenium mainstage that play landlord to companies of all shapes and sizes, including dance and performance art. Many theaters also maintain office space in the building.
✽ Auditorium Theatre 50 E Congress Pkwy (312-922-2110, auditoriumtheatre.org). Part of the Loop’s landmark Auditorium Building and overseen by Roosevelt University, this 1889 theater is a stunning piece of Adler & Sullivan architecture with great acoustics. The Aud puts on shows of all genres, from Broadway, cabaret and dance, to jazz and the occasional major act such as R. Kelly and Björk.
Center on Halsted, Hoover-Leppen Theatre 3656 N Halsted St (773-472-6469, centeronhalsted.org). A 161-seat black-box theater with a spacious lobby and rooftop deck, the Hoover-Leppen hosts a variety of LGBT-related events and functions as an all-inclusive house of worship on Sunday mornings. If anything works too well at the state-of-the-art facility, it’s the air conditioning: Bring a sweater.
Chicago Cultural Center, Dance Studio 77 E Randolph St (312-742-8497, hedwigdances.com). The Cultural Center offers regular workshops for enthusiasts and professional dancers, and the space hosts DanceBridge, a series of free in-progress showings.
✽ Clinard Dance Theatre 1747 S Halsted St (312-399-1984, clinardance.org). Founded in 1999, this collaborative ensemble makes a variety of dance centered around flamenco and Spanish folkloric traditions. Its doors are often kept open late on second Fridays for free performances during Pilsen’s gallery crawl.
Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago 1306 S Michigan Ave (312-369-8330, colum.edu/dancecenter). Columbia’s dance department building also contains a 268-seat “black-box” theater consistently offering one of Chicago’s strongest lineups of contemporary and experimental touring dance companies.
✽ DEFIBRILLATOR 1136 N Milwaukee Ave (773-485-6284, dfbrl8r.com). Founder and artist Joseph Ravens calls this crucial new storefront space a performance-art “gallery,” and offers it up for rental for rehearsals. Through partnerships it hosts master classes
such as a recent series of Butoh workshops, and evening shows feature everything from high-concept lipsynching to avant-garde dance to chaotic indoor snowball fights.
The Den Theatre 1333 N Milwaukee Ave, second floor (773-398-7028, thedentheatre.com). Keep an eye out for under-the-radar performances at this loftlike space and intimate theater, as well as dance workshops and physical theater labs.
Hamlin Park Fieldhouse Theater 3035 N Hoyne Ave (773-880-5402, chicagomovingcompany.org). With a huge stage and modest house, this venue is heavily used by the indie dance community. A variety of classes are held here, and companies and choreographers rent it for shows and rehearsals.
✽ Harris Theater 205 E Randolph St (312-334-7777, harristheaterchicago.org). The sleek Harris Theater prides itself on being the area’s least pretentious theater for brand-name acts. The home of numerous forward-thinking new music groups (Fulcrum Point New Music Project), the Chicago Opera Theater, the CSO’s MusicNOW series and the city’s bigger dance troupes, the Harris is Chicago’s best mainstream-alternative hall, if that’s not a contradiction in terms.
High Concept Laboratories 1401 W Wabansia St (773-883-1090, highconceptlaboratories.org). Besides being the best place to catch the Hideout’s annual block party this versatile space hosts invitation-only art exhibits, installed performances, fund-raising parties and more, in addition to offering artist residencies.
Holstein Park Fieldhouse 2200 N Oakley Ave (312-742-7554). Zephyr Dance has long been in residence in this charming building, hosting classes and camps for kids and evening performances of contemporary dance.
Links Hall 3435 N Sheffield Ave (773-281-0824, linkshall.org). This haven for the research, development and presentation of new performance work has occupied the same building since its founding as an artists’ cooperative in 1978, before Wrigleyville evolved into a postgrad playground. Public performance programming began in 1980, fostering an environment for artists to experiment in dance, music and performance art.
✽ MCA Stage 220 E Chicago Ave (312-397-4016, mcachicago.org). Expect to experience the edgy in the black-box theater at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The steeply pitched seating area offers good sight lines from every seat in the house, but the sound is a little dry and doesn’t arrive with much force. It has only 300 seats, so finding one of your own can be a little tough, since the MCA tends to book artists with a fair amount of cachet.
✽ Menomonee Club Drucker Center, Fasseas White Box Theater 1535 N Dayton St (312-664-4631, menomoneeclub.org). Chicago’s dance scene got a lift with the transformation of this youth center’s front studio into an airy, versatile venue for small-scale performance. Keep an eye out for a series called Dance Union, which brings local artists together around themes dreamt up by curator Ayako Kato.
NEIU Auditorium, Northeastern Illinois University 3701 W Bryn Mawr Ave (773-442-4636, boxoffice.neiu.edu). With regular appearances by Concert Dance, Inc. and Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater, this mid-sized venue often hosts performances of the moving sort. Sight lines aren’t a problem here: The house is very steeply raked, which means your view won’t be blocked by even the tallest patron, although looking down on dancers isn’t ideal for some types of choreography.
Northwestern University, Marjorie Ward Marshall Dance Center 10 Arts Circle Dr, Evanston (847-491-3147, dance.northwestern.edu). The largest of the Ward Center’s studios, “the Ballroom,” is periodically transformed into an intimate theater, both for in-house student showings and rentals by proper companies.
OuterSpace Studio 1474 N Milwaukee Ave, third floor (847-275-1626, thespacemovementproject.org). OuterSpace’s managing entity, dance company the Space/Movement Project, offers this mid-sized loft to movement artists, yogis and somatic practitioners for classes, rehearsals and informal performances.
✽ Ruth Page Center for the Arts 1016 N Dearborn St (312-337-6543, ruthpage.org). Generations of dancers have passed through this Chicago institution. Founded by Chicago heiress and historically significant ballerina Ruth Page, the school took over a former Moose Lodge, which now houses several studios and a small theater for shows like the recent collaboration between the Seldoms and the Taiwanese company WCdance. Although ballet is the house specialty, jazz, Pilates and yoga are also offered. Morning classes are geared toward professionals and enthusiasts.
✽ Storefront Theater, Gallery 37 Center for the Arts 66 E Randolph St (312-742-8497, dcatheater.org). The city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events runs this well-appointed space, putting a Loop-sized spotlight on work by Chicago’s best small companies, like Chicago Dance Crash’s latest run of “Gotham City.”