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Rena Butler Named Choreographic Associate at Gibney Company

The three-year, full-time position will provide time and space for research and travel as Butler develops new works.

Rena Butler Named Choreographic Associate at Gibney Company

Gina Gibney, Founder, Artistic Director, and CEO of the dance and social justice organization Gibney, announced today that Rena Butler has been named Choreographic Associate for its resident dance troupe, Gibney Company. This new position was created to allow Butler, who joined Gibney Company as an Artistic Associate in 2020, to continue her career as a professional dancer while further developing her talent and experience as a choreographer and leader in the dance field.

"Too often, professional dancers at Rena's level who are also bold choreographic voices have to choose one career path over the other. At Gibney, we have been working to adapt our model to create new flexible frameworks that are supportive and sustainable for dance artists," said Gina Gibney. "Through this new position we hope to empower Rena as a dancer, entrepreneur, and arts leader. She has so much to offer the field and we are thrilled to be her creative home."

Butler said, "Gibney is an incredibly impressive model for what dance institutions everywhere could actually be. They prioritize equity in every sense of the word by holding and sharing space for the various communities within the field and beyond. The momentum of this new position is in harmony with the conversations now taking place around moving systemic structures forward, and I am so proud to be a part of an organization that is actively and continually doing the work!"

The three-year, full-time position will provide time and space for research and travel as Butler develops new works for Gibney Company and for dance companies in the U.S. and abroad, while she continues to rehearse and perform with Gibney Company. As Choreographic Associate, she will be mentored by a choreographer of her choosing, and will develop a choreographic mentorship program for aspiring young dance makers from various socioeconomic backgrounds through Gibney's Moving Toward Justice Fellowship program.

Butler hails from Chicago IL, and previously performed with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, from 2017 to 2020. She has also performed with A.I.M by Kyle Abraham, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, David Dorfman Dance, Manuel Vignoulle/M-Motions, and The Kevin Wynn Collection. She trained at The Chicago Academy for the Arts, studied at Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan, and received her BFA from SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance in New York. As a choreographer, Butler was awarded the Princess Grace Award for Choreography in 2019. Her work has been presented at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago; BalletX; Boston Dance Theater; The New Orleans Museum of Modern Art, in a collaboration with Academy Award-Winning composer Terrence Blanchard; in CHTV Stories in Switzerland, and more. Butler is currently creating works for Dance Theater of Harlem, Charlotte Ballet, Whim Whim, GroundWorks DanceTheater, Norrdans, among others, and is working on a new film produced by Jacob Jonas, The Company, featuring famed ballerina Michaela DePrince. Butler has served on the consortium for Chicago Dancemakers Forum, was on the annual panel for Black Girls Dance in Chicago, and co-directed DanceLab, a free, choreographic course for Chicago teens, empowering participants of varying socioeconomic backgrounds and identities to find commonality in creation. She currently serves as a dance and choreographic mentor for young, aspiring artists as part of the Pointe People Mentorship Program.

In January of 2020, the Gibney organization announced a major gift from Andrew A. Davis, a Trustee of the Shelby Cullom Davis Charitable Fund, for the transformation of Gibney Company into a commission based, repertory company that works with renowned and rising international choreographers representing a broad range of aesthetics and techniques. As part of this transformation, Gibney Company doubled in size with the hiring of six new Artistic Associates last fall, including Butler. Plans for Gibney Company's debut at The Joyce Theater this November will be announced at a later date.

Gibney Centers, located near Union Square and in Lower Manhattan, remain temporarily closed.

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