AN AMERICAN PORTRAIT Set for Dance Chicago at Athenaeum Theatre, 10/19

AN AMERICAN PORTRAIT Set for Dance Chicago at Athenaeum Theatre, 10/19

Dance Masters Gordon Peirce Schmidt and Laura Berman of RPM Productions present An American Portrait choreographed by Gordon Pierce Schmidt, as the opening night performance for Dance Chicago at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave. Saturday, Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. The piece, inspired by Winslow Homer's classic American painting "Snap The Whip" is danced to Aaron Copland's timeless masterpiece "Appalachian Spring." An American Portrait voices the power of the land and the people who tamed it and has been hailed as an emotional treat for audiences since its premiere in 2003. Also on the evening's program - all choreographed by Gordon Peirce Schmidt - will be Get Out Your Handkerchief with music by Christian Woehr, Bonhom with music by Christopher Rouse, Trois with music by Jean Sibelius and excerpts from Journee des Tziganes with music by John Jorgenson. Tickets for the evening are $30, $25 for students and seniors and can be purchased at or by calling the box office at 773.935.6875.

Schmidt's An American Portrait features 12 dancers and the painting, "Snap the Whip," displayed in the foreground of the stage. The painting's sincerity, honesty and hope for a better future is what inspired Schmidt to create the work, which premiered at Devos Hall in 2003. The dancers featured in the piece and throughout the evening include: Jennifer Goodman, Autumn Eckman, Teanna Zarro, Katherine Bruno, RAndy Herrera, Paul Christiano, Malachi Squires, James Stevko, Luke Joiner, Michael Aaberg, Katie Aaberg

RPM PRODUCTIONS is a non-profit arts organization dedicated to creating works and programs which inter-weave the varied disciplines of the performing arts and visual media. With a history of successful artistic crossover collaborations backed by the talents of artistic associates, Gordon Peirce Schmidt, Laura Berman and Jeff Bauer, RPM PRODUCTIONS' goal is to develop and promote The Combined abilities of existing and emerging artists. By producing work which is project specific RPM PRODUCTIONS is able to assemble artistic teams of designers, videographers, writers and composers to create accessible new works which challenge and entertain a wider range of audience.

Gordon Peirce Schmidt has been choreographing and directing dance and theatre for the past thirty years. He is a recipient of numerous awards including a Prime Time Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Achievement-Cultural Programming and two Ruth Page Awards for Choreography. Noted for his originality, musicality and ability to create an emotional experience for the audience whether dramatic or comedic, he and his works have shared the stage with many great artists of the dance world, including ballet legends Maya Pliesetskaya, who included him in her biography I MAYA, and Rudolph Nureyev with whom he had the privilege of working with at the Vienna State Opera. He has also collaborated with renowned musicians performing in a variety of genres, Bela Fleck, John Jorgenson, the Detroit Symphony, the DeVos Quartet, MaryAnn Beatty and his brother concert pianist Kimberly Schmidt and has commissioned new compositions from various artists for the original work he is so well known for. His ballet, By Django, a lively evocation of the jazz age, went on to become the signature work for Ballet Chicago, for whom he was resident choreographer between 1989-1995. During that time he co-founded and directed The Peirce Group, a dance, theatre and performing arts company, and was named "Artist of the Year" by the Chicago Tribune (1992). From 1998 through 2010 Schmidt was the executive/artistic director of the Grand Rapids Ballet Company. Under his direction the company received the ArtServe Michigan Governor's Arts Award for Outstanding Cultural Organization. Also under his direction and with his vision the company acquired its own building, constructing four beautiful studios and a state-of-the-art LEED certified 300-seat theatre for furthering the exploration and promotion of unique dance works. At that time he received commissions from the Detroit Symphony, the Grand Rapids Symphony, the West Shore Symphony and the Grand Rapids Art Museum to create works that would enhance their programming.

Photo Courtesy of RPM Productions