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Gaylord And Dorothy Donnelley Foundation Supports Small Dance Companies Celebrating Decades Of Artistic Excellence And Community Impact

Dance companies from over 25 neighborhoods mark major milestones in 2022 with hundreds of programs accessible throughout Chicago.

Gaylord And Dorothy Donnelley Foundation Supports Small Dance Companies Celebrating Decades Of Artistic Excellence And Community Impact

In this 2022 Year of Chicago Dance, small dance companies offer hundreds of programs and performances across Chicago neighborhoods, providing opportunities for all ages and walks of life to learn, watch, and enjoy dance. The Chicago-based Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation (The Foundation) provides support to 28 dance companies, helping small arts organizations to reach into every neighborhood and build on Chicago's legacy as a center of artistic excellence.

"Small dance organizations are part of the everyday rhythm of our city. With programs rooted in the global diversity of Chicago, these vital companies benefit the overall health and wellness of our communities," said David Farren, Executive Director of the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation. "We are thrilled that live performance is returning to our wonderful city and that dance organizations are leading the way."

The Foundation supports companies with annual operating budgets under $1 million that produce forward-thinking work reflecting the voices of Chicago's many communities and the issues of our time. Coming out of the pandemic's isolation, small dance companies and their performances offer forums that connect individuals, artists, and communities in every corner of the city. They have studio spaces across Chicago and extend their reach even further by partnering with schools, park districts, churches, and community centers from South Chicago to Rogers Park. To view a full list of all 28 dance organizations supported by The Foundation, visit

This year, small dance companies continue to build on decades of making impact within their local communities including Chicago Moving Company (Roscoe Village, Hamlin Park)-celebrating 50 years of supporting the development of contemporary dance and dancers by hosting over 400 programs annually.

Other Foundation grantees hosting landmark events to commemorate their years of service include:

· Winifred Haun & Dancers (South Loop) celebrates 25 years of making and presenting award-winning contemporary dance with the world premiere of a new major work, When Day Comes, at the Athenaeum Theater on November 5.

· Chicago Dance Crash (Chicago), an organization that expands the appreciation of dance within the community by combining hip hop, entertainment, and athleticism, will celebrate their 20-year anniversary with the world premiere of "Booms Day" from August 26 - September 10 at The Ruth Page Center for the Arts. CDC Executive Director Mark Hackman says, "Over the past 20 years, we have promised to meet audiences right on their doorstep - indoors, outdoors, morning, and late-night, in auditoriums, museums, churches, parades, street corners, and more. Chicago Dance Crash's unique aesthetic combining street and concert forms is beloved by all Chicagoans and shows that dance can be for anyone and everyone."

· The Seldoms (Avondale) celebrates 20 years of creating highly original, multidisciplinary performances that explore the biggest questions of our time in movement, sound, and image with citywide presence including a dynamic ART on theMART projection (April 9 - June 29) and a six-week exhibition Toolbox at 20: The Seldoms from September 24 - November 13 at Hyde Park Art Center.

· The multicultural organization South Chicago Dance Theatre (Hyde Park) celebrated five years of fusing classical and contemporary dance styles in its 2021-22 season. Entering its sixth season this fall, SCDT partners with Chicago-based chorus and orchestra Music of the Baroque on performances at Hamilton Park (October 8), North Shore Center for the Performing Arts (October 9), and Harris Theatre for Music and Dance (October 11), featuring a new choreographic commission by Founder/Executive Artistic Director Kia S. Smith set to Michael Praetorius's classic score Dances from Terpsichore.

During the 2022 Year of Chicago Dance, the Foundation's dance grantees are slated to perform in public parks, plazas, and community centers across the city, reflecting the Chicago dance community's robust commitment to accessibility and inclusion:

· MOMENTA (Oak Park) will be featured at Chicago's SummerDance in Grant Park (August 20), the first time that dancers using wheelchairs will be featured in this annual event.

· Synapse Arts (Rogers Park) continues to offer free performances in public spaces throughout the city. Returning to an in-person format this year, Mural Dances gathers local dancers and musicians to create and perform projects inspired by Chicago's fascinating neighborhood murals. Upcoming Mural Dances include Park #567 on the 606 trail (Bucktown) with artists Anjal Chande, Felicia Holman, and Rahila Coats on July 23 and Jessie 'Ma' Houston Park in Kenwood/Bronzeville featuring artists Jamila Kekulah Kinney and JulieAnn Graham on August 27.

· Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP) (Calumet Heights, South Loop) is launching a free, 6-month performance and education series "Northside Southside Oneside" that will run at The Mayfair Arts Center from May 15 - October 16, featuring more than 20 Chicago-based ensembles. CHRP's annual international festival of American tap, Rhythm World, runs from July 8-24 at six different venues across Chicago, including free concerts at The DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center, Beverly Arts Center, Navy Pier, and Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

Chicago's small dance companies used the time during the pandemic to create works in response to our present moment. These works are ready for triumphant returns to the stage and world premieres:

· Multidisciplinary Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre (CRDT) presents two works in process as part of their acclaimed Inside/Out series, which invites audiences into the creative process through unique interactive preview experiences. "Metamorphosis," a preview performance inspired by the life journeys of LGBTQ+ dance artists, takes place on July 23 at Studio5 in Evanston. "Soul Remedy," a preview performance exploring the 'Aesthetic of the Cool' rooted in the Black American experience as a central component of American culture, takes place on August 5 at Constellation. The previews feature CRDT's live jazz band performing alongside the dance company. Latinx Artistic Director Wilfredo Rivera fosters a multicultural and diverse collective of artists every year, with an intentional focus on artists of color and women as lead choreographers and composers.

· Aerial Dance Chicago (Old Irving Park) presents the world premiere of Broken Compass, an evening length contemporary aerial dance work choreographed by three award-winning dance creators, Chloe Jensen, Karen Fisher Doyle, and Tracy Von Kaenel, from July 8-9 at The Ruth Page Center for the Arts.

The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation supports land conservation, artistic vitality, and regional collections for the people of the Chicago region and the Lowcountry of South Carolina. GDDF awards $1.7 million annually to 180 creatively accomplished small arts organizations of all disciplines and traditions in the Chicago metro area. For more information visit

The nearly 70-year-old Foundation supports small arts nonprofits with multi-year general operating grants (vs. program-specific) along with ongoing organizational development opportunities. These gen op grants range from $2,500 to $25,000 annually. The Foundation supports arts organizations in the following ways:

  • Supplying multiyear general operating support to all of its arts grantees. Anecdotally, multiyear general operating support is the "gold standard" most valued by grantees. It supports organizational stability, provides flexibility, and helps build further trust in relationships between funders and grantees
  • Providing value in addition to dollars. The Foundation's strength is in the overall "value proposition" of its grants - the award dollars, plus technical assistance support, hosting convenings, providing informal coaching, and underwriting scholarships for conferences and other organizational development opportunities.
  • Establishing multiple touchpoints with grantees throughout the grant cycle. Every Foundation grantee, no matter the grant size, has contact with its program officer at least once a year, usually more often. Program staff attend cohort meetings, learning sessions, and informal gatherings with various grantee clusters.

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