Hubbard Street Dance Chicago's Dance Lab for Teens Continues Even During Shelter-in-Place

Last fall, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago's new teen program, the Dance Lab Choreographic Fellowship, launched with 22 students accepted for its inaugural year. Even as the company and school have temporarily closed their doors this spring, Hubbard Street company member and choreographer Rena Butler continues to direct this exciting choreographic-study project for students in 10th–12th grades.

At the time of shelter-in-place in March 2020, the Dance Lab still had two more workshops left to do together and a final informal performance. Butler and Kathryn Humphreys (director of Hubbard Street Education, Youth & Community Programs), quickly and agilely took the program online and into the students' homes to see it through to completion. Humphreys says: "The current situation has actually allowed us to give the students more."

"I find myself asking the question of how a resting or home space can be generative for any art practice right now," says Butler. "The course was originally designed around the concept of how environment informs identity and how identity can inform environment. Transcribing the class onto a virtual platform worked out beautifully, because it was a matter of applying what the students learned from class onto a different landscape."

As part of the workshops throughout the year, Butler had the students explore numerous artists to learn about choreography, choreographic tools and genres of dance. With students sheltering in place, she reached out to five of her colleagues—Jason Anthony Rodriguez, Connie Shiau, Micaela Taylor, Yara Travieso and Robyn Mineko Williams—to each make a video for Dance Lab students. "It was important that I contacted choreographers in the field who had varying experiences to prompt extremely different tasks each day for the students," Butler says. "The range of incredible artists who have committed to this project is phenomenal. I wanted the students to work through each task using their imaginations to dream within and beyond their environmental confines."

Each video made for the Dance Lab students was 5 to 15 minutes long; an artist introduced themself and modeled the concept the students would be exploring at home. Butler asked the artists to play with the theme of "In My Room," and each gave a choreographic prompt. The videos ranged in topics from "feeling breath" to vogueing.

After exploring the five videos, the 22 students are completing their final solo projects now and will be submitting videos to Hubbard Street to compile a final video in lieu of the performance. Students are working on their own and at times during the week that work for them, instead of scheduled Zoom meetings together. "We reached out to the students and asked them directly," Humphreys says. "We wanted to be sensitive to their capacity right now and their environments. The students are so busy right now; we wanted to be as flexible as possible."

Additionally, HSDC is excited to share these new resources, free of charge, with teachers in the coming weeks.

Teaching Tips
Courtesy Jill Randall

Fall may be fast-approaching, but it's never too late to slip in a little summer reading—especially if it'll make you all the more prepared for the perhaps crazier-than-usual season ahead.

Here are six new releases to enrich your coming school year:

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by A Wish Come True
Courtesy A Wish Come True

Studio owners who've been in the recital game for a while have likely seen thousands of dance costumes pass through their hands.

But with the hustle and bustle of recital time, we don't always stop to think about where exactly those costumes are coming from, or how they are made.

If we want our costumes to be of the same high quality as our dancing—and for our costume-buying process to be as seamless as possible—it helps to take the time to learn a bit more about those costumes and the companies making them.

We talked to the team at A Wish Come True—who makes all their costumes at their factory in Bristol, Pennsylvania—to get an inside look at what really goes into making a costume, from conception to stage.

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners

Jana Belot's 31-year-old New Jersey–based Gotta Dance has six studios, 1,720 students and, usually, 13 recitals. In a normal year, Belot rents a 1,000-seat venue for up to 20 consecutive days and is known for her epic productions, featuring her studio classes and Gotta Dance's pre-professional dance team, Showstoppers. Until March, she was planning this year's jungle-themed recital in this same way.

When the pandemic hit, Belot soon decided to do a virtual recital instead. Due to the scale of the production—300 to 500 dancers performing in each of the 13 shows—postponing or moving to an outdoor venue wasn't practical. (Canceling, for her, was out of the question.)

Unsurprisingly, Belot's virtual recital was just as epic as her in-person shows—with 10,000 submitted videos, animation, musicians and more. Here's how it all came together, and what it cost her.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.