As a young, rising Chicago dancer, Enneréssa LaNette envisioned herself leading an arts organization of her own. So in 2010, when she was 25 years old, she founded Prazie Productions Inc. (PPI) on the city’s south side. “I always knew that eventually I would be a professional artist and start an organization where we can really serve people of color and underserved communities,” she says.  

At first, Davis taught one to two dance classes weekly to local youth. She’s since expanded PPI to include a RIZE Pro-Elite professional dance company, RIZE Youth Company for dancers ages three to 17, a youth performing arts academy, and community outreach programming.

RIZE Pro-Elite stands out among Chicago dance companies for its strong storytelling, use of spoken word, and movement styles from the African diaspora. The invite-only company, which Davis (who serves as the company’s executive artistic director) describes as a “sisterhood,” consists entirely of women of color, many of whom also lead their own arts organizations or businesses. 

Enneressa Davis. Courtesy Nohemi Moran

“I say that I’m a leader of leaders, and so within the company, we really try to galvanize that next generation of women leaders in the arts,” Davis says. 

To accommodate its dancers’ busy schedules, RIZE Pro-Elite has a shorter performance season, and the company only rehearses once to twice a week. However, its members have grown close and still meet up during the offseason. 

Through PPI’s youth programming and outreach work, the organization serves nearly 300 students each year. Its youth academy offers a variety of classes, including ballet, jazz, and contemporary. PPI also works with Chicago Public Schools and partners with community groups to provide arts programming tailored to student needs.

Davis and her team take the responsibility of mentoring the next generation of dancers seriously. They pride themselves on their holistic approach to dance, which helps them foster their students’ artistic and personal development. In an industry that’s frequently labeled cutthroat, and is fraught with narrow beauty standards and a lack of body diversity, PPI is committed to cultivating an inclusive, loving environment for emerging dancers.

“The things that we saw and experienced in our prior dance careers, we don’t want to see happen to our students,” says PPI director of arts Tashielle Tamulewicz. “We don’t care what you look like. We don’t care about your size. The one thing that we do care about is just loving on our students and making sure that they’re okay.”

Davis says that PPI has experienced its share of obstacles and setbacks since its founding, but she takes some of those challenges in stride. “Being a Black organization, let’s just keep it real: We’re historically marginalized and underresourced,” she says. “I think the approach that I try to take is to set our own tables and be our own resource throughout our community.”

One of the most effective ways to be your own resource is to connect with like-minded peers. Earlier this year, PPI joined the second cohort of the Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project (CBDLP), which was launched in 2019 to provide operational support, funding, and performance opportunities to local Black-led dance organizations in an effort to make Chicago’s dance landscape more equitable. 

“Seeing [CBDLP’s] work for those first three years. I was just like, ‘We need to be a part of that,’” Davis says. “It was a no-brainer.”

Many of PPI’s leaders have ties to the other companies within the cohort; Davis, for instance, previously danced for Joel Hall Dancers & Center. By joining CBDLP, PPI has been able to rekindle old connections and work directly with some of Chicago’s most beloved dance institutions to elevate and showcase the necessity of Black artistry. The power of the Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project is that it brings Black dance companies together to demonstrate the collective power of these organizations and how they are stronger when they are unified.

In addition to their involvement with CBDLP, PPI is looking forward to a summer filled with performances and youth programming. 

On June 4, they will premiere Call Her By Name, their first staged theatrical work in two years (after filming their first motion picture), at Millenium Park, as part of the city’s Millenium Park Residency Program. PPI was one of four local organizations selected by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) to take part in the residency (which also includes the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance, and the National Public Housing Museum), and is the only group in the cohort that is Black woman–led. PPI will return to Millenium Park for the Chicago Blues Festival from June 8-11 to present a photography installation titled “The Rhythm Within Our Blues.” And from July 6-28, they’ll host a performing arts summer camp and dance intensive at their home base on South King Drive.

The act of debuting two major creative works in front of the large, diverse audiences that flock to Millennium Park speaks to PPI’s mission of uplifting local artists of color. 

“I’m most excited that Chicago really gets a taste of all that the south side has to offer,” Davis says. “We have such great talent here on the south side of Chicago.”

The Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project is a program of the Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago. Their current cohort of local dance companies includes Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center & Hiplet Ballerinas, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, the Era Footwork Collective, Forward Momentum Chicago, Joel Hall Dancers & Center, M.A.D.D. Rhythms, Move Me Soul, Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago, NAJWA Dance Corps, and Praize Productions Inc. For more about CBDLP, visit and