In Motion: NAJWA Dance Corps preserve and celebrate African American heritage through dance

Spearheaded by dance pioneer Najwa I on Chicago’s west side in 1977 and officially incorporated in 1979, NAJWA Dance Corps has carved out a path for Black creatives and has inspired audiences with its dynamic performances featuring a mix of music and dance styles that celebrate African-American dance heritage and experience. Executive director Sheila Walker […]

In Motion: Muntu Dance Theatre celebrates the African diaspora through dance, music, and folklore

Muntu Dance Theatre is a Chicago-based West African dance company that’s beloved for its commitment to innovation, community, and culture. Their stage work centers the African and African American experience, but their message is universal. “We believe that there is merit in all cultures and that we should strive to celebrate our similarities instead of […]

In Motion: Move Me Soul invests in Chicago youth to uplift a rising generation of professional dancers

Since 2008, Chicago dance organization Move Me Soul has shaped the lives of hundreds of local teens through preprofessional dance training.  The company was born out of a dance elective course led by founder and artistic director Ayesha Jaco at Austin High School. Inspired by the success of that class, she adapted her teachings—which center […]

In Motion: Joel Hall Dancers & Center uplift local artists and promote social change through urban jazz dance

In 1974, Chicago dancer and choreographer Joel Hall cofounded the Chicago City Theatre Company to amplify the creative talents and stories of some of the city’s most marginalized individuals. A Black, gay man and Cabrini-Green native, Hall’s mission was to carve out a safe space where dancers like himself could pursue concert dance. Today, the […]

In Motion: The Era Footwork Collective take footwork abroad while investing in the next generation of Chicago dance and music

“Footwork saves lives.”  Those three words comprise the mantra that the members of the Era Footwork Collective live by. The local group—also known as the Era Footwork Crew—consists of four dancers and two producers who helped pioneer Chicago Footwork, the Chicago-born electronic music genre and battle-dance styles known for their impressive speeds. “We’re products of […]

In Motion: Praize Productions Inc. fosters sisterhood and community through dance

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 […]

In Motion: Forward Momentum Chicago teaches Chicago’s youngest generations about dance and life

Since 2013, Forward Momentum Chicago has been engaging local students in the art of dance by meeting them where they are—in their schools.   The South Loop–based organization is led by founder and executive director Pierre Lockett, a professional dancer who performed with the Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Joffrey Ballet, where he also served […]

In Motion: Deeply Rooted Dance Theater reveals itself as Chicago’s “best kept secret” as it looks toward expansion

“I keep saying, in this moment, I think we may be one of the best-kept secrets,” says Nicole Clarke-Springer, the artistic director of Deeply Rooted Dance Theater.  The critically acclaimed Chicago-based dance company is beloved for its spectacular storytelling and world-class performers, but still, it’s often flown under the radar. In 2019, WTTW theater critic […]

In Motion: The Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center and Hiplet Ballerinas empower the next generation of artists

For decades, the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center (CMDC) has been at the intersection of dance, innovation, and inclusivity. Located in the South Loop, CMDC is a hub for young dancers of all skin tones, ages, and sizes. It’s also the home of the illustrious Hiplet Ballerinas, a company that has taken the dance world by […]

In Motion: The Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project centers equity and opportunity while celebrating local artistry

Amid an inequitable arts landscape, an innovative, multi-year initiative called the Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project [CBDLP] has emerged to bolster Chicago’s most beloved Black dance institutions.  For more than a century, Chicago-based Black dance organizations and artists have pioneered numerous styles, including, modern, jazz, hip-hop, tap, and footwork. They’ve also helped introduce African dance […]