Did you know--Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble is not our “real” name? At 26, and just starting out, I thought I was just going to do one “project” at a time in a “danztheatre” style with a “company” of people. I wasn’t thinking about starting a not for profit.
Then, through a combination encouragement from others, a leap of faith, and destiny, I filed the Articles of Incorporation for Project Danztheatre Company, which on February 6, 2002, became official in the eyes of the IRS.
To market the company, many people suggested that the company go by “Adler Danztheatre Project,” because at the time I was the one creating the work. But this never felt right to me. It seemed a bit egotistical. I was taking credit for all the work, and that just wasn’t true.
From the start the collaborative spirit and creative voice of others has been present in all the work we do, on stage and in the classroom. Without our teaching artists and performers, our mission and vision would just be words on a paper. People bring the words to life. Our performance work is inspired by the people of Chicago. We teach the children and families of Chicago. Chicago is our home.
In 2006, after discussions with fellow collaborators, teachers and board members, we decided to change the name to Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble, to reclaim and recapture our multidisciplinary approach. This artistic direction was novel at the time—and the category of multidisciplinary artist did not exist, for funders and for the media. The Reader would call and ask, “Do you want to be listed as dance or theater?“ I would emphatically say both!
Our first show under Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble was Voices Project: Chicago Stories, based on true stories reflecting the diversity of experience within the city. We partnered with the now-defunct Neighborhood Writing Alliance’s publication The Journal of Ordinary Thought (JOT), which included reflections people make on their personal histories and everyday experiences. CDE took these stories and poems written by Chicagoans and turned them into performance. For example, we explored the concept of “home:” why do people make Chicago their home? Is it by choice or circumstance? What is the experience of calling Chicago home, and when does Chicago cease to feel like home? After this show we were known as Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble.
While our name has evolved over the last 20 years, we have remained dedicated to tanztheatre, defined to “unite all art media to achieve an all-embracing, radical change in humankind.”
Founder of Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble